Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘email

Facebook Messages: Where Things Go To Die

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I have a co-authored article up over at In the Library with the Lead Pipe about email management. We would love to hear more about your experience with email and your strategies for dealing with messages in your inbox!

Lindsay and I didn’t really delve into other types of message management—the article is about standard email inboxes. But there are messaging/inbox capabilities built into many social media tools these days. On Twitter you can send someone a Direct Message (DM), a private tweet that acts like a limited character email message. DMs aren’t a problem for me because I really only check them when I specifically ask someone to DM me. Otherwise it’s not even on my radar and I don’t forward these messages to any other account or device. The limited scope has helped me handle my DM inbox.

facebook notifications

Facebook messages are a different story. Facebook messages, for me, are where things go to die. True story. I don’t mind Facebook chat… if I am online, definitely message me in real-time. But for some reason, I have not been able to incorporate the Facebook inbox into my normal flow of checking and responding. For fun stuff with my friends it’s fine because there is no real pressure to reply right away. But I do get a number of Facebook messages related to library/work stuff. Those are the messages that always seem to fall through the cracks. I’m not really sure why this is but I have some ideas:

  • I have a gut reaction to the little red numbers that pop up for notifications, messages, and friend requests, so I click on my messages (but often don’t read them right away) just to get that alert to go away. Seeing it there makes me kind of anxious. Am I the only one or do other people feel this way? Then, I forget that there are new messages and it could be days (weeks?) before I get around to reading them.
  • To a certain extent, I see Facebook as more of a social/fun site than a tool I conduct work within. It’s great for some aspects of work—networking with other librarians, building your online identity, promoting different events, engaging through your institutional page, etc. I go to Facebook to learn things and to connect but it’s pretty casual.

I just always seem to forget about messages that are living in Facebook. I see them and then I forget about them. Maybe this is because I really do use my email inbox as a to-do list (although I’m trying to break that habit) and Facebook just seems more… fleeting? It might come down to having too many places to check for messages. Perhaps it’s not email that is overwhelming me, but multiple inboxes? There are so many different places where my response is required:

  1. Personal email
  2. Work email (including accounts associated with research help, outreach, and the renovation)
  3. Twitter (personal feed + DMs; library feed + DMs)
  4. Facebook (personal wall + messages; library wall + messages)
  5. Blog comments (personal + Lead Pipe)
  6. Voice mail (work + personal)
  7. Text messages
  8. Chat (Facebook + GChat)

I’m probably forgetting some. It’s helpful for me to list these out so that I can think about making a plan for managing my communication. When I don’t reply, people typically reach out to me through another channel but I’m sure I miss people (and opportunities). I want to apologize to anyone whose Facebook message I have missed—it’s nothing personal! And despite this angst, I have contacted people via Facebook message regarding library/work stuff. So, I have not been good at setting expectations for where different type of communication should take place.

This is something I want to reflect more on and potentially share my communication preferences with everyone. I think this would lower my stress and alleviate frustration for people who might not be receiving a timely response. How do you cope with multiple message streams? Any suggestions for me? Feel free to share here or over at Lead Pipe!

Written by Erin Dorney

November 5, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Help us speak at SXSWi 2013!

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sxsw logo

This year I submitted two core conversation proposals for SXSW Interactive. Acceptance at this conference is extremely competitive—over 3,200 speaking proposals were submitted for 2013, more than ever before. This is where I need your help! Public voting accounts for 30% of the decision-making process regarding which proposals are selected (40% of the process is the SXSW Advisory Board and 30% is based on the input of SXSW staff).

Anyone who creates an account on the SXSW Panel Picker is eligible to vote on the ideas they believe are most appropriate for the 2013 event (even if you don’t plan on attending). It’s a simple process that will only take a few minutes of your time. If either (or both) of my topics sound intriguing to you, I would love your support! It would be a dream come true to present at SXSW—I’ve never been to Texas, y’all!

Voting is open now through August 31st. Thanks in advance for your help! And if you’re a librar* aficionado, check out and vote for the other library, archives, and museum-related proposals (follow #sxswLAM on Twitter for details).

Proposal 1: Seriously Good Writing on the Web w/ @frierson re: @libraryleadpipe

Everyone’s got opinions. How do you make sure yours don’t stink? Join our core conversation for an engaging discussion about how to ensure your writing is taken seriously on the web. Team members from the award-winning blog In the Library with the Lead Pipe will facilitate and share tips on new, nimble, proactive forms of digital publishing which borrow editing practices from academia but add an idea-centric, action-oriented approach to content. Help us define a new genre of publication that leverages seriously good writing while at the same time encouraging commentary, discussion, and participation.

