Library in 3D virtual world: a critical review

Publication Date13 May 2019
Date13 May 2019
AuthorTanmay De Sarkar
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
Library in 3D virtual world: a
critical review
Tanmay De Sarkar
Central Library, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Purpose The purpose of the presentstudy is to explore the possibility of introducing a 3D environmentin
the library by reviewingcurrent literature and to provide a good understandingof different purposes of using
this immersiveenvironment.
Design/methodology/approach The present paper is a narrative accountof librariespresence in the
virtual worldin combination with an overview of how libraries respond to the3D environment. Relevant data
for the reviewpaper have been collected from library websites,books, journal articles, interview,etc.
Findings The study found purposive involvement of libraries in this immersive environment which
indicatesthat users use this exciting 3D medium to satisfy theirinformation requirement.
Research limitations/implications The paper basically considers publications containing
observations of broader research community in the relevant eld and contents in websites dealing with
virtual world and outlines themajor features as discussed in available documents. The reviewstudy infers
that the implementationof 3D project in libraries requires a mindset for the specic approach, from the endof
both librarians and users, together with involvement of funds. Therefore, a library may start with a beta
project and observethe effectiveness from the usersperspective beforeembarking on a full-edged project.
Originality/value With numerous examples, as evident from publications and websites, the current
review study makes an attempt to improve the understanding of librarians towards informed selection of
projected purposes to be integratedwith the virtual world from library perspective. The study also presents
different approaches of libraries motivating users in the virtual world that other libraries may follow while
consideringtheir 3D library project.
Keywords Second life, Web 2.0, Virtual world, Web-based services, 3D environment
Paper type General review
1. Introduction
The twenty-rst century has been witnessing anincreasing trend among libraries to adopt
social media to transformthe concept of library from a mere information providing centreto
a hub encouraging co-creation through collaboration and sharing. Recognising this trend,
ALA ( proclaims:
Social media has the potential to facilitate much closer relationships between libraries and their
patrons. Current usage of social media by the library community generally remains ad hoc and
somewhat experimental, but the uptake of these tools is accelerating, and they will likely play an
increasingly important role in library service provision and outreach in the future.
Social media with its tools and applications hasbeen embraced by libraries to reach at the
usersdoorstep in an easier, faster and interesting way. Among the various types of social
media, adoption of three-dimensional virtual world (3DVW) has been growingly observed
worldwide, especiallyin educational sectors. There has been remarkable growth of 3DVWs
application for distant learning, with a wide variety of universities and educational
institutions embracing this technology for their regular learning and teaching activities
across the world (Ghanbarzadehand Ghapanchi, 2018). San Jose State Universitys School of
Library in 3D
virtual world
Received12 July 2018
Revised20 December 2018
Accepted15 January 2019
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.49 No. 2, 2019
pp. 213-228
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-07-2018-0059
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Information uses 3DVWto conduct courses to enhance its distant learning initiative(https:// Virtual Universityof Edinburgh,
a virtual teaching learning and research institute brings together students, teachers and
scholars to use virtual world foreducational and scholarly pursuit related to the University
of Edinburgh, Scotland. (
Going by the increasing use of multimedia in teaching, learning and research, many
universities like University of Delaware, AR State University, University of Western
Australia, NationalUniversity of Singapore, Universidad de San Martin de Porres at Limain
Peru, Monash University in Melbourne, Saint Leo University in Florida, NC State
University, etc., are using virtual collaborative platform to support and enhance education
and research initiatives ( Institutions even use
this technology for creating blended reality environment (BRE) as a novel instructional
approach that integrates a traditionallab experience with the virtual lab exposure engaging
students in an immersive serious educational game (SEG) (Hodges, et al., 2018) that
promotes testing of substancesthat may be difcult or expensive to carry out in real world.
Virtual learning environment (VLE) offers a highly interactive platform for the learners to
collaborate among themselves and to share views with the instructors in real time that
empowers teaching learning process with a new dimension of innovative and interesting
approachabilitythat adds another service point to social media family.
Apart from being a popular platform for online learning (Morch, et al.,2017), since they are
designed to offer 3D space, avatars, real-time communication, interaction capabilities and
collaboration(Sipos and Balen, 2017), application of 3DVW has also been steadily perceived in
medical sciences, libraries, archives and museum. Blended learning has been widely adopted in
higher education institutes to lessen the time and space constraint in a learning session
(Zulkanain, et al., 2016). Similarly blended library approaches have been observed worldwide,
integrating the traditional automated library service with the 3DVW, encouraging users to
discover library resources, services and facilities in a collaborative and experimental settings.
The present study focuses on the adoption of 3D environment by the libraries to maximise user
involvement in the collaborative and immersive teaching learning platform.
2. What is virtual world?
Virtual world is a concept of online immersive environment, built and designed by
participants, where we can feel the essenceof a simulated real world, develop linkages with
participants from across the globe, exchange our views, create a learning platform. It is a
highly interactive 3D social networking environment (Kroski, 2008), completely based on
hardware and software conguration and obviously works with graphics card installed in
the computer. Virtual world encompasses a number of MMOs (Massively Multiplayer
Online Worlds) such as Active world, Entropia Universe, Small Worlds, Club Penguin,
World of Warcraft. Truly speaking, the virtual world is largely dominated by MMORGs
(Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games), exclusively representing online,
interactive, multi-participantbased mega video-gaming site with a shared platform, having
a solely entertaining approach, of course, with a few exceptions focussing on social-
interaction for learning and resourcesharing, and librarians are specically attracted to one
particular realm of virtual world Second Life (Kroski, 2008;Elliott and Probets, 2011;
Floyd and Frank, 2012;Cote etal.,2012;Clarke, 2012;Shaque and Riedling, 2013).
2.1 Second Life and library
Created in 2003, Second Life or SL is created by Linden Labs, a San Francisco-based 3D
immersive Web developer, that claims SL has presently spread its popularity among

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