Monday, December 04, 2006

Australian Libraries now have a building in Second Life (or, "Do Singapore libraries need to follow suit?")

I just popped into Cybrary City in Second Life for a visit before bed, and have come out with a building for all Australian Libraries to share. Ooops. .
Cybrary City is an island sponsered by Talis and administered by the Alliance Library System. It provides free buildings for libraries for a year, in return for a couple of hours staffing per week.
This might be late news to some of you, as it was published on 14th Nov 2006 (I just read my blog feeds this morning at home, since I'm on leave from work).

Certainly great news for Australian librarians and libraries (btw, anyone know what's their library's SLurl?)

OK, a logical question would be, "Would Singapore libraries follow suit?"

I doubt so, to be honest. In my personal opinion, very few librarians in Singapore seem to be interested in exploring social media platforms like blogs and virtual worlds. This is just a factual observation rather than a complaint.

The oft quoted reason would be the lack of time. I don't discount time as a factor. I certainly tell people that blogging and all other online pursuits take up time (for me, I make time by not watching television and I read relatively fewer books compared to before I blogged).

That being said, I still wish more Singapore librarians (from various types of libraries and disciplines) getting into blogs and exploring virtual worlds. How many more, I can't say, but more than the current handful (judging from those who blog).

It's not so much about librarians blogging or having a SecondLife. It's about a concerted attempt to understand the medium -- a medium that some of our customers are exploring.

I believe librarians need to stay ahead of the game, so to speak.

So some of us should try to make that time, whether our own time or seeking permission at work to do so (yeah, why not? Won't hurt to ask and provide good reasons. Don't want to ask 'cos you think your boss won't understand? Well, start making your own time, heh heh.)

Over at, Lucian wrote that:
I’m one of the many who have dabbled in Second Life, got bored real quick because I compared it to other MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Dark Age of Camelot or City of Heroes. Some of these were so good I’ve had to cold-turkey myself away from them. But Cory’s first point, which he reiterated many, many times, was that Second Life isn’t a game.
I'm not surprised Lucian got bored. He once commented to me (when we met in SecondLife) that SL was like an Extended MSN. I thought that was an apt analogy. SL isn't a game but another platform for communication and information exchange, albeit enhanced or "extended".

Where SL is concerned, I don't feel compelled to login every other day -- just like I don't feel compelled to pick up the phone to call someone, or fire up MSN to chat with friends (wrt MSN, I tend to run it as a background application, but I don't necessarily monitor it to see who has come online).

And it's not right or wrong (to feel bored). Everyone has their own agenda and needs. At least Lucian has made an informed choice (at that given point in time) on what that medium is about. We each have to make our own sense of that medium.

Hence, my point once again -- it's not about Singapore librarians lobbying to start a library in SecondLife; it's about a concerted effort (by a minority at least) to understand what that particular medium is about and what it might mean for our customers and hence our profession.

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  1. Anonymous7:38 pm

    Hi Ivan, we're having a virtual end of year party in Second Life next week - you're most welcome to join us if you have the time. Details here. Oh, and yes we have a slurl

    I completely agree with your statement that we librarians "need to stay ahead of the game". Nowadays people can find information in so many different mediums, so it is not enough for us to stay cloistered in our libraries - we need to understand and be conversant with all the tools and forums that are available out there.

  2. But do you need librarians to run a virtual library?

    I'm helping Milosun with his ICT Library on InfoIsland and I'm not a librarian. I'm planning to do a series of machinimas demonstrating teaching tools in SL. The idea of being virtual allows for experts in any field to participate, just like Wikipedia isn't entirely built by academics.

    On the point that Singapore doesn't need a virtual library, "yes" and "no". Sure we don't need full-fledge libraries of our own when there are already existing ones, but we should have Singapore sections in the bigger libraries in SL.

    When you brought me around the new National Library, one of the unique features you showed me was the nostalgic children story books and the local writers/artists sections. Even the oldest Singapore blogger could come in and contribute by meeting for conversations. We need those... much like how exists, we need a literary heritage on an accessible online space, not just limited to a physical venue. (Why not have a section for a start?)

    There are classes being taught on book-making in SL. If we can locate local writer & publishers willing to do so, we could create such books, and set to free or pay for access much like eBooks.

  3. Singapore Librarians are very welcome to join us in SL on Wednesday 13 Dec at 6pm - 8pm (Western Australian time). Lori Bell is giving us a tour of Info Island and then we are partying at the Australian Libraries building. Why not get a group together to watch over your shoulder in RL if people are reluctant to do it for themselves?

    More information here, LINTy party in Second Life


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