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Virtual reference, Second Life and traditional library enquiry services ANTAEUS

Virtual reference, Second Life and traditional library enquiry services ANTAEUS Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine recent thinking about reference services and library use of virtual reference (VR) software, in order to put into context the value of advanced social networking technologies such as Second Life to libraries and their users. Design/methodology/approach – A brief review of the main developments in the recent history of VR, combined with a comparison of the relevant features in common between generic VR packages and Second Life. Findings – That the key weaknesses of established VR services are also found in Second Life, but that these weaknesses should be readily overcome as technical advances are made and librarians clarify to software providers the type of functionality they require from their services. Research limitations/implications – The need for a higher level of complex authentication functionality, as necessitated when combining digital library subscription services with interactive virtual library environments, is outlined and defined. This is a fertile area for service provider research and development. Practical implications – The practical benefits of VR and Second Life services to libraries will be limited until the authentication issues summarised in this paper are addressed. Originality/value – The paper attempts to enlarge the literature on Second Life by discussing this recent innovation in terms of the broader historical context against which such digital library services have evolved. In particular, it points out the ironic similarity between digital reference environments and declining traditional reference services, which both are disadvantaged by their “distance” from core, authenticated digital library content. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Library Review Emerald Publishing

Virtual reference, Second Life and traditional library enquiry services ANTAEUS

Library Review , Volume 57 (6): 8 – Jun 27, 2008

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0024-2535
DOI
10.1108/00242530810886689
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine recent thinking about reference services and library use of virtual reference (VR) software, in order to put into context the value of advanced social networking technologies such as Second Life to libraries and their users. Design/methodology/approach – A brief review of the main developments in the recent history of VR, combined with a comparison of the relevant features in common between generic VR packages and Second Life. Findings – That the key weaknesses of established VR services are also found in Second Life, but that these weaknesses should be readily overcome as technical advances are made and librarians clarify to software providers the type of functionality they require from their services. Research limitations/implications – The need for a higher level of complex authentication functionality, as necessitated when combining digital library subscription services with interactive virtual library environments, is outlined and defined. This is a fertile area for service provider research and development. Practical implications – The practical benefits of VR and Second Life services to libraries will be limited until the authentication issues summarised in this paper are addressed. Originality/value – The paper attempts to enlarge the literature on Second Life by discussing this recent innovation in terms of the broader historical context against which such digital library services have evolved. In particular, it points out the ironic similarity between digital reference environments and declining traditional reference services, which both are disadvantaged by their “distance” from core, authenticated digital library content.

Journal

Library ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 27, 2008

Keywords: Academic libraries; Digital libraries; Reference services; Computer software

References