Library Listservs 101 (The Basics)

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Question mark icon. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 16 Dec 2016.

I’ll keep this short, as (at least here in Fort Worth) Winter Break is about to begin. Thank you to David Wee (links to help with media literacy and fake news) and Courtney Walker (being proactive in a “post truth” world) and others who blogged on fake news, media literacy and how librarians can help educate. I’ve shelved my draft on those topics, and moved on to….

The Value of Listservs

Listservs are ongoing electronic conversations around a common interest. Listserv subscribers pose questions, share links and comment on items of interest. The professional listservs I am aware of actively discourage (or specifically prohibit) advertising, blatant self-promotion, off topic comments, politically charged comments, flaming and the like. There is always wiggle room, as what feels like self-promotion to one reader may feel like a sincere wish to share helpful information by another. Professionally-f0cused listservs usually have moderators who step in to redirect or curtail discussion threads if needed. (A special thank you to St. Stephen’s Episcopal School (FL)  librarian Christina Pommer, moderator for AISL.)

Listserves are a great way to access and share information and keep an ear to the ground in any profession. Depending on the list, and your temperament, you can lurk, share occasionally, or share often.

Tips for Listserv Newbies

  • Use a full signature block. Name, school name and contact information at minimum.
  • Check the protocol for responding. (Reply all? Just to sender?) A simple “Me too!”can go to an individual. Other responses might benefit the whole list. LM_Net, with 11,000 members, has a specific protocol that discourages responding to the full list, to cut down on email traffic.
  • Some listservs require membership in an organization.
  • Consider checking the listserv archives for general questions (pros and cons of genrefication, for example) before opening a discussion.
  • Remember that listservs may turn up in Google searches and elsewhere. Vent carefully, if at all.

Four Listservs to Consider (and Links to More)

AISL – Open only to AISL members, with topics of interest to independent school librarians. If you read the Independent Ideas blog, you may already be subscribed.
LM_Net – Probably the largest school library network, with 11,000 members worldwide. Subscription, Etiquette and Archives all easy to find from home page.
aaslforum – The American Library Association has a number of listservs open to ALA members. Sign in with your ALA credentials at . The aaslforum list targets school librarians/libraries.
iasl – International Association of School Librarianship members only. School librarianship with an international focus.

For more listserv ideas, check out the Library of Congress Library and Information Sciences Online Resources webguide (Listservs are listed about half-way down.)