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Is there a second life for librarians?

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to explore the roles of libraries within Second Life from the viewpoint of the librarians experienced in experimenting within virtual worlds. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Exploration of currently available literature was undertaken to determine the important issues affecting libraries and librarians within virtual worlds. To explore these issues further, ten Second Life librarians were interviewed in order to distinguish which were most important and why. Findings ‐ There is considerable diversity in the opinions of Second Life librarians, but all interviewees shared the belief that their efforts within Second Life had helped others and improved their own professional development. There was a strong consensus that it was important for librarians to embrace Second Life now, in order to be prepared for a future when virtual worlds, although perhaps not Second Life itself, were commonplace. Practical implications ‐ Virtual worlds are growing in popularity, particularly with younger generations. If they are to be accepted as part of a multidimensional information space, the possibilities available within the virtual space need to be appreciated and understood by the information community. Librarians have a responsibility to aid their users in understanding the complexity and possibilities of information provision and delivery offered by virtual worlds. This can only occur by accepting and supporting experiments in environments like Second Life. Originality/value ‐ This paper illustrates to the library community how Second Life is currently being used to provide information services, and to further an understanding of how the entire information community can benefit from embracing the possibility of exploring virtual worlds.
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Keywords: Librarians; Libraries; Online operation; Virtual work

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 7, 2011

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