Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Bye Bye Email?

with 8 comments

So I’ve been trying to make plans to visit two of my friends who live in Boston, MA. We’ve been discussing possible dates via Facebook messages because Facebook allows you to write and respond to more than one person at a time, with your conversation saved so you can see the history of what has been discussed (this is called a thread). Yesterday I received this email from one of the friends (my emphasis):

“Yo dudes. I can’t get on Facebook so I thought I’d use some older internet tech and actually email a person!”

Facebook was down for a couple of hours for maintenance. Which got me to thinking… my friend is right. Email is starting to become obsolete. I didn’t even think about the fact that when I initially wanted to ask my friends about visiting, I went to Facebook. I didn’t consider emailing them. It was an unconscious decision on my part. I just assumed that they would have access to their Facebook accounts sooner (and more frequently) than their email.

Then I started thinking about my own correspondence habits. I contribute to multiple blogs. I comment on my friends’ Facebook walls and message them. I text message as if my life depended on it. I very, very rarely email a friend. I use email chiefly for work, to deal with the administration & bursar at Syracuse University for my graduate courses, my NMRT mentor, and the occasional miscellaneous email to people in my life who aren’t very techno-savvy (i.e. my parents who don’t know how to subscribe to the RSS feed for my personal blog and who can receive but not send text messages). I know many people who use Twitter (micro-blogging) in a variety of different ways to communicate with friends and colleagues.

What does this mean for library users? What does this mean for library professionals? Is email going to go away? Are more immediate and public modes of communication taking precedence? Are students even using email anymore?


Written by Erin Dorney

January 17, 2008 at 8:32 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

8 Responses

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  1. haha I had no idea facebook was out! I’m just not allowed to get on at work, it’s blocked by websense. Along with myspace, youtube and anything remotely fun.

    Also, I remember in the beginning of college (maybe end of freshman year?) when our schools librarians started using AIM as a means of helping students. At the time I found it incredibly lame and strange, but it definitely makes sense looking back. They were catching up with our generation but at the same time somewhat ahead of the way most libraries/other “grown up” run institutions operate.


    January 17, 2008 at 8:41 PM

  2. Really? When I got your email, I checked to see if my Facebook was working and it wouldn’t let me log in for some reason… weird! Websense is a filtering/blocking thing I take it…?

    Interesting that you thought it was lame at the time (AIM reference). Do you think that students now think it is lame that some libraries are on Facebook, MySpace, etc? Just curious…

    Thanks for commenting, Kara!! 🙂


    January 17, 2008 at 9:24 PM

  3. If you want to have a dialogue between just a few folks…theres this thing that provides instant feedback, and is almost never down. Have a conference call…

    YD (Your Daddy)

    January 18, 2008 at 2:11 PM

  4. I’m sure the students that would actually utilize libraries on a regular basis in the first place will find the presence of librarians/libraries online helpful.
    other than that I’m not privvy to much undergrad thinking these days. 😉


    January 18, 2008 at 7:48 PM

  5. Dad – I’ve never participated in a conference call in any way. Do you think that mode of communication is still being used a lot these days? Perhaps it is an I just haven’t experienced it yet…

    Kara – I just asked because there was recently a study released that talks about how students don’t necessarily want to see (or connect with) librarians via Facbook. Pretty interesting… More here:


    January 19, 2008 at 11:13 PM

  6. Erin-Yes you’ve done one, remember that conference call interview you just had??That would probably have been impossible to replicate through any other means, i.e. facebook, e-mail, etc, so yes I do think there will always be value in voice communication, which is still only third best, behind audiovisual, and, in first place, comes that old standby, face to face. The methods of communication so in vogue these days, fail to capture the intrinsics, like body language and pauses/hesitations/response times/”mistakes’ that can’t be taken back, etc, etc. That which looks good on paper does not always measure up in real life.

    YD (Your Daddy)

    January 20, 2008 at 3:40 PM

  7. You’re right!! I didn’t even think about it. But it wasn’t really a conference call. Well, maybe we just don’t use that word for it today. I was on speaker phone. So it’s basically the same thing, but there is another example of how things are changing. I didn’t think of that as a conference call for some reason. Weird…


    January 20, 2008 at 5:49 PM

  8. I think you kind of make a good point. I know I find myself using facebook to communicate more, especially with peers, if for no other reason than the fact that in a lot of cases, I just don’t know their email. Not to mention the number of times college students log into facebook everyday. I figure if I send them a message on facebook, I have a better chance of reaching them sooner than if I message them by email. Like you, I tend to save emails for more “professional” stuff, I guess, like school, and work. Family. Email is kind of a more “formal” mode of communication almost.

    .. now you’ve got me thinking..


    January 21, 2008 at 3:29 PM

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