  1. How can I ensure my writing is taken seriously on the Internet?
  2. How do I structure an editorial/peer-review process?
  3. How can I get people to volunteer to create content for free?
  4. How can I maintain an action-oriented approach to long-form, scholarly writing?
  5. How do we define this new genre of publication?

Proposal 2: The SXSW Statements: Your Email is Killing Us w/ @lcsarin

Email drive you batty? “Reply All” make you want to scream? Lots of people have tried writing email manifestos and bills of rights, but the problem remains. It’s time for the thought leaders at SXSW to stand up and say NO MORE. At this participatory session attendees will create an collaborative digital public declaration that takes a stand against clumsy communicators. Once designed, this crowd-sourced manifesto will be shared around the globe, in the hopes that we can enjoy a little less work and a lot more play. Let your voice be heard!

  1. What are the “new rules” of email in the digital age?
  2. What does an effective email look like?
  3. What are the rules for “reply all”?
  4. How can I manage my inbox without having a mental breakdown?
  5. How can I teach my friends/colleagues/boss about proper use of email (without pissing them off)?

Written by Erin Dorney

August 13, 2012 at 2:08 PM

What I’m not bringing to ALA

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girl with suitcase

Travel is stressful by *Seth on Flickr

There are some pretty intriguing posts popping up around the web detailing what people are packing for the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. Some of my favorites can be found at Librarian Wardrobe, but there are also packing/conference tips from Bobbi Newman at Librarian by Day and and advice from Karen Schneider at Free Range Librarian. Be sure to check them out if you’re attending!

My post is a bit different. Here are four things you won’t find me bringing to ALA 2011:

  1. Laptop. I typically drag my MacBook with me to conferences. I tend to take notes by hand (gasp!) in a small notebook that I can toss into my purse and then type them up at night or post-conference. Occasionally, I bring my laptop to sessions but only if I am fairly certain I will be able to find an outlet nearby (this beast is a power hog). But for NOLA, I will be sans personal computer for six days. I got an iPhone a few weeks back so I am hoping that will be enough connectivity to sustain me, but I already know I’ll feel naked! I am planning on using my phone to check email, keep up with Twitter, etc. and maybe the hotel business center if I miss the clickity-clack of a keyboard during my stay.
  2. Work. Oh, out-of-office-auto-responder, how I love thee. Let me count the ways… I will refrain from work email during ALA (part of the reason for saying it out loud here is to hold myself accountable). I will focus on networking, my presentations & learning from/having fun with my colleagues. The library will not implode. No one will die. I will catch up next week. I will not feel guilty about this.
  3. Workout stuffs. Yeah, I tried this at a few conferences. It wound up being a waste of expensive suitcase space for running shoes, etc. and it just never happens! I am either too damn tired at the end of a day of conference sessions or too darn drunk to run on a treadmill. Some people can make it happen, but I just don’t have enough willpower.
  4. Pleasure reading. I can always snag free books in the exhibit hall if so inclined. However,  I have found that if you have a ton of time to relax and read, you might not be getting as much out of the conference as you could be. I will get out of my room (and my comfort zone) to make the most of this trip while paying attention not to overextend myself mentally or physically.

So, what are you leaving behind when you head to ALA later this week?

Written by Erin Dorney

June 21, 2011 at 8:40 PM

So, you’re thinking about becoming a librarian?

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One of my favorite things about being a new librarian is that I now have a little bit of experience to offer to others. I am in constant communication with people across the country who are considering becoming  librarians or who are going through library school. These people find me a number of ways, including:

Other potential librarians find me through mutual acquaintances, Facebook, internet searches that turn up my blog, or Twitter. I have even had faculty members encourage their students to talk to me about my recent experience in library school. These communications are fascinating to me! Sometimes they consist of a phone call, sometimes in person, sometimes off the cuff, via email and even through Facebook messages and chat. I truly enjoy this aspect of now being an “MLIS-toting” librarian – I hope that my honesty can assist these interested parties in making a decision on whether this is the right career choice for them.

I think that this is certainly another area where librarians can utilize their networking skills. Not only do both parties benefit (you get connected to library newbs and get to share your passion while they gain insider information about the field from someone with experience), but you never know when relationships will develop. You might just kindle a friendship or professional working relationship that can last years. It’s also another way to get your name out there and encourage new and innovative people to join the field. Librarianship as a profession is not uber-complicated, but I think the misunderstanding of who we are and what we do encourages a certain level of secrecy that potential newcomers may be intimidated by. When I talk to someone, I try to be as open as possible, sharing  both my positive and negative experiences.

