Mailing lists are an incredibly useful resource used widely by the library and information community to share knowledge and ideas as well as job adverts, conference information and more. However, when you’re new to the profession it can seem a bit daunting, and mailing list are not the most user friendly of resources so this guide will help explain the basics.
Why should I subscribe to mailing lists?
As someone coming into the library and information profession you will probably find that some of the discussions on mailing lists do not seem relevant to you, but don’t let this put you off! Subscribing to mailing lists is one of the best things you can do to enhance your professional awareness as it will allow you an insight into issues and discussions happening in a variety of sectors, and specialisms. If the are topics that you don’t know anything about then use it as an opportunity to do a bit of research.
Job adverts are frequently posted to mailing lists. Even if you are not currently looking for a job it’s useful to keep an eye on what opportunities are coming up and the sort of skills employers are looking for.
Almost all conferences, workshops, visits, talks and other events will be advertised on mailing lists. Often mailing lists are the first place you’ll hear about them. It’s a much easier way to find out about upcoming events than constantly searching across various platforms for events.
The majority of library and information related mailing lists that will be of interest to those in the UK are hosted by JISCMail. This guide will focus on JISCMail lists, but you may find that there are others you can join hosted elsewhere.
The first thing you need to do is visit the JISCMail homepage. Scroll down to the ‘quick links’ and select register password. This will take you to a page with a box where you must input your email address and a password of choice. Once you submit this, you need to wait for a confirmation email to activate your account (this usually takes a few minutes to arrive). It’s so easy that it’s hard to believe that’s all it takes.
Once your account is activated, you’ll be able to log in to JISCMail and start choosing some lists to subscribe to! You can either use the search box in the top right-hand corner, or hover over ‘Groups’ in the menu, then select ‘Categories’. Select the library category and you will find a huge range of library and information related lists.
Make sure you choose the ‘digest’ option when subscribing to mailing lists. Rather than receiving individual emails every time someone posts to the list you’ll get a summary of any posts to the list once a day.
You don’t have to respond to mailing lists, it’s perfectly fine to lurk, however if you do want to contribute then please note that each mailing list has it’s own etiquette. For example some mailing lists prefer that subscribers reply ‘off-list’ – replying to the person who initially posted directly, rather than to the whole list. Other lists will encourage active discussion and encourage responses to be made to the list. For most lists this is an unwritten etiquette, so make sure you take some time to get to know the list before contributing.
There are hundreds of library and information lists that you could subscribe to on JISCMail, but we would recommend being somewhat selective about the number and type of lists you choose. You don’t want to overwhelm your inbox with mailing lists
LIS-LINK is a general library and information list. It’s one of the more active lists and one we’d recommend any aspiring library and information professionals subscribe to. The vast majority of CPD opportunities and events around are advertised on this list. Job postings are also a frequent addition to this list.
LIS-PROFESSION is another general list, but with a greater focus on professional development. You’ll find information about events, bursaries, and other CPD opportunities posted to this list so we’d recommend it to anyone.
As well as general lists that to all library and information professionals you may want to subscribe to a few lists that cater more specifically to your current role or interests. There are lists for types of libraries such as LIS-PUB-LIBS (public libraries) and LIS-MEDICAL (medical and healthcare libraries). There are also lists for special interests such as LIS-INFOLITERACY (information literacy), LIS-BIBS (bibliometric standards and metadata), or LIS-RAREBOOKS (rare books and special collections).
Finally, there’s one list we would highly recommend to all future library and information professionals: FLIP-NETWORK. That’s right – we’ve got our own mailing list! The mailing list is for anyone who would like to be a part of the FLIP Network and we would encourage you