Student Mary Trice Volunteers at ALA Virtual Conference

Mary Trice worked in the corporate world “for years and years” as a highly skilled database designer and software developer. As much as she enjoys information technology, she found that her job could often be isolating. So Trice decided to leverage her tech skills and embark on a second career as a librarian.

She’s already found that studying library science can help forge strong social bonds, particularly in online environments. In Spring 2010, Trice enrolled in LIBR 287: Web 3.0 Emerging Trends in Libraries. Instructor Lori Bell encouraged her to consider volunteering with ALA’s The Future is Now: Libraries and Museums in Virtual Worlds online conference, presented in Second Life’s three-dimensional virtual world on March 5-6, 2010. Trice’s duties included organizing conference orientations, helping attendees maneuver to their Second Life seats, and moderating a presentation.

“I was able to network with many movers and shakers in the Second Life library, information science, education, and museum communities,” said Trice, who expects to graduate in Spring 2011. “More than that, I re-connected with the spirit of service that I had experienced in my college days when some friends and I managed a collective restaurant. You had to communicate, you had to be responsible, and you got out of it what you put into it.”

Trice has had a Second Life presence for well over a year, and she logs in almost daily to check on her core group of friends. She also practices her library and communication skills in a variety of other Web 2.0 outlets, including Skype, Facebook, UStream and Youtube for its Machinima function. “All of these social media tools are incredibly helpful not only in library work but in anything you are trying to accomplish that involves other people,” she said.

Trice earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a master’s degree in Information Systems Technology from George Washington University. While earning her MLIS degree, she is choosing electives that focus on web design and development of user-centered information systems.

Trice’s previous experience includes interfacing a web design with a database. She’s still considering possible career paths for the future, such as reference services or teaching database skills.

“I’ve found that the School’s emphasis on emerging technologies is a natural continuation and expansion of my IT skills,” she said. “I wish I could continue to develop information and library skills in Second Life and somehow get paid for it. You’d be surprised how many Second Lifers I’ve talked to who say they want to do the same thing.”