Second Life vs. Real Life

Second Life has been the subject of praise and contempt, and rightly so. Second Life has a number of issues (ie. stability) but also offers us some interesting opportunities (ie. distance education). I have admitted that I am still in the exploration phase of Second Life after a year and that it still needs a lot of work before I’ll be completely sold on this virtual world. That being said, I also find that I have to defend my exploration of Second Life.

A recent post on the Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty blog notes that talented librarians are devoting time to a leisure world rather than doing good things in the real world. I have a couple of problems with this statement. First of all, while Second Life is certainly a leisure world, many librarians are not working on leisure activities. We are trying to supply needed resources (ie. links to library resources) that may have gone unnoticed to a new user group. The user group in Second Life may not be the user group we see in the libraries and we need to reach all patrons. Higher education has taken an active interest in Second Life and academic libraries are looking at ways to support the classes, as we would in the real world. Being in Second Life is a point of need issue. The post quotes a letter sent to the American Libraries journal. This letter assumes that Second Life consumes all free time. While some individuals become addicted to the virtual world, many of us are there for work and continue to have a life outside of the virtual world. I still have enough time to teach a distance education course and if I was really ambitious, other volunteer projects. Other librarians are not as lucky as I am and are exploring the virtual world on their own time. They recognize virtual worlds as a technology that needs to be explored and are devoted to helping the profession stay current, even on their own time. I can’t speak for their free time but most I know do not spend all of their time in the virtual world.

Second Life is not something that everyone can understand. Many of us, myself included, are still trying to understand the importance of virtual worlds. Virtual worlds however, can not be ignored. If we do not stay current and examine new technologies, we will be blindsided and be in a constant state of catch-up. Second Life is part of my job, not my sole job, and I do not feel I am doing a disservice by exploring opportunities in this virtual world. Something will replace Second Life but at least we’ll be ready for it.


About theweelibrarian

Liaison Librarian extraordinaire! Interests in libraries and technology, virtual worlds, gov pubs, fun and chocolate.
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2 Responses to Second Life vs. Real Life

  1. creaky15 says:

    I agree with you entirely. Second Life is an interesting (and entertaining) location but I have yet to be convinced that it has application to the people I serve in an academic-medical library. And, yes several of the librarians whom I work with are devoting time, energy and professional skills (developed from real life) towards selecting, cataloging and presenting health information to SLers… SL HealthyWiki is a project in progress, as an example, intended to provide credible, timely health information to those in world. Many people who have not spent time in Second Life are quick to criticize it – as an escape, as a “game”, as an addiction. It is sort of like criticizing a book you haven’t read.

    I enjoy your blog and will add it to my site, at

  2. Pingback: Blogs I Like: The Wee Librarian « EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC

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