Let’s put the academic blogging to a test. Below is an draft of an abstract that will be submitted to the Creating Knowledge 2008 conference in Turku, Finland. This abstract is co-authored with Dr. Isto Huvila. Any comments and/or suggestions are welcomed and encouraged.
Preparing for the future: Libraries in Second Life
There’s a lot of discussion surrounding Web 2.0 and Library 2.0, and the adoption of some of the key concepts is increasing in libraries. The definitions of Library 2.0 are almost as many as those that write about it, but common with most of the definitions is that they use terms like “user participation”, “collaboration” and “rich user experience”. In practice this could mean that libraries open their web sites and allow their customers to add content in the form of comments, tags and ratings. Such openness could promote a shift towards increased online involvement (Miller, P., 2005; Notess, G.R., 2006; Casey, M.E. & Savastinuk, L., 2006; Maness, J.M., 2006; Stephens, M. & Collins, M., 2007). If we think about the physical library buildings as the “first place”, a meeting place where librarians meet with their customers, Library 2.0 could provide the “second place”, an online place for libraries and librarians to meet with their customers.
While libraries are just starting to use social tools such as blogs, wikis and RSS feeds to provide opportunities for user participation, some discussions are already moving from Library 2.0 to a possible next step, Library 3D. Library 3D indicates the use of 3D virtual worlds, such as Second Life, World of Warcraft and Alphaworld, by libraries. Especially Second Life has attracted a lot of users, among them several libraries and librarians, from all over the world to explore this user-created 3D environment and the possibilities it may provide. An increasing number of libraries have created a presence in Second Life and use it for various purposes. Some libraries use Second Life to arrange book readings, poetry evenings, lectures, art exhibitions and even information services and special library activities (Bell et a, 2007; Godfrey, K. & Dinberg, D., 2007). The immersive nature of virtual online worlds makes human contacts more realistic online than it would ever be possible in Library 2.0. People feel closer to each other in virtual worlds, even if they are represented by avatars. This has been proved beneficial in distance education where students have said that they felt the presence of other students in a much more realistic way than when using only text-based educational tools online (Holmberg, K. & Huvila, I., 2007). Can this immersive nature be the key to providing library services in virtual worlds? Could 3D virtual libraries be the next meeting place for libraries and their customers? Could virtual worlds be the “third place” of libraries in the future?
This research will increase our knowledge about how libraries are currently using Second Life and what kind of services they do provide in-world. The over-whelming goal of this research is to study how librarians experience the potential of online virtual worlds as the “third place” of libraries. Will online virtual worlds be the next place where librarians will meet their customers and how should librarians be prepared for such a development in the future? We will use an online survey to collect information from libraries that already have a presence and some activities in Second Life and from libraries in Finland that have so far stayed outside of Second Life. This research will give us more insight in a possible future for libraries and also give us more knowledge on how to best prepare for the possible future shift from Library 2.0 to Library 3D.
Casey, M.E. & Savastinuk, L. (2006). Library 2.0 – Service for the next-generation library. Library Journal, 9.1.2006. Retrieved on 28.1.2008 from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6365200.html.
Bell, L., Pope, K., Peters, T. et al. (2007). Who’s on third in Second Life? From Library 2.0 to Library 3-D. Online, vol. 31, no. 4, 2007.
Godfrey, K. & Dinberg, D. (2007). A brave new virtual world, or, 500 librarians can’t be wrong! Feliciter, vol. 53, no. 4, 2007.
Holmberg, K. & Huvila, I. (2007). The Second Life of library and information science education: learning together apart. Proceedings of the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. Milwaukee, WI, USA.
Maness, J.M. (2006). Library 2.0 theory: Web 2.0 and its implications for libraries. Webology, vol. 3, no. 2, 2006. Retrieved on 28.1.2008 from http://www.webology.ir/2006/v3n2/a25.html.
Miller, P. (2005). Web 2.0: building the new library. Ariadne, no. 45, 2005. Retrieved on 28.1.2008 from http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue45/miller/intro.html.
Notess, G.R. (2006). On the net – The terrible twos: Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and more. Online, vol. 30, no. 3, 2006. Retrieved on 28.1.2008 from http://www.infotoday.com/online/may06/OnTheNet.shtml.
Stephens, M. & Collins, M. (2007). Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the Hyperlinked Library. Serials review, vol. 33, issue 4, 2007, pp. 253-256.