Professor Diane Nahl (aka Adra Letov in SL) and seven of her graduate Library and Information Science (LIS) students visited the Karuna Resource Center this past week to see the types of resources and displays being featured and to speak with me about my role as the Karuna Consumer Health Librarian. We also discussed the evolving work of librarians in virtual worlds. I welcomed the group at the front entrance and enjoyed chatting with Diane while watching her students clicking on the displays and touring the building. After exploring, the students began asking questions. I had them get comfortable on the couches and chairs and did my best to answer. They were an astute group and it was good to see and hear from future librarians who seek to understand the changing roles of information professionals.
We discussed the resources and presentations I included in the resource center and how they meet the outcomes of the National Library of Medicine grant that funds Karuna Island. We also discussed the benefits and challenges for librarians working in virtual worlds, how statistics are gathered, and more.
After Diane and her graduate students left, I reflected on my own experience in graduate school. I attended the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the Unviersity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC GSLIS) not all that long ago, graduating in December 2003. It was a very positive experience and I am thankful to have attended an institution where I was pushed towards newer technologies. From learning basic html during my orientation to courses on web usability, online information literacy and more, I felt fortunate to be learning in a place that valued what was relevant and important for future librarians.
Professor Nahl's students, and many other LIS students from several universities who are offering courses in SL, are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about librarianship in Second Life. Virtual Worlds (VW) are here to stay, and as VWs develop and more of our constituents use VWs, the information needs in these places will grow. These LIS students will be better prepared than those without this exposure. It really is an exciting time to be a librarian.
The Karuna Island in Second Life is funded via a National Library of Medicine grant to provide support and information resources for HIV/AIDS individuals, family, friends, allied health professionals, librarians and the public. Jena Ball, (aka SL Jenaia Morane) is the Project Coordinator for Karuna and I am the Karuna Consumer Health Librarian. In first life I am an academic librarian at a small private university in Portland, Oregon USA.