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Valerie Hill - A Librarian for a New Age
HAC Speakers Series 11
Valerie Hill (aka Valibrarian in Second Life) is both a librarian and a connoisseur of learning in virtual spaces. She first entered Second Life (SL) more than 15 years ago, and became fascinated by how our lives are being impacted by technology. “I came into Second Life as a librarian because many librarians were early adopters,” Val says. “I even chose to put my profession in my name, “Valibrarian.”
Val is particularly interested in how the Internet and rise in use of digital devices for communication has impacted the elderly. “Most content is now ‘born digital’ and individuals born in the 20th century have had to adapt quickly to learn to find the information they need and communicate in new modes,” she says.
One of the biggest challenges for those with both phyiscal and digital (virtual) lives is balance. Healthy aging, Val is quick to point out, involves the whole person - physical, mental, and emotional. In her first life, Val loves reading, hiking, and working as a librarian. “Balancing my physical and digital (virtual life) requires getting outside for walks and the appreciation of nature as well as utilizing both physical and virtual communities to keep me involved and learning,” she says. “I am in two book clubs and continue to work as a librarian in both physical and virtual world libraries to help others understand how our lives are impacted by technology.” Above all, Val believes that, “a good attitude and interests in learning are imperative to healthy living, especially in a digital culture that is constantly changing.”
Being an avatar has given Val a chance to express her “real” self in new ways. “I strive to be myself in both worlds by being authentic and transparent,” she says. “My avatar, hopefully, expresses the importance of literacy because successful human life is based on language, communication and community.”
Even Val’s name in Second Life reflects her commitment to integrating and balancing her two worlds. “I chose the name Valibrarian Gregg because I am Val (Valerie) in the physical world and my husband’s name is Gregg,” she says. “I see my avatar as simply a metaphor (agent) that represents me, though I do wish I could dance as well as she can!”
In virtutal worlds, Val has networked both personally and professionally across a wide global community through her involvement in the Community Virtual Library and at the Virtual Worlds Education Consortium in Second Life. “All of my activities are educational in focus...history, math, science, art, literature and more. My goal for many years was to be a ‘real librarian in a virtual world,’ and with the help of others that has become a reality.”
Val is particularly interested in information science and has done extensive research into Metamodernism - a term used to refer to a range of developments observed in many areas of art, culture and philosophy, emerging roughly at the turn of the 21st century. Her recent book, Metamodernism and Changing Literacy,” explores both the advantages and disadvantages of new media, new technologies, and virtual environments, with an emphasis on metaliteracy. “We live in a world of way too much incoming information,” Val says, “so my goal is to help people understand that each of us has a personal responsibility to choose our worlds and our attention to them wisely. I call this ‘intentional immersion’ because the default setting of many people staring at their devices is simply the state of distraction.”
Fifteen years after she first entered Second Life Val is still exploring both SL and other virtual worlds because, “I care deeply about the next generation and my passion is to promote digital citizenship as it is imperative for us all in the future.” As for aging, she says “Age is just a number and I don't think about it much. I just keep juggling my physical and virtual world plates striving to help others navigate digital culture. Sometimes I even have fun!” - Jena Ball
Title: Metaliteracy for Elderly Digital Citizens: CVL Information Exhibition”
Presenters: Valerie Hill with Rossana I. Barrios-Llorens
Description: The Internet and rise in use of digital devices for communication has impacted the elderly. Most content is now "born digital" and individuals born in the 20th century have had to adapt quickly to learn to find the information they need and communicate in new modes. This aligns to their mental, physical and emotional health and requires understanding how to balance our physical and digital (virtual) lives.
Dr. Valerie Hill is a library and information science educator and researcher. She currently serves as Director of the Community Virtual Library which supports teaching and learning in virtual worlds as the support HUB for the Virtual Worlds Education Consortium (VWEC).
Rossana I. Barrios-Llorens is a medical librarian at the University of Puerto Rico where she presently is head of the reference department working with virtual and face-to-face reference, information competencies and technology workshops as well as administering and managing the content of the library's website. Pi builds immersive and interactive content at CVL including resources on healthy aging.
Virtual World Education Consortium: https://www.vweconsortium.org/
Community Virtual Library: https://communityvirtuallibrary.org/
About Valibrarian: https://about.me/valibrarian
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