This is very wishy-washy of me, but I think that libraries should maybe participate in virtual worlds such as second life.
When they should:
- If there is patron demand
- If librarians are already skilled in the navigation and creation involved
- If librarians serve a population that will benefit (i.e. technology students, students who already participate in simulations or classes in the virtual world)
- If the library will benefit from the information and networking provided by interacting with other librarians and libraries already online
When they should not:
- If participation is due to a desire to be more 2.0
- If librarians have no idea if patrons would be interested
- If participation is due to a desire to be more cutting edge
Second Life is currently a somewhat clunky program operates optimally with technology and skills above the level of an average internet user. While I do agree that libraries should sometimes take chances on cutting edge technologies, those chances should either directly benefit patrons or be easy to use. Virtual worlds do have the potential to enhance online experiences by providing a richer environment. For example, I am sometimes frustrated in web-conferencing sessions by the inability to gauge the responses of my classmates and being able to see avatars reacting to things would solve that problem to some extent. But the search for information is a more private act. The interactivity offered through a virtual world is not particularly germane.