Balancing both lives: issues facing librarians working in Second Life and real life worlds

Emily F. Blankenship (Library Technologies Unlimited, Greenville, North Carolina, USA)
Yolanda Hollingsworth (Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Publication date: 2 October 2009



The purpose of this paper is to analyze the ongoing issues and concerns of Second Life librarians who are attempting to balance both their virtual library tasks and assignments along with their real world library tasks and assignments.


Members of the Library and Information Technology Association and, in addition, members of the Second Life Librarians group are invited to participate in an online survey during the summer of 2008. In addition to sharing issues and concerns of balancing their work lives in both virtual and real life worlds, survey participants suggest solutions for problem resolution.


Data from 161 survey participants show that virtual world librarians are passionate about their commitments to virtual world libraries to the extent that most librarians completed virtual library work at home and are not compensated by their libraries for this work. Issues and problems shared by respondents include inadequate computers and slow internet connections at work, lack of support by library administration, blocking of virtual world software by network technicians, and little response to requests for scheduled time for virtual world library tasks.

Research limitations/implications

The number of respondents is comparatively small. The authors feel a larger percentage of members may have participated if the survey was conducted during either fall or spring semesters of the academic calendar year. A second survey may be conducted in spring 2009 to compare findings and to track solutions and concerns.

Practical implications

Librarians may have more time to devote to real life library work and will not need to complete virtual world library tasks at home if they are provided adequate computers and Internet connections at work and are also scheduled for virtual library work.


This paper provides empirical data on the perceived allocations of virtual library work time for virtual librarians and also discusses suggested solutions for better time management of virtual work.



Blankenship, E. and Hollingsworth, Y. (2009), "Balancing both lives: issues facing librarians working in Second Life and real life worlds", New Library World, Vol. 110 No. 9/10, pp. 430-440.

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