International Information Literacy in a Virtual World

As convener of the Association of College and Research Libraries Virtual World Interest Group, I am excited about an upcoming event which is jointly sponsored by ACRL VWIG and CILR (the Center for Information Literacy Research based in the UK). The two groups have worked together to discuss information literacy on a global scale. How is literacy changing and how are information literacy specialists teaching 21st century skills to students?

Sunday, October 21st from 12 noon to 1 pm SLT (Pacific Time USA)

InfoLit iSchool in Second Life

International Information Literacy Panelists
Sheila Webber (Sheila Yoshikawa in SL), Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Information Studies, University of Sheffield – UK (British IL Associations)
Ewa Rozkosz-Poland – Saba Pearl in SL (Polish IL Association)
Elvira Saurina (Mariae Habana in SL) -, Sistema de Bibliotecas. Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile Santiago de Chile
Stylianos Mystakidis (Sylianos Mystakidis in SL)- E-learning & Virtual Worlds Specialist at the Library & Information Center of the University of Patras, Greece
Valerie Hill – (Valibrarian Gregg in SL) LISD Library Media Specialist, Adjunct Instructor, TWU School of Library and Information Studies- USA (AASL 21st Century Standards Information Literacy)

Flying Through Media Formats with ACRL Librarians

When I organized the gridhop between two virtual worlds, I had this thought in the back of my mind that perhaps only a couple of participants would actually attend because of the difficult level of technology skills involved.  I was wrong!  An amazing group of librarians and educators from around the globe met the challenge and interacted in Jokaydia, an Australian based educational virtual world using the open-source code of Second Life.

As fifteen avatars began to gather in this new frontier, Barbara Janson (a doctoral student in library and information science) gave a tour of a 3D virtual world library she created.  Watch as these amazing technological pioneers “fly” through this library and demonstrate that information and media formats have been revolutionized and librarians are in the forefront of transliteracy.







Emerging Tech Trends and the “Trough of Disillusionment”!

Learning to maneuver in a virtual world is a daunting task for many people and the “steep learning curve” has been touted numerous times.  I am honored and humbled to be in the company of high-tech cutting edge librarians- who not only conquered this “steep learning curve” in one virtual world, but are gridhopping between worlds!

Jokaydia Lifelong Learning Library 








The ALA Association of College and Research Librarians Virtual World Interest Group organized an event on Jokaydia Grid, which is a virtual world based on open-source code (similar to Second Life).  Jokay, the owner of Jokaydia, graciously agreed to help our group and Barbara Janson, builder of the Lifelong Learning Library in 3D, led a virtual world tour.  Fifteen brave pioneers attended– juggling three worlds (the physical world on computers, Second Life as a starting point, and Jokaydia as a destination).

With current trends in social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the rise in mobile apps, and an interest in augmented reality, keeping up with technology can be quite a challenge.  Virtual worlds, according to the Gartner Hype Cycle, are emerging from the trough of disillusionment!  Librarians were some of the earliest adopters and have persevered through that trough while juggling other emerging trends that impact information professions. 


ACRL Virtual World Interest Group Event Invitation

The ALA Association of College & Research Libraries Virtual World Interest Group is sponsoring a gridhop. You are invited to join us! You may pass this invitation to other interested individuals.

ACRL gridhop to Jokaydia











WIIFM: “What’s in it for me?”

You may be familiar with the current discussion of virtual worlds beyond Second Life. Educators and librarians are exploring numerous virtual worlds as a platform for information delivery, immersive learning, global collaboration and professional development. Attending this event may help you expand your knowledge and skills in virtual worlds as well as network with other professionals. The goal of the ACLR Virtual World Interest Group is to explore and share virtual worlds with professionals in libraries, education, and other fields.

Here are the details…..

You are invited to our monthly ACRL Virtual Worlds Interest Group meeting which will be a gridhopping event to a different virtual world. Library builder, Barbara Janson (Avatar: Barbarathelibrarian Magic), will lead our tour.

Name of Event: GridHop to Lifelong Learning Library in Jokaydia ( a virtual world library visit)

Lifelong Learning Library in a virtual world

Date: Sunday, Sept. 23 11am SLT

Where: Meet at the Community Virtual Library in Second Life

Before the meeting, it is suggested that you download the Imprudence Viewer to use for our trip to Jokaydia at

You could also sign up and create your JokaydiaGrid avatar at

You may want to use the same name as your Second Life avatar, so you will be recognized! Further instructions accessing the grid in Imprudences are as follows:

Click on Grid Manager and choose “jokaydiagrid”.

(You can click on Add New Grid if needed.)
Grid info should look like the following:

Banned Books Week 2012 Celebrate Intellectual Freedom

One of the core values of librarianship, which many of us may take for granted, is intellectual freedom. Each year, the American Library Association promotes Banned Books Week in an effort to advocate awareness of the importance of freedom to read and express ourselves.

A panel discussion on Intellectual Freedom will be held in Second Life at the Community Virtual Library Exhibition Area on Monday, October 1st at 5pm Pacific Time.