Recently, I was contacted by a student at my undergraduate alma mater, St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. She found my name through the CARD database mentioned above and asked me a few questions about my job. Below are her questions along with my responses. Do you have anything to add? I encourage all librarians to get involved in mentoring newcomers… most colleges and universities already have systems in place where you can enter your information in order to be connected to current students and recent graduates. Not only is it good for networking and information sharing, but the PR effect of having librarians listed in these types of directories can do a lot for the changing image of our profession!

What is the level of schooling needed for your career?
In order to be a librarian, you need to attend graduate school. A list of programs accredited by the American Library Association can be found here: It’s important to go to an ALA-accredited school.

Are there any specific courses or classes you would recommend I take?
All of the library programs are basically the same. You will learn stuff like customer service, cataloging, reference and research assistance, collection development, how to use databases, etc. Most programs have a management class as well, and sometimes a marketing class. I would recommend technology-related courses, anything with digital libraries, web design and development, and marketing.

Are there internships or shadow days that I can take advantage of?

It is almost imperative. Many students graduate from their library program with no experience in an actual library. It is very difficult to find an entry-level position with no experience. If you can’t find a position as a staff member (technician, part time, etc) while you are in school, interning somewhere or volunteering is a great way to gain that experience. I worked at Lavery Library while I was an undergraduate, then I worked as a clerk in a public library for a few months and then as an interlibrary loan technician at RIT while I was getting my master’s degree. That experience allowed me to secure a permanent position in an academic library before I even graduated. Most libraries are very willing to accept interns and volunteers, especially future librarians.

Is it important to make the patrons feel comfortable? How do you go about doing so? (I volunteer in a library occasionally, and that always plays a big role in to who visits, and when.)
It is very important. For me, it’s a little easier to do in an academic library setting – the students are close to my age, so I think they feel more comfortable asking me for assistance than the older, more experienced librarians. They won’t ask for help if the perceive you to be busy or unwilling to offer guidance. So it’s important to look approachable. I try to make eye-contact with people as they walk by and ask if they need anything. I think making sure that your lines of verbal and non-verbal communication is beneficial. I’m sure you know this from volunteering, but once people establish a repport with you, they will come back time and time again. This leads to mutually beneficial relationships because the patron feels more and more comfortable asking you for assistance and feedback.

What is the end that makes all the means necessary? Do you want to sell a product or endorse something or do you want to improve someone else’s quality of life?
I think I’ve chosen the perfect profession. I get to go into work every day and help people with whatever they need. Every day is different. In an academic library I get to be surrounded by a culture of learning. I love the fact that I don’t have to work for some evil corporation and especially that I don’t have to meet sales quotas, lie during pitches, or reprimand people. I simply help them have a better experience in the library and hopefully find the information their looking for.

Do you create your own schedule or do the people around you do that?
I have to say, I have a sweet job at the moment. I am at an academic university where the librarians are considered faculty members (people refer to me as Professor, which is a mind-trip!). As such, all library decisions are made at the departmental level, which means 12 librarians. We don’t have direct supervisors and I don’t report up. I simply work for the best interest of the library and the students. I get to set my own schedule, which is amazing. I have never had such freedom and flexibility in a job before. Along with that comes a high level of responsibility, but I think it’s totally worth it!

Do you mentor other people or do you emulate others?
I do both. I mentor lots of people who are considering entering the library profession, including former classmates, student workers and people who ask me for help (such as yourself). Lots of people find me through my blog, Facebook, Twitter, or the Syracuse University website where I am listed as an alumni class leader. So I help a lot of people by just sharing my experiences with them. I try to emulate the librarians and library professionals who I look up to. I read a lot of blogs, participate in conferences and presentation, networking, etc. I think we can all learn a lot from each other.

Is your field growing or staying the same? What are potential opportunities arising in your field? Do you think that, when I graduate in two years, your career will still be open?
There will be lots of people retiring from the library field in coming years. Sometimes that is referred to as “greying of the profession.” At the same time, libraries are changing dramatically. Positions that have been filled in the past are being revamped, updated, and eliminated. New and less traditional positions are appearing. Lots of them are technology related, some are like mine, dealing with public relations and marketing (I am the Outreach Librarian), some are customer service oriented like User Experience Librarian. There are tons of opportunities for newcomers. Everyone I have encountered so far has been helpful and appreciative of new blood entering the field. There are places and people where that is not the case (librarians who dislike the change that is accompanying the generational shift), but for the most part, people are open. I think if you keep your goal in mind throughout school, and participate in activities that bring you closer to that goal, you should be fine. Just realize that the old days of the card catalog and shushing librarian are (for the most part) already far gone.

