Dream Not Of Other Worlds


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Presentation at June 2008 SLA Hot Technology Sample session.

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  • In ‘Paradise Lost,’ Milton wrote “ Think onely what concernes thee and thy being; Dream not of other Worlds, what Creatures there Live, in what state, condition or degree...” It is clear to me that he was not a librarian. After all, librarians are all about: change, the only constant I have known in libraries for over 20 years; support, which we provide through whatever means; and discovery, about what works (and what does not). It is not only our dealings with the known, - those things that so immediately and overwhelmingly concern us, daily, that move us to an uncertain future, but our discovery of the unknown, paralleled with development: we learn as we change as we learn and perhaps more so than ever, our experimentation, and even our play – counts. Even when there is no time for play, or experimentation, these activities can help us to imagine our future by lending us perspective we cannot easily have within the boundaries of our present-day walls. They can help us to link to one another and to our clients or patrons in new ways. Sharing new spaces, even temporarily can help to build relationships, may one day build new sources of funding - may help to redefine our profession yet again. My experiences in the multi-user virtual environment of Second Life for the past two years have helped me to see this, clearly. Multi-user virtual environments, or MUVEs, are differentiated from MMORPGs, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft, in that there is no real goal, as there is in such gaming. Instead, participants build their own world, right down to the rolling hills, flowers, trees, and walls. Between July 2006 (when I became active in Second Llife) and June, 2008, the number of registered users has swelled from several hundred thousand to over 14 million, with more than 800 librarians. Each of us has defined our own experience and goals. We come in to dance, to play, to meet new people; we come in as individuals, or affiliated with libraries or other organizations. Some of us disclose our ‘real life’ identities, and some do not. We are building things, teaching and learning, connecting in ways we never thought possible. We are discussing the differences between real life and second life. And as we do so, coming to new understanding. A very partial list of library affiliations would include university, law, science fiction, public, art, genealogy, and medical librarians, along with SLA, ALA, the IBM library of computer science, an educational technology library, state libraries, the National Llibrary of Medicine, the library for Ira Flatow’s NPR Science Fridays, libraries from Stanford, UCLA, and Dublin, New Zealand, Stockholm, and many others – and among them, a consumer health library, to be found on Healthinfo island. In real life, I’m a doctoral student focused on evidence-based librarianship, who for 20 years has worked in college, law, medical, and public libraries –
  • Dream Not Of Other Worlds

    1. 1. Think onely what concernes thee and thy being; Dream not of other Worlds, what Creatures there Live… John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book VIII
    2. 4. <ul><li>Funding: Greater Midwest Region, National Network of the National Library of Medicine </li></ul><ul><li>2006 Providing Consumer Health Outreach and Library Programs to Virtual World Residents in Second Life - $40,000 18 months. </li></ul><ul><li>2007 Libraries on the MUVe: HealthInfo Island to Provide Accessibility Resource Center in Second Life.” - $35,000 12 months. </li></ul><ul><li>2008 Share the Health: Training People with Disabilities and Chronic Medical Conditions on how to Locate Quality Health Information - $35,000, 12 months. </li></ul>
    3. 14. Reference Services? Yes!
    4. 15. Conclusions The danger of success? Why do we belong in virtual worlds? Challenges of global activity Getting started
    5. 16. “ But apt the Mind or Fancie is to roave Uncheckt, and of her roaving is no end” Milton, Paradise Lost Book VIII