The libraries of Second Life: How MUVE could shape the future of digital libraries



This panel will present an overview of Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVE), specifically Second Life (SL), and its applications in library services and education. The panel includes practitioners as well as educators that have been developing applications in Second Life. They will be presenting current applications of SL in Libraries and virtual campuses, and discuss usability issues associated to these environments.


Second Life is one of several Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) that have been made popular in the past four years. A MUVE allows simultaneous access to multiple participants that represent themselves as avatars, share virtual contexts, interact with digital objects, communicate with each other, and participate in experiences that simulate real world contexts. The potential of this type of environment for education has been recognized by several authors and there are a number of initiatives that have created or are in the process of creating virtual university campuses in Second Life (Dieterle and Clarke, 2008). Although it is still too early to tell whether Second Life or other MUVEs would become part of the main stream in education there are some positive indicators that these environments could be used as a successful learning environment. Due to the ability to allow reach interactions these environments are conductive for constructive and experiential learning. Another important feature is the ability to support multi channel distance learning (Luo and Kemp, 2008).

Libraries have also been embracing Second Life as a form of extension of their online services (Bell, 2007) (see for example, According to Bell et al. (2007) around 5,000 avatars per day visit the Second Life Library which shows that there is a need for library services in SL.

Panel Description

We have put together a panel that includes professionals who are currently developing services in the Second Life Library, and educators that have had experience teaching in this environment and creating new ways to facilitate learning using MUVEs. The panel will cover the following topics:

  • Overview of MUVEs and Second life
  • Current applications of second life in libraries and education
  • Libraries 3.0
  • Discussion about usability, as well as the user's perception and experiences on Second Life Libraries / campuses

Allison Brueckner (SL alias Teofila Matova) will be giving an introduction to Second Life and MUVEs and the current developments related to the extension of library and information communication technology services in Second Life. Teofila is an active reference library for the Second Life Library 2.0 project; she heads the Colonel Exrex Somme Reference Collection for the Whitehorn Memorial Library on a 19th Century sim (VictoriaCity, Caledon); Teofila also owns her own art gallery, A.R.t Galerie, and is sim estate manager for the new Talis Cybrary Island sim.

S Thompson (Hypatia Dejavu) will be talking about issues related to virtual references, public education and public interest projects in virtual environments. Hypatya is the current coordinator of the reference service department in the Second Life Library project.

Lili Luo will be taking about the potential, advantages and disadvantages and challenges related to using Second Life in Education. She also will cover usability issues both for developers of new applications and objects as well as users in Second Life.

Dr. Brian O'Connor will be talking about “Breaking the Fourth Wall” a new project that he and Dr. Rich Anderson are developing. Breaking the Fourth Wall is an interdisciplinary effort to develop a computer based toolkit to aid humanities scholars with access, research, and pedagogy with film and new media documents and document collections. The work is based on decades of work in film theory woven together operant laboratory work on behavior analysis. The BFW team includes scholars in Information Science, Film Theory, and Comparative Literature. The interface for the project, Fourth Wall, is an immersive environment built on top of the Second Life platform. The project includes design of an initial toolkit for computational analysis, a set of seed research projects, and a set of seminars and workshops for presenting the toolkit and its possibilities, as well as soliciting suggestions and critiques.

We plan to have a parallel session of this panel in Second Life so that SL attendants as well as ASIS&T participants can see the presentations and participate in the QA session.