Library marketing community via listserv? I think not.

24 05 2007

I had a bit of a facepalm this afternoon when I realized I’d completely overlooked listservs as a method for fostering a sense of community among librarians interested in marketing. So I went out and hunted up a few (with notations of where I found it):

I wouldn’t get too excited about clicking any of those links as it appears most of them are kaput. And this is important. Library marketing listservs, it appears, have failed. They have certainly failed to market themselves, for I was unable to find any website touting a thriving listserv. And there’s something else. I don’t know about everyone else, but I personally get way too much email as it is. I don’t have time to read half a dozen other emails a day, even in digest format. There’s something inherently wrong/boring/unstimulating about a listserv environment for me. Here’s why:

  1. I’m afraid to post. Even if I have something relevant to share, I don’t want to bug everyone with it…surely they have enough email to deal with already, same as me.
  2. I’m afraid to respond. Only rarely am I truly interested in something I read on a listserv. But when I am, when it’s something I want to respond to or have something to add, I never do it because, again, I don’t want to bug the whole group.
  3. Listservs are not pretty. Nor are they user friendly. Most of them still require subscribers to send some coded message to a subscription email and *hope* that they’ve worded their request properly. Its like typing at a DOS prompt except slower and more frustrating.

And so, I think, the time of the listserv has passed. Not for everything…for small communities (like your branch library) they’re good. Everything sent out will most likely be relevant to everyone on the list. You’ll know who you’re talking to. You know who’ll be annoyed if you get off-topic in your discussion and when to go off-list. But when you start getting bigger, the content and communication becomes unmanageable.

What do I want instead? I still like the idea of a forum. Forums are different than listservs…you can select the threads you want to read and skip those you’re not interested in. That’s why I set up the Tangler community. But discussion boards aren’t perfect either. For one thing, you can’t RSS them. Sometimes you can get notifications of new comments in threads you’re watching, but this is clunky. For the time being though, they appear to be the best chance we’ve got to share our ideas and create a community.

Thoughts? See any I missed? I haven’t tried signing up for that first one… does anyone know if it’s still active?

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2 responses

26 05 2007
Martin Wells

RSS coming soon to Tangler. We’re also toying with ideas around letting users selectively get a new email whenever a new topic is created in group.

What sort of thing were you expecting out of RSS?

26 05 2007
librarynation

Great! Email notification (via opt-in of course) would also be a nice option. For RSS I was thinking topical rather than threaded, simply because threads would kind of clog it up. If you had topical and then a link to view the discussion, I think that would be appropriate and useful.

Maybe include something in the feed that said how many threads the topic had so far?

Another suggestion I have for tangler, and somewhere it falls kind of short – All the topics are just “loose” on the left. When I’m joining a community for the first time, reading 10,000 topics or whatever is kind of daunting. If there was some way to tag or categorize the topics so I could read more selectively, that would be great!

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