Experience Life: Physical, Virtual, or Augmented

Much of my blog has documented my virtual world experiences. Currently, as I explore new augmented reality apps and experience collaboration through the popular trend of MOOCs, I believe the future holds a combination of physical, virtual , and augmented experiences for learning, shopping, playing, and enjoying our lives.

I finished my role in the Summer in Berlin virtual world library exhibit with live tours. Dressed in clothes from the 1920s, I joined others from around the world to experience Berlin and shot a short machinima (below). No doubt students will explore history through virtual experience in the future, but a shared physical space will still be of great value. Any space (physical or virtual) can be misused or taken for granted. Appreciation of excellence in our learning experiences requires deep thinking and sharing with others in any space or format.

Massive Open Online Courses are the buzz on twitter among the edu crowd. I joined MOOC MOOC but had very little time to participate during back-to-school week. Then, I discovered an interesting mooc for younger students called the Anne Frank Mooc. The leader of the Virtual Pioneers in Second Life is a technology educator who specializes in historical immersive learning environments. Our paths have crossed numerous times at virtual world events.

MOOCs give participants an opportunity to create learning experiences on any topic across distance, much like virtual worlds (but without the high learning curve). Comparing a MOOC experience with immersive learning in virtual worlds will be interesting. I took these Animoto photos during “office hours” in the MOOC and I plan to take some machinima shots when the MOOC participants enter the Anne Frank museum virtually.

I received an IKEA catalog in the mail this week which allows you to see furniture on your digital device through augmented reality. Obviously, augmented reality could be cost effective for companies selling products at some point in the future. For now, companies may have to invest in augmented reality applications, print materials, online shopping options, as well as physical outlets. Tough times for marketing!

I downloaded Minecraft, just to see what all the fuss was about! My students just love the game and I was curious about why chopping the ground to build out of square blocks could be so exciting. I discovered that there is pleasure in working hard to create something unique. A colleague gave me a new word for it– “playbor”! As our personal and professional lives become less separated and our home and work spaces overlap, so does our time spent on leisure activities. Playbor is a portmanteau combining play and labor.

Whew! This is a rambling post but the idea that ties it together is life experience. We learn through living— through experiences with others. That is how it has always been with human beings. I keep hearing about the exponential growth of changes due to technology. One thing has not changed. We are human beings. What a wonder….to experience.

Where do you write? Where are your lexical tidbits stored?

Where do you write?

First of all, do you write? Do you jot down tidbits on napkins or take notes on your phone? For some people, words and phrases are more important than photos or physical objects. Our tech gadgets allow us to interconnect across space, sharing photos and ideas immediately. I wonder if this immediate shared expression is changing the writing process. The recursive process, in the past, took the writer through the process of contemplating ideas, gathering them, planning, pre-writing, revising, editing, and finally (FINALLY) sharing writing with an audience. Today, typos in most of our writing are completely acceptable. Revision is emphasized only for our formal (e.g. job application or peer reviewed article) correspondence.

So, if you write, what is your preferred location?
My best writing is done in my son’s old room, now converted to my office. I have pens, post-its, books and clutter scattered about and two computer screens at my fingertips. My pre-writing strategies now include: notes to myself on my phone, emails to self from numerous accounts, google docs, tweets, flashdrives in my purse, and a zillion post-it notes stuck everywhere! Jotting a thought on a post-it is more about the act of writing it down (kinetic trigger) than a plan to find it later. I appreciate a random encounter with a meaningful “note to self” — but the really significant (ah-ha) tidbits are stashed away in special locations. This is making me think I could be a word hoarder! I do love words and the way they can symbolize everything. I do believe they are more powerful than swords.

Digital tidbits
I keep a file on my computer for blogpost ideas and folders of potential articles, poems, or other writing pieces. I used to feel frustrated about keeping all of the writing tidbits organized, but I have learned to accept digital clutter since Windows 7 can find just about anything on my computer just by typing in a keyword. Using keywords in my file labels has become top priority.
Physical Tidbits

I have a beautiful blue pot, shaped like Aladdin’s lamp. Inside, I place scraps of paper on which I have recorded my significant thoughts and words and lines that come into my head like found poems. It is a physical object full of my personal glimpses of life. I have been adding them for several years. Someday, I plan to take the time (when the serendipitous moment strikes), to open the pot and look through them all and perhaps rediscover a personal gem. The writing process is a treasure hunt whether shared with the crowd or savored alone.


Seeing Past the Transitional Moment

There’s a question for you at the bottom of this post.

The Transitional Moment

This phrase (by Cathy N. Davidson) captures my life over the past five years. Both my library and my profession (librarian, information architect, media specialist, whatever) are in the transitional moment.  Many of us are diligently searching for ways to embrace 21st century information literacy skills to help others cope with what I call the “toppled hierarchy of information”.  Numerous recent professional books mirror the dystopian fiction (so popular with YA readers) through dark and foreboding predictions about the future of education, learning, and our changing humanity (see my recommendation list).

I just finished Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn by Cathy N. Davidson and was pleasantly surprised by the more hopeful outlook on the exponential evolution of technology or the “singularity”.  I could write a 20 page-blog post as I flip through the tons of post-it notes I used to highlight fascinating tidbits in this text. Realizing nobody reads 20 page blog-posts, I will share a sample quote and a question for colleagues.