How do you see your place in the world? Is there anything specific you hope to achieve? (Monetary amount, personal goals)
I see my place as helping students on their educational journey. I want to help them become better, more educated and experiences citizens who can achieve their goals. I want their experience with the library to be a positive and beneficial one so that they will become library champions, utilizing their public libraries in the future and with their children, appreciating literature and reading, using technology to interact with the global community and being knowledgeable about the viewpoints of humanity. These are some of the things I hope to achieve.

Who do you rely on? A personal coach? Friends? Family? Assistants?
I have a huge network of people I rely on daily. I have many professional contacts including librarians from around the country. I have close friends who I attended graduate school with, and friends from every stage of life. Their constant support is imperative to my mental state of mind. They present opportunities for me, help me to make decisions, and support my personal and professional journey. I hope that I offer the same to them.

Written by Erin Dorney

August 1, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Web two point what?

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Welcome to Erin 2.0!

Below I have compiled a list of all the websites/applications that I currently have a profile/account on that might fall under a loose definition of Web 2.0 (interactive, social, collaborative, sharing, login). It was interesting to put together, and I didn’t realize that I had this many user-names and passwords that I (on occasion) remember correctly.

  • Flickr – Photo sharing
    • I have photos listed as private as well as public.
  • Facebook – Social networking
    • I have a profile accessible to friends only.
  • Blogger – Blogging
    • I have a private blog available to friends and family and two public blogs: one that was created for a Syracuse University course and one that was created to describe my SUNYLA Conference experience.
  • WordPress – Blogging
    • I have a public blog (the one you are reading!).
  • Livejournal – Blogging/journal
    • In high school I had a private Livejournal account, which I have since deleted. For a current Syracuse University course I was required to make a new account in order to contribute to a class blog.
  • LinkedIn – Social networking
    • I have a private profile (defeating the purpose?).
  • Second Life – Virtual world
    • I have an avatar and am exploring Second Life.
  • AOL Instant Messenger – Messaging system
    • I have had various AIM screen names (SN) since I was at least 14. I currently use my AIM SN to chat with friends only (and do not typically disseminate my SN to colleagues).
  • MSN Messenger – Messaging system
    • I have a public MSN SN used for internal work communications.
  • Pidgin – Messaging system
    • I use Pidgin to log into my work SN and my AIM SN at the same time, allowing me to talk with friends and peers simultaneously.
  • Inbox – Email
    • I use for my email account. It’s free, has lots of cool features (notes, multiple calendars, on-line storage space), and is very good with spam and advertisements (very unobtrusive).
  • eSnips – Web storage
    • I heard about eSnips at the 2007 NYLA Conference in Buffalo, NY. It’s a free, web-based storage site where you can upload and save documents and other important items. I use it to store papers for class that I can then access from home and work without having to email them to myself every time!
  • Google Reader – RSS feed reader
    • I use Google Reader to stay abreast of many blog updates.
  • Roc Wiki – Wiki
    • I am a member of, but have yet to substantially contribute to this community wiki. However, I visit it all the time, mostly to find out restaurant information.
  • Wetpaint – Wiki
  • Webshots – Photo sharing
    • I used Webshots in college to organize digital photos. Because most of them involved rather unprofessional behavior, they are now located in private albums unavailable to the public.
  • LibraryThing – Book cataloging
    • I have a LibraryThing account to share my reading lists with friends as well as keep track of what books I currently own in my personal collection. I recently reached the limit for a free account and am thinking about purchasing a life membership for US $25.00. I also receive occasional free books as an Early Reviewer, which is totally sweet.
  • – Social bookmarking
    • I have a account with public and private bookmarks saved.

The items in this list (below) are applications/websites where I used to have a profile/account and for one reason or another, no longer do.

  • Ning – Social networking
    • I was introduced to Ning during a summer course at Syracuse University. However, after we used it for class, I deleted my account because I just didn’t like it. It doesn’t seem as intuitive or user-friendly as other social networking sites, and I found myself not logging in for weeks at a time.
  • MySpace – Social networking
    • I used to have a MySpace page, but deleted it because it seemed rather pointless to have both a MySpace and a Facebook account with virtually identical friends. More of my friends are on Facebook anyway, so I just deleted my MySpace account. I also find that Facebook has more options available for privacy settings (compared to the all or nothing of MySpace).

    Hopefully this can give readers a glimpse at what one 23 year old is using on a day to day basis to accomplish her personal, professional, and educational goals. I am using 18 different services, mostly .coms. Boy, would I be lost if the net went down! Eventually, widespread OpenID may let me log into many of them using the same user-name and password, a novel thought!

    How many of these applications/websites do you use? What other services do you use? Which services can libraries utilize? What are your thoughts on Web 2.0?

    Written by Erin Dorney

    February 12, 2008 at 4:00 AM

    Bye Bye Email?

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    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

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