Monday, February 9, 2009

Second Life opportunity

Behind an avatar, there is a librarian. This is one of the new trends in the provision of virtual reference services (VRS). If you are interested in gaining experience providing VRS in a virtual reality (VR) environment, don’t miss this great opportunity to become a volunteer reference librarian. Regular and distance education (DE) students in the MLIS program and recent SLIS graduates are welcome to volunteer.

Since June 2007 the SLIS has been working on an ongoing project, the development of a virtual instructional facility in the Second Life (SL) world. The SLIS Second Life project team has designed and built a simulated research and practicum facility in the SL World, the SLIS/USC Davis 2.0 Reference Center ( The purposes of this Center are to: 1) serve as an LIS instructional aid; 2) connect on-campus and DE students in a virtual community; and 3) create a social network to connect information professionals and alums with current LIS students. The Davis 2.0 Reference Center has several components: a library (including a reference department and a multimedia classroom with a capacity for 20 students online at the same time), a Zen garden, an auditorium, and a commons. This simulated virtual facility helps students adapt Web technology into practice.

The SLIS/USC Davis 2.0 Reference Center will be open for public access very soon. As the SLIS Second Life Team Leader and Faculty Advisor, I would like to recruit volunteers to staff reference services in the Davis 2.0 Reference Center. Two types will be provided: general reference services and consumer health information services (which will be available for a limited time only).

At the beginning stage of the services, the target users will the SLIS students and residents in the SL world. While on a Reference Desk shift, staff members will maintain a visible and approachable presence at the Reference Desk. Exceptions may include such activities as assisting users away from the desk, roving during downtime to inquire proactively whether any user needs assistance, and taking a break during longer reference shifts.

Volunteers will receive training on accessing and navigating in the SL world, the use of multimedia resources for the provision of services, and how to provide appropriate VRS in the SL world.

If you are interested in volunteering for either or both types of services, please contact Dr. Feili Tu at Service hours are negotiable. I would like to work with the volunteer to create the public service hours.

I look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions you may have.

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