Posts tagged ‘email’

Email Habits of Library Workers

About a month ago I posted a simple poll using Doodle to get a quick snapshot of the email habits of librarians and those who work in libraries. I am finally finding a few moments to summarize the results. This is not a very scientific study at all, but it does give an indication that many of us in libraryland seem to feel compelled to check our work email even on weekends and holidays. I wonder if this is the same in other industries or are we just a hyper-connected profession of overachievers that must know at all times what is happening in our libraries even when we are not there?

As of August 15th 2008 there were 160 responses (many more than I expected) and the most popular option chosen was “Yes on weekends” with 119 people (74%) indicating that they needed to know what was going even when they were not at work.

Even though we seem to have a burning desire to check our work email on weekends, there is some indication that at least a small portion of the profession knows the meaning of the word vacation — 51 people (32%) indicated that they do not check work email while on vacation. Conversely, though, that means that more than two-thirds check work email when they should be sipping margaritas or relaxing on the beach.

Here is a quick summary of all the responses (results do not equal 100 as it was multiple choice):

Although the numbers in and of themselves are interesting, what I found most fascinating was the long list of comments. Here are a few sample comments:

Comment by Eileen. (Monday, July 14, 2008 3:11:27 PM CEST) Less so at night but definitely on weekends and vacation. I’d rather spend a few minutes a day keeping up with it than deal with it when I get back. When I’m on vacations I will hit the delete key more quickly — especially with list mail. Anytime I’m at home or on vacation I tend to respond to only what I need to. I almost never check work-related blogs though.

Comment by Anonymous. (Monday, July 14, 2008 9:55:35 PM CEST) Though I don’ t check e-mail from home. I have been known to come to work for a meeting while on vacation, do check my voicemail sometimes, and have taken home work that I knew would require too much time during my work day.

Comment by Patty. (Monday, July 14, 2008 3:48:31 PM CEST) I’ll check it occasionally at night through the week and usually every weekend at least once or twice, but I rarely act on anything unless it is dire. It can usually wait until I get to work but I am curious to see what is going on.

And, perhaps most wise of all:

Comment by Becky. (Tuesday, July 29, 2008 11:57:32 PM CEST) follow up – I have a friend who says no one ever died of a Library emergency, and I try to remember that, even as I’m checking.

I have been trying to check my email less frequently when I am not at the library with some measure of success and I think my life is better for it. Still, I mostly fall in the camp of wanting to know what is going on (even if I don’t respond to the message) and being able to delete anything unimportant over the weekend to make re-entry on Monday easier. It seems as if curiosity is a trait of many who are constant email checkers.

I used to check less frequently from home on weeknights, but since I took over as PPL’s program coordinator I find that it often puts my mind at ease to check email quickly after 9 pm to get the update on how the evening went at the library. We have programs almost nightly and when someone else is covering the program I want to know if things went smoothly. I know that I can do nothing about it from home if things went wrong, but still I seem to need to know.

Perhaps library workers need to follow the popular trend of having a Technology Sabbath — ditching email, all online communication and our cell phones for one day each weekend. It would be tough for many, myself included, but it is something worth considering.

Please take a few moments to scroll way down and read the rest of the comments left on the poll. Also feel free to leave comments on this post about your email habits — and if you plan to change them in the future based upon this unscientific research.


August 18, 2008 at 10:03 pm 6 comments

A Quick Poll for Libraryland

I was out with friends last night for an MNO (Mom’s Night Out) and we ended up talking about email and how much it overwhelmed us at times. I told them that although I was technically on vacation this week I still checked my email once or twice day and, except for one friend, they all thought I was nuts.

One of my friends, who is senior management at a large insurance company, shared that she checked work email daily and at home in the evenings no matter what — vacations or sickness, etc. The others are all mothers who work outside the home (just like me) but they indicated that they leave work email at work and never check from home — they are two teachers, a nurse, therapist, and a manager in a small company.

So here it is Saturday and I just logged in to check my work email and while I was reading my messages I started to wonder, how many other librarians and library workers check their email from home and when?

I used Doodle, one of my favorite “fantastic freebies“, to create a quick poll that will give us a quick snapshot type answer to the questions “Do You Check Email From Home?”. Just go to this doodle poll and check off all that apply. You can check more than one answer and you can be anonymous if you want. Also, you can leave comments and further explain your email habits. I will leave the poll up for a week or so and then summarize on the blog later this month.

July 12, 2008 at 12:43 pm 1 comment

Email Woes … and the answer to my woes?

I have spent the better part of the last 5 days at work writing emails, responding to emails, trying to delete as much email as possible, organizing email, and so on. I used to absolutely love email when I first started using it 15 years or so ago. Now, not so much. In fact, I would have to say that at this very moment that email is my arch-nemesis.

I have long thought about declaring email bankruptcy, but I know that this is not really a viable option for a variety of reasons. Still, I dream about actually doing it one day and can imagine that it would feel very liberating.

In the not too distant past I had a rule of thumb for my inbox at work: No more than 100 messages at any given time and I was not allowed to leave on Friday until I was below my 100 quota. Messages either had to be answered, deleted or filed. The ones that remained were generally there for a good reason.

My current inbox is suffering from a severe case of bloat — both in terms of the number of messages that it contains and the length of those messages. I generally have in excess of 1,000 messages in my inbox and at the current moment I am approaching 1,600 (largely due to the email that accumulated during annual in DC). This does not include my spam or junk folders, this is legitimate email. My email flood began last summer when I took over as Program Coordinator at MPOW. I never imagined that organizing programs for a library would require such intense email efforts (and I will leave my rant about voice mail for another day).

Since I feel unable to surrender to email bankruptcy, I am thinking that the Web Worker Daily has delivered my solution to me : Stop being “Nice”. A light bulb went on as soon as I read the following:

We’re suffering from outdated rules and expectations about email that don’t work in our email-saturated world. Perhaps short emails without extra niceties are not just acceptable but preferable in our connected world on the web. Now that we have better ways of connecting on a human level (think IM, IRC, blogging) maybe we can put email back into its rightful place as merely a convenient way of communicating when we don’t have a real time connection..

… for getting work done on a daily basis, we could all benefit from an email etiquette that calls for short and to-the-point messages.


I admit that I am guilty of being “nice” in many of my email transactions and perhaps this is what is really slowing my productivity down. I am going to work on being a little less nice and a lot more to the point in my email from now on. Any tips on how I can accomplish this would be appreciated — oh, and if anyone else wants to share the bloat of their inbox it might be interesting to see how many of us our caught in the flood.

July 5, 2007 at 12:18 pm 3 comments

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