Be Ahead of the Curve…Even when your users aren’t.

Walt Crawford on Second Life:

"If you want to spend your spare time building library facilities in Second Life, that may be a great thing. I can see possible good learning outcomes. You may get to chat with lots of other SLibrarians and maybe even some who aren’t.

Just don’t tell me that libraries need to be involved in Second Life, in 2007, because it’s “where our users are.” That’s simply not true, at least not for most real-world communities.

…..

By any reasonable standard, your users are not in Second Life. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be. Just means that “that’s where our patrons are” is a poor excuse to prioritize SL activity over much of anything else. “That’s where our patrons might be eventually, and we’d like to understand it”–that’s a decent reason if you have spare time and no competing priorities."

I’ve been thinking this myself.  Then again, I’ve never been on second life (Actually, for me, it’d be a third life – my job is my "second life" – scary!) so what do I know.  But, the numbers do kinda speak for themselves.  Your users aren’t there….yet.  And that’s ok.  Be ahead of the curve!

Here’s the thing.  Librarians should know about all of these cool technologies.  They should know about DDR, Guitar Hero, SL, RSS, blogs, wikis, etc.  It’s important, at least, to know.  From what I read about all of this stuff, it’s fun, cool, and learning is involved.  I’m educated by others in the profession.  Jenny has taught me a whole bunch about DDR and I played Guitar Hero once with her.  I learned about SL at IL 2006 from Michael Sauers and others.  So, I know about it and can talk about it.  That’s key. That’s why reading blogs is important.  It’s where the true learning happens, IMO.

Thanks Walt, for a great post and for pushing me (although you didn’t know it) to write this post, which has been brewing for a while.

4 Responses to “Be Ahead of the Curve…Even when your users aren’t.”

  1. Kate
    March 10, 2007 at 10:18 am #

    I’m one of the many librarians doing various projects in SL as a part of the Second Life Library (http://www.infoisland.org/) project. I’m also a county law librarian in “real life” (www.saclaw.org) who serves a patron base largely made up of a. attorneys and b. people who can’t afford attorneys. These folks may never have heard of SL. Many of them don’t have computers that can access it, and a fair percentage don’t have the computer basics or the time or interest to learn how to navigate SL’s rather difficult interface.

    I’m quite aware that SL isn’t where most (any?) of my patrons are. In my own case, since SL doesn’t fit our very specific and local mission, I don’t spend library time on the project.

    But– there are a number of ways that Second Life (or more likely, one of its cousins or daughters) may become relevant to my library. I can list some off the top of my head (virtual meetings, distance education with live time demos and exercises, interactive patron screening for services, moot court, virtual tours so our pro se patrons can get an idea of what to expect when they step into a courtroom for the first time)– but it’s the ones I can’t list yet that I’m most interested in, and I’m excited to be helping the process along in my small way.

    As a purely personal benefit, I have met many people I might never have met otherwise. As a newer librarian who can’t afford to go to every conference I’d like, this is pretty nice professionally. And since I’m a mild computer geek and long-time game player, it’s also just a fun way to spend my spare time.

  2. walt crawford
    March 10, 2007 at 1:15 pm #

    You’re welcome. I guess my only caveat would be that not all libraries and not all librarians can afford to be ahead of the curve, at least not on all technologies. And I don’t think you’re saying they all should be.

    The remarkable conversation that took place last night on my post (I wasn’t involved until this morning) suggests that I really need to write the broader discussion that this is part of–but it will probably be a C&I essay, not a post. Some day soon?

  3. Mark Puterbaugh
    March 11, 2007 at 7:40 pm #

    I think we are really talking about being involved with the profession!

    In some sense our virtual world porject has been quite a failure. We are in Activeworlds not SL. Our patrons have not flocked into the world to enjoy the benefits of chatting with a reference librarian or wandering through a beautiful landscape.

    However, some of our patrons are there. Others will join them. They, like the rest of us confronted with the Internet, explore the possibilities that the new social worlds and sites offer. So, whether its SL or MySpace or YouTube or whatever, we as professionals should have some knowledge as to how our patrons are using technology and managing information. Even if that bit of information is some bizarre video clip off the web.

    Not every librarian can be or should be in SL or AW. Not every librarian should be or can be ahead of the curve. Not sure if any us can be ahead of the curve, that wave is moving too fast. However, if we are serious about our profession we need to know something about the curve. Maybe its doing something as simple as picking up the latest issue of Information Today. Maybe its taking a trip through You Tube or Wikipedia. It could also be grappling with Medical Subject Headings.

    We should be somewhere.

    Our profession is exciting! The important things is to be involved. SL is great, it has generated a lot of press regarding our chosen vocation. Lets use the opportunity to promote our profession however we serve our patrons.

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