Infomancy n. 1.The field of magic related to the conjuring of information from the chaos of the universe. 2.The collection of terms, queries, and actions related to the retrieval of information from arcane sources.

MLS programs back in session

September 20th, 2007 by infomancy

How can you tell? All the e-mail lists that you still have to be subscribed to because they might be used to disseminate information that is important are being inundated with “I have to post to an e-mail list for class” posts.

Note to library school professors: e-mail lists are dead, they just haven’t realized it yet. Instead, how about having your students read and comment on blog posts? Why not ask them to join a library social network like the Library 2.0 Ning? Why not ask them to contribute to the community through the Library Success Wiki? Or even, why not have them start a new library blog on which they will post reflections about other blog posts or articles they read with additional commentary from their fellow students?

To be blunt, why not move into the real world of modern communication?

8 Responses to “MLS programs back in session”

  1. Doug Johnson Says:

    Hi Chris,

    Good ideas here.

    You write: “how about having your students read and comment on blog posts?” Trust me, they are! I’ve also been seeing many requirements that students create their own blog with postings that are reviews of online articles.

    Some professors are moving forward!

    All the best,


  2. Bob Hassett Says:

    You raise great points, but I wonder if your thesis is worded too strongly. It’s true that any librarian committed to professional development would be well advised to do as you say. But does it follow that the e-mail list is dead?

    If the quantity of traffic on LM_NET is any indication, the answer is clearly no. Nor should it be. These media serve different ends. If I started cluttering up blog comment sections with “Do You Know This Title?” and “TAR: Hi-Lo Materials for HS” requests, I’d not only generate a lot of resentment, I wouldn’t get very many answers. Blogs and social network sites aren’t efficient tools for meeting those information needs. Nonetheless, lists are an enormously useful part of my work. And they’re perfectly suited to those needs.

  3. Christopher Harris Says:

    It may be worded to harshly in that it is overly general and I didn’t pause to acknowledge and praise success stories. All the best to those professors who have updated their coursework and instructional practices. Perhaps this is my frustration at starting a third year of library school and still waiting to see changes in the courses to reflect the rapid developments in information and communication technologies of the past five years.

    One problem I have with mailing lists is that they serve to small of an end. Certainly those types of requests don’t belong in blog posts (unless that is what the blog article is about) but at the same time, I don’t think e-mail lists are the best place either. Unless you can take the inbox hit to receive LM_NET “live” the discussion passes by the time the digest arrives. A threaded discussion board provides more longevity for conversations and can maybe allow great participation, even if because one can be more granular in one’s reading. On a board, I could only follow title searches, for example. While this could be done with some hefty e-mail rules (delete all LM_NET mail that doesn’t have ) it just isn’t the same. It is ironic, that e-mail would be considered too fast. Still, with all the information I am working to digest, I much prefer an information environment (be it a blog, forum, rss feed, etc) and not a stream.

    I probably need to get back on LM_NET, because despite my frustration with some of the posts, there are wonderful conversations happening there. I just wish they were happening in an updated, revised there.

  4. Cathy Says:

    I am a graduate student at the University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies. Currently, I am taking a health librarianship class. Our professor, Dr. Steven MacCall, has us very much involved using and exploring Web 2.0 technologies and communication methods.

    We all have our own blogs to which we actively post and comment. We all subscribe to and monitor a variety of feeds using aggregators. In addition to our class blogs and class de.lic.ious tags, we monitor blogs related to the health sciences in a variety of contexts including those associated with health sciences libraries, free-lance librarian bloggers, physicians/nurses, patients, administrators, and more. Not only do we monitor and read to learn, but we are active participants in this biblioblogosphere culture.

    We are exploring Library 2.0 technologies such as:

    1. Social Browsers and plugins(e.g. Firefox, etc.)
    2. Instant Messaging (IM) (e.g., Meebo, etc.)
    3. Social Bookmarking Services (e.g.,, Furl, etc.)
    4. Blogs
    5. Wikis
    6. Podcasting
    7. Screencasting (e.g., Captivate)
    8. Social Networking Services (e.g., Facebook, Ning and Servo, etc.)
    9. Online Photography Services (e.g., Flickr, Picaboo, Picasa, etc.)
    10. Online Video Services (e.g., YouTube, etc.)
    11. Catalog Services (e.g., LibraryThing,, etc.)
    12. Mashup Services (e.g., Zillow, etc.)
    13. Virtual Worlds (e.g., 2nd Life)

    We tag using De.lic.ious for our own class community purposes as well as the entire social networking world.

    I do have to say that I don’t agree that email lists are “dead”. Listservs do still serve a valuable purpose. Our class subscribes to the MEDLIB-L listserv. This listserv is quite strong and actively used as as means for networking, sharing, ideas, announcements questions, and concerns among practicing medical and health sciences librarians/information professionals. I also subscribe to other listservs such as CAPHIS, HLS, OHSLA, University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies listserv, Kent State University School of Library and Information Sciences listserv, all of which are quite active and a valuable avenue for networking and communication.

  5. Christopher Harris Says:

    Well, I must say this is one time I am very happy to be wrong! Thanks for sharing, Cathy!

  6. Fletch Says:

    I agree that a Slis program needs stay up to date but at the same time it still needs to stay where the “action” is and right now that still includes email lists because email has proven itself to be reliable. Email as we know it has been around since about ’81 while blogging is far more recent. I am in the same class as Cathy and can tell you I have already seen more latency issues with RSS feeds than I have ever seen with email. My own presentation a few nights ago came to a dead halt when bloglines couldn’t find an active feed I was attempting to demonstrate. I guess my point is we can still be early adapters without discarding proven technology. Our professor gives us the best of both worlds.

  7. CWF Says:

    “the discussion passes by the time the digest arrives.”

    Which is why you shouldn’t have setup your subscription to digest mode in the first place!

    “A threaded discussion board provides more longevity for conversations and can maybe allow great participation, even if because one can be more granular in one’s reading.”

    Maybe? MAYBE?! Can… Can? Come on youngster the horizon of forest if options is far broader than your kitchy tree notion of RSS and bulletin boards.

    Now listen up you Web2.0 fadsters: Listservs serve conversations asynchronously smack dab into your mail client. Can you spell convenience? It’s technology’s finest hour! Blogs are for posers. The heavy lifting of professional discussions are still occurring via the listservs, and for a very good UTILITARIAN reason.

    Now, if you had wisdom enough, you’d also come to realize that mail list archived in your client is a valuable tool. One that’s not dependent on web access, either. Must be your youth showing…. :-\

  8. Christopher Harris Says:

    Actually, listservs tend to serve conversations asynchronously smack dab into my mail client’s trash folder. The most prevalent response to the sudden influx of student questions on the listserv referenced in the post has been a flurry of improperly formatted and addressed “unsubscribe” messages.

    I’m sorry, did you really go with the “not dependent on web access” argument? I know there are still places in West Virginia that don’t have full broadband coverage, but hey, even the local gas station offers free wifi. Digital Divide aside, I would rather be tied to a web access requirement (if it couldn’t be hacked out with Google Gears or something) than to have my whole knowledge base stashed on a single hard drive somewhere. Oh, sorry, I am at home and so cannot make an insightful comment about this discussion, please check back with me weekdays between 8 and 5.

    Flaming feedback always appreciated =)