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The Information Needs of Virtual Users: A Study of Second Life Libraries

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Library Quarterly Volume 82, Number 4, ISSN 0024-2519


As virtual worlds continue to proliferate globally, libraries are faced with the question of whether to provide information services to virtual patrons. This study, utilizing a mixed-method approach of interviews, focus groups, and surveys, represents one of the largest studies of virtual libraries attempted to date. Taking a holistic perspective, the design and implementation of virtual library services and the information needs of 366 participants were examined with both traditional and virtual library users and librarians. Findings suggest that the information needs of traditional and virtual users differ significantly and the overall match between information provided and user needs of virtual branches are typically low. The study's impact centers on the findings that virtual library users represent a disparate group of first-time visitors whose primary information goals are exploratory; successful virtual libraries provide nontraditional information services utilizing the unique virtual reality context to emphasize and support social engagement and communication. (Contains 4 figures and 8 tables.)


Chow, A.S., Baity, C.C., Zamarripa, M., Chappell, P., Rachlin, D. & Vinson, C. (2012). The Information Needs of Virtual Users: A Study of Second Life Libraries. Library Quarterly, 82(4), 477-510. Retrieved November 17, 2019 from .

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