Home Science & Health Health Carolina Keats is Leaving Health Info Island
Carolina Keats is Leaving Health Info Island

Text and Photo by VERDE OTAARED


carolina_hii_001On August 2, 2006, Carolina Keats was 'born' into Second Life. Keats is Carol Perryman's avatar, and her 'birth' was the start of Perryman's nearly three years’ experience of providing health information and support to hundreds of SL residents. Keats/Perrymanhas been the coordinator for three grants funded by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to the Alliance Library System. The initial grant funded Health Info Island, and the subsequent grants have provided continuing support. The most recent grant from NLM funded the creation of Karuna, a sim AIDS outreach and information center that opened on December 1st, 2008, World AIDS Day (http://www.rezlibris.com/science/88-science/241-karuna-island-opens). Current funding of Health info Island continues until March 2010.


Unfortunately change is inevitable, especially in SL.On May 14th, 2009, Keats/Perryman announced that she was leaving SL to take a faculty position atTexas Woman'sUniversity teaching online medical library classes. Agroup of interested librarians and library supporters met to decide what to do with Health Info Island. Lorelei Junot (Lori Bell in real life and Director of Innovation at Alliance Library System) described the challenge of finding someone to replace Keats. "Carolina always had many displays; who will keep these up and refresh content? Carolina did a lot of training events which kept people coming. Carolina answered many consumer health questions. She had contacts with many here in SL in the medical community." There is ongoing discussion as to how to continue to provide some of the services and leadership that Keats supplied. Interested librarians and other individuals have started to meet weekly in the hopes of maintaining the reference and informational resources and activities that Keats established and provided on Health Info Island. Anyone interested in helping with this project should join the SL Health Librarians Google group for updates and meeting times.


One of Keats' responsibilities was Project Coordinator on Karuna.  Jena Ball (Jenaia Morane in SL) will take on the role of Project Coordinator and Robin Ashford (Robin Mochi in SL) will serve as Consumer Health Librarian there.Ball is a writer, editor, and educator with an avid interest in how virtual reality is shaping how we see and interact with one another. She is founder of The Nature of Writing specializing in creating custom content for educational purposes, and has penned everything from marketing collateral and syndicated columns to features for national publications. Robin Ashford, MSLIS, is a Reference & Distance Services Librarian atGeorge Fox University (GFU), Portland, Oregon. Working primarily with graduate and doctoral students, Ashford's library experience includes reference service, library instruction, collection management, and administration.She blogs at http://librarianbydesign.blogspot.com/ and can be found on twitter at http://twitter.com/rashford


With a mixture of regret and excitement Keats moves on to the next stage in her life. In her own words: "Working in SL for the past three years has prepared me well, I think, for this new adventure. I can't tell you how sad I am to leave this other, virtual home." Those who knew and worked with Keats share both the sadness and excitement with her. Keats had an innovative vision of making health information available to the SL community. Anyone who heard her speak about it could feel her passion and dedication. She was providing not just information to those who sought her out but also understanding and comfort as well. We wish you great success, Carol, but we will miss you. We will miss you very much.


A recent article in the"Journal of Medical Research" entitled "A Survey of Health-Related Activities in Second Life" names Health info Island and Karuna among the top 15 medical locations in Second Life.http://www.jmir.org/2009/2/e17




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