Six very bad reasons to have a library branch in Second Life


Yesterday I outlined Ten very good reasons why your librarians should be in Second Life.

I think it is a fantastic idea for many Real Life libraries to have a library within Second Life, but I don’t think a Second Life branch is useful for all libraries and get a bit worried when I hear people using the reasons below to justify it.


1. It’s where the users are.

Uh-uh. No way. Not yet.

2. Dell. Adidas, Disney, Toyota, (insert company name) are there.


3. It’s so Library2.0

The whole point of Library2.0 is to take new web tools and tailor them to your clients’ specific needs. Would a Second Life branch do this?

4. It provides access for more people

Yes it does. If they have the high end video card and broadband required by Second Life.

No service that aims to be equitable, should be offered in Second Life unless there is access also via another medium. Sometimes the interface and environment of Second Life do have great advantages over tradtional interfaces.

5. It doesn’t take much time or skill to run a branch in Second Life, so it would be easy to set up and run.

No comment.

6. We need a separate service in Second Life just for our users.

Are you sure? Maybe Second Life libraries would offer your users a better service if you put your energies into an existing Second Life library services like the genealogy library, or the children’s literature island, or the gothic manor, or the science ficiton portal, or a writer talk, or a book display, or the replica of the Globe Theatre, or staffing the reference desk.


We have the resources and time to establish and maintain a project in Second Life, we will provide workstations and training for clients wanting to experiment with Second Life, we are willing to see this as both an experimental and a production environment, and a branch in Second Life will meet our users’ needs and matches the strategic goals of our organization.

Is that right? Then go for it!

10 thoughts on “Six very bad reasons to have a library branch in Second Life

  1. I yield yeas to #3, 5 and 6. It does take work, time, and dedication. Staffing a vr library branch is another issue 🙂

  2. That’s an important perspective to keep in mind. It’s good that libraries are experimenting with SL, but that’s really it — an experiment. I’m all for libraries participating in SL but I see it more as a communication device more than providing any service that’s different from what’s currently available to users. I feel libraries shouldn’t build another RL-lookalike library in SL. But librarians ought to be experimenting in SL, at least to learn for themselves what is or isn’t possible.

  3. The best reason not to have a Second Life branch? Our taxpayers expect, and justifiably so, that the money they send to the Library will be returned to them in goods and services. How can you justify staff time spent in Second Life when,

    “U.S. residents made up only 31.2 percent of active Second Life users …. ”

    Are ANY of my Library patrons in Second Life? I have no way of knowing.

    Go ahead and play in Second Life. But do it on your own time and don’t waste the taxpayers’ money.

  4. I would second Ivan’s remark and add a bit to it. We’ve been experimenting in SL on how libraries… our library in particular… can use virtual tools to compliment/add to library services. The presence of other librarians/library staff is a wonderful opportunity to create communication “bridges” around the world where ideas and concerns can be shared… which I believe is another aspect of Library 2.0.

    THe presence of our “virtual branch” library also allows us the unique ability to get some feedback on what we do from librarians and the “general public” in SL. We have a guestbook/email link set up where individuals can message us letting us know what they think of our set up/collections/etc. We get some interesting responses!

    Besides the constant upkeep of a branch library in SL one should also make an effort to periodically update/change displays, trying new/different graphics/resources/etc. It is a “sandbox” and the castles can be created and taken down over and over again.

    Of course a SL library branch is just one way of experimenting with possibilities. As Kathryn points out there are many projects with SL Libraries just waiting for volunteers to jump in and help…. among them the Genealogy Research Center and the various special collections within Bell LIbrary Tower and the Main Library Building on Info Island.

    Bill Sowers / Rocky Vallejo in SL

  5. Ivan. Great to meet you in SL at the Singaporean get together last month. If SL is mainly a communication channel, I wonder how the voice option, which is finally packaged as standard in the client, will affect this.

    Helene. I think libraries have a mandate to understand the information environment that may affect our users, even before the users are there. Many of us had online databases before the majority of our users understood the need or function of them. US taxpayers don’t fund my library, Australian ones do – and they expect innovation and engagement from their university libraries – something that I think Second Life offers.

    Bill. I know so much more about Kansas from being your neighbour for several months. Emerald and Rocky’s friendship is an example of the networking advantages I mentioned in the “Why your librarians should be in SL” post. Your point about changing what is on the library plot is a good one…like changing the displays and notices in a physical library. I love creating something, storing it in my inventory and then being able to whip out a fully formed information service from my inventory.

What do you think? Let us know.