Thursday, September 1, 2011

Interview: Mel Krupinski, Head Librarian at Rockcliffe University Library

So. You know those crazy dreams - the ones you usually have the night before you start your new job, or the first day of class, or...say... before your very first official interview with an SL librarian? The dream where you show up unfashionably late, flustered, and stark naked because, in your noobie nervousness, you’ve clicked “remove outfit” instead of “replace outfit”? Well dear readers, this dream was my reality the day I went to meet Mel Krupinski, head librarian of the extremely impressive Rockcliffe Library. It went a little something like this:

Me: (frazzled and stumbling over self and words): oof. geez. Oh, uh, hi Mel! Sorry to have kept you waiting!

Mel: (cool, calm, and perfectly poised): Oh, no problem. I didn’t wait long.

Me: (panicky, clicking my screen like a madwoman) I’m naked. I'm naked! Oh dear. Am I naked to you?

Mel: (smiling reassuringly) ….hmmm…ah, I think I can see your dress...green?

Mel Krupinski, lovely librarian

Fortunately (for you and me both!) I was eventually able to compose myself and Mel and I settled into what turned out to be a rather delightful conversation.

Zoe Foodiboo: Yep…okie dokie. Well, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? How did you get involved with SL?

Mel Krupinski: Well, it all started during my last law library job. The dean of the law school suggested the librarians try it out back in 2006.

ZF: Fantastic!

MK: That’s when I was born…hehe. I helped to build the first law library in SL, on Cybrary City 2. They pulled out several years ago and I no longer work there.

ZF: But you remained involved with SL?

MK: Oh yes. I had been asked to be Rockcliffe’s librarian.

ZF: Were you Rockcliffe’s first librarian?

MK: So far the only one.

ZF: What was it like when you arrived?

MK: The library below us is the third library building, with twelve rooms and a barn area. The first was much smaller, just one part of a sim. Then Phelan [Phelan Corrimal, Rockcliffe’s founder] gave me a whole sim. A whole sim!!! I couldn’t believe it!

ZF: Who are your users?

MK: Our users are just about everyone in SL. Whoever wants to be here can be here. We do have a faculty and a student group. We are still a fledgling organization with an ever changing set of goals but we are definitely here to educate.

ZF: Does an ever changing set of goals make it difficult to select resources?

MK: Well, I stray a little bit away from the goals. So both SL and real world topics…I try to keep it interesting. That’s when I hit on the idea of going toward open access sources of information. That is my specialty these days – open source, open access all the way! I try to keep in line with Rockcliffe’s subject areas: business, marketing, law, the sciences, education. I keep up by reading blogs and literature about open access so I can bring in the newest stuff.

ZF: Do you have a staffed reference desk?

MK: No, we do not. I staff as much as possible.

ZF: Do you know roughly how many visitors you get per month?

MK: I keep visitor stats by name so going by that I may get 200 or so per month. It’s up and down.

ZF: What sort of questions do you get?

MK: Sometimes people want an object they see here. My last visitor was from Pakistan. He liked the Searchbert search machine [a robot that flies around the Rockcliffe library searching for resources/topics that you feed him] so I gave him one.

ZF: How important do you think interactivity is to a library/exhibit?

MK: I try to build it into most of the objects I do…that is with quotes or web addresses when the items are touched. I love to investigate scripts…I play around with them or colors or sound.

ZF: You seem so passionate about what you're doing. What motivates you?

MK: I guess it's just how I've always been. I love to teach and have taught many classes over the years.

ZF: Well, I don’t want to keep you too much longer. To wrap up, can you talk a little bit about what the future holds for Rockcliffe library?

MK: With Phelan Corrimal as the head of Rockcliffe, I believe the library will always be supported. We still have some big goals for research in virtual worlds, not just SL. We want to be the go to organization about virtual worlds.

ZF: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me.

MK: Thank you for your interest!

Visit Rockcliffe Library: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Rockcliffe%20Library/85/129/23

Stay tuned for photos and notes from my tour of the fabulous Rockcliffe University Library & Reference Center!

~ Zoe

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