Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm An Official Second Life Librarian!

On May 11, 2008, I began serving as volunteer reference librarian for the Information Island International reference desk in Second Life. I serve there on Sundays from 7-9:00 A.M.

My first week's shift was pretty quiet. I had a great helper- a veteran on the Info Island ref desk, a nice guy, and major techie from the UK, Karl Nostram.
The next week was busier and quite a learning experience for me. I was on my own most of the first hour and it was pretty quiet. Karl stopped by to see how I was doing and we were having a nice chat when suddenly we had three visitors all with challenging questions. I started working with the first person, an academic from the UK looking for government and non- profit organizations in SL. Karl worked with the second person who had a SL technical question. Karl eventually sent out an IM to our Alliance Library Staff group to get help with a question. In no time at all three more librarians arrived to help. The questions were soon answered, we all visited a bit, and it was time to go.

By the end of my 2nd shift I realized that I have a lot to learn about working with this challenging global population. Working and learning in Second Life has already been a great experience. And quite different from my real life reference librarian experiences. Volunteering here and spending time in SL in general, has motivated me to learn more about the people with whom we share our world. And I know my abilities and understanding in SL will improve as I seek to answer challenging questions.

Stop by and see me if you're ever in-world! I'm Robin Mochi, the tall blue man :-) It really is a whole new virtual world - come join us!


Karen Coronado said...

I can really relate to your comments on feeling the need to learn more about the people from other cultures. I have been thinking about that quite a bit lately as I have been expanding my horizons and meeting new people through social technologies. I think that you are amazing for stepping into this role as a VR reference librarian in an international setting. How do you deal with visitors who do not speak English?

Robin Ashford said...


So far I have not had anyone show up at the ref desk who didn't speak English. I asked the head of reference what I should do if that happens and she told me about a SL tool called the Babbler, which works with several languages to translate. I now have that tool in my inventory. Some librarians have also used babel fish, and since I have used that before, and it's very quick and easy, I would probably start with that.