3D virtual worlds
As of this year, over 800 educational institutions currently manage and maintain full regions in Second Life (SL) (Floyd & Frank, 2012, p. 11). Bell, Peters & Pope's (2007, p. 123) research found that librarians experimenting in SL reported that users often expected a degree of "expertise on the culture from us". That popular conception of librarians as early adopters, as working at the forefront of technology, has arisen from the fact that the information profession does strive to experiment early and extensively with new technology, and SL has proven no different.
Events, conferences, library exhibits from special collections, such as Stanford University Libraries' exhibit of its rare books collection, links from archive displays in SL to catalogue records, links to online reference services, such as the CSU-SIS Learning Centre's link to the Library's chat reference service, are all ways that library services are adding value to the 'in-world' experience.
As Floyd & Frank (2012, p. 11) note, there were 1.7 billion registered users of virtual worlds globally by the end of 2011. Some of the issues facing libraries building in SL include: lack of funding, time to train already information-skilled library staff in the new skills of SL navigation (Bell et al, 2007, p. 123), global time differences, and uncertainty about the future of the environment, such as changes to Linden Labs privacy policies, business model/pricing (Floyd & Frank, 2007, p. 11), and rules and regulations.
OpenSim, a "virtual worlds server platform" compatible with SL, supports Joykadia, where CSU-SIS resides. Joykadia serves a community where "education , arts and social change" can be explored in virtual worlds (Floyd & Frank, 2012, p. 12). One new development created to overcome the problem of moving between SL and other virtual worlds, such as ReactionGrid, InWorldz, Kitely and Dreamland Metaverse, is the Hypergate, by which users can teleport from one multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) to another, depending on permission from region owners (Floyd & Frank, 2012, p. 13). This is one way in which interoperability between worlds is growing. The increasing number of virtual worlds presents a new set of issues, such as retaining avatars/identities, content creations, content purchases, and maintaining collaborative links in groups between worlds (Floyd & Frank, 2012, p. 13).
Although future developments may not remain only within Second Life, understanding the framework for information provision is essential in learning how to asses and apply these concepts in the same or similar environments.
Creating an online Personal Learning Network (PLN)
Developing a personal learning network (PLN) which works as a set of tools to enhance the information specialist's organisation of learning and knowledge of industry resources cannot be underestimated. For a librarian, a proactive attitude to ongoing or 'lifelong' learning is essential. Those failing to undertake professional development are in essence passively permitting (obsolescence) to overtake them" (Stone, as cited in Cooke, 2012, p. 1). With regard to using social networking tools as part of a PLN, there are three attributes of learning via the social web which contribute to empowerment and currency of knowledge in the information industry. These are: that learning is "self-directed", that is, "informal, self-initiated, independently conducted and integrated into an individual's daily work" (Varlejs, cited in Cooke, 2012, p. 6); that a PLN which includes social networking immerses the learner in "electronic culture" which taps into "collective intelligence" and "knowledge communities" formed around "mutual intellectual interests" where each can share experience and strengths with others (Jenkins, cited in Cooke, 2012, p. 6); and that social networking fosters "communities of practice" - informal groups, often geographically dispersed, which are bound by "what they do together" (Wenger, cited in Cooke, 2012, p. 7). For example, twitter networks where users share learning, and seek answers to technical and professional problems from fellow library 'tweeps'.
There is still a danger of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of library and information science (LIS) choices and content via social networking. Proactive filtering, labelling and organising of content are essential in order to re-find useful resources. Conversely, intelligently labelling one's own created or shared content is equally vital for other members of the social learning network.
Social media policy
An organisation's policy on social media and networking provides a "strong foundation" for employees' engagement with these tools (Solomon, 2012, p. 16). Solomon adds that policy should not "make using social media...intimidating - it should support the organisation's activities while not trying to "cover every possible contingency" (2011, p. 16). Developing an easy-to-understand social media policy that is flexible and future-facing is a sound basis upon which to create strategies, set goals, implement successful projects and ultimately deliver social networking content and communication which will draw users to the services, and provide 'ways in' for new users.
Bell, L. Peters, T. & Pope, K. (2007). Library 2.0 and virtual worlds: innovation, exploration. In N. Courtney. (Ed.), Library 2.0 and beyond. (pp. 119-128). Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.
Cooke, N. A. (2012). Professional development 2.0 for librarians: Developing an online personal learning network (PLN). Library Hi-Tech News, 29(3), 1-9. Retrieved from Library Hi-Tech News.
Floyd, J. & Frank, I. (2012). New immersive worlds for educators and librarians: Beyond Second Life. Library Hi-Tech News, 29(6), 11-15. Retrieved from Library Hi-Tech News.
Solomon, L. (2011). Doing social media so it matters: A librarian's guide. Chicago: American Library Association.