Davidson says, “We are both adopting new information technologies all the time and being alarmed by them, even wondering if they are causing us harm, exceeding our human capacities” (p. 16).  I sense anxiety when I discuss the digital revolution with educators because participatory culture no longer values expertise and uniformity.  Crowdsourcing places difference, collective wisdom, and diversity at the top of the value list (p. 65).  How does it make educators feel to hear that the knowledge and expertise acquired over years in the profession is no longer highly valued?  So, I ask myself – how do I cope? Answer: I cope with the closing of “the Gutenberg parentheses” by striving to adapt, evolve, and become information flexible.  I seek the ability to let go of formats and collide with others to learn adaptive skills.  In the new hierarchy, the law may be “survival of the information literacy fittest”.


The Science of Attention


Davidson brings together the topics of the changing hierarchy of information, participatory culture, and current brain research on the science of attention.  Her idea that we are always selectively paying attention to something (and NOT paying attention to something else) is a simple yet enlightening truth. She includes a checklist for teaching 21st century literacies, including: attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness and many more (p. 297).


A Question/Concern


A critical concept for the future of learning (included on Davidson’s checklist) is Critical Consumption of Information.   Without gatekeepers to verify accuracy, authority, credibility, and standards for ethical and aesthetically pleasing content, it can be difficult to find the cream of the crop (which used to be housed physically in a library) and to teach students to evaluate content.  Many people, in my opinion, simply do not care. I see them intrigued by the novelty and ease of sharing user-generated content through social media tools.  Sharing through social media is fun (nothing wrong with fun and I totally agree that all learning should be fun), however; social media often promotes a trivial , narcissistic, entertainment focused culture.  I totally agree with Davidson’s positive perspective on the future of teaching and learning. That being said, does anyone agree that the flood of images, videos, and witticisms we face daily can bury the best content under a mound of mediocre mud?  How do we promote tools for spraying off the mud and uncovering high quality resources when there are so many adorable cupcakes to be photographed and pinned? Awwwww…


The Internet Needs a Librarian

People are beginning to recognize the fact that the world of Internet Connectivity is not exactly the utopia we dreamed of in the 1990s.  In fact, the dangers of personalization by “algorithm gatekeepers” is now causing some of us to be anxious about our filter bubbles. (See Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” in this TED talk.)



Eli Pariser is making a great point about personalization; however, I notice he calls the gatekeepers of the old information hierarchy “editors”.  I believe a better term for the professionals who are trained in information access, storage and retrieval would be “librarians”.  In fact, the checklist he pulls up looks like something I learned in library school.  Imagine a world where people actually realized there are core values of librarianship that could benefit them. What a concept! 


I am not blaming Mr. Pariser for ignoring librarians in the connection between relevant, nonbiased, high quality information and the lack thereof online.  I merely remind us all that some people are specifically trained to acquire high quality, diverse, challenging, thought provoking resources and those people are called librarians.  Unfortunately, the perception of sitting at a circulation desk with a stamp pad is stuck in the minds of many who just didn’t realize how a library is made in the first place.  But, the Internet was not made by librarians and has no caretaker who is trained to provide the best. 

 Content Curation

Today-  everyone can be a librarian, an author, a journalist, a newscaster, a musician, an artist, an actor…or whatever online.  Content curation sites are sprouting up like weeds.  And speaking of weeds, librarians are trained to “weed” the library with the goal of helping the “living organism [Ranganathan]” maintain a healthy circulatory system.  There is no weeding of the Internet.  It is more like a garbage dump than a garden.

Sites like Scoop-it, are so popular now, educators are providing content creation lessons for students and businesses are utilizing them.



 The point is to help others navigate through the sea of chaos!  So, we should think about what we are adding to a topic or how we are helping others weed out the nonsense and cultivate the best content.  In other words, we really are all librarians now!  But I still say, “the Internet needs a librarian”.

Scan, post, scroll, click- STOP here!

Where will my eyes stop for a moment to truly focus?

On what do I give my undivided attention?
Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Time is money”; however, I propose a change in the old adage. How about, “Attention is money”?

Attention is valuable in the information age because we are bombarded with information in multiple formats. Instead of seeking out what to see or hear, information is knocking down our front door every day– each time we plug-in. And, today’s youth are always plugged-in. Most people under 30 years of age (and some older- how about you?) reach for a smart phone and access the virtual world before getting out of bed each morning. Or perhaps they put on Google goggles or whatever new app is available by the time I hit the “submit” button for this blog post.


Back in the glory days of the book, some of the quickest learners were admired for their speed reading abilities. Today, after the digital revolution, we scan through Internet pages while multitasking on our digital devices, focusing for only a number of seconds on most pages.

Now, after the Gutenberg parenthesis has closed, the quickest learners may not be those able to speed read, but those able to
s–l–o–w–d–o–w–n and truly focus deeply.


“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” ~ John Naisbitt

The quest for knowledge (and ultimately wisdom) requires perseverance, focus, and that now extremely valuable and rare element of attention.