originally posted on Amandarama! LIBR240 blog 4/28/09:
I have to admit to being very skeptical of Second Life before ever trying it out myself. I never really saw “the point” and I guess I still am not sure about it. However, my visit to the Info Island and the reference desk there made me understand virtual libraries in SL a bit better.
When I first teleported to the Info Island, I found it near deserted. I figured this was because it was about 1pm, and no one was in Second Life because they were all at work in their “first” lives. Since I wasn’t able to participate in my first ever SL reference interaction, I decided to explore some of the library buildings to see what was available. I found that in each library section, you could find links to all sorts of digital information resources. I can see how this would be useful to someone who spends a lot of time in Second Life. Here’s a picture of my avatar, AJ Nachtigal, taking a break across from the Library of Congress feed in the Alliance Digital Library.
I tried visiting the reference desk again in the evening. I was hoping I could listen in on some reference transactions first, but there was only one person there besides the librarian. The librarian, Halfwraith Caerndow, greeted me right away. Since it suddenly switched from day to night as I entered the reference area, which was disorienting, the first thing I thought to ask was how to fix that. Unfortunately, just as she began to walk me through it, SL froze up on me and logged me out!
I logged right back in and found that when I disappeared, the librarian sent me the rest of her answer by IM, which was nice. However, I wanted to apologize for disappearing. She was very nice about it when I reappeared and explained. Because I wasn’t sure what the SL reference service was really for – was it for SL technical questions? Or more like a real life reference service? – I decided to just ask. She pegged me for a LIS student right away (I bet she’s seen a couple of 240 students already!) and told me a number of different kinds of questions they get:
-SL tech questions
-new avatars asking how to get better clothes
-Alliance Virtual Library events
-SL directional questions (like in “real” reference!)
-“Real world” reference questions
-LIS students asking about what kinds of questions they get 🙂
I was impressed by this reference interaction. The librarian was friendly and very patient with newbie questions and technical problems. I may still be on the fence about SL in general, but I can definitely see how virtual library services are useful to those who are further along than me at “getting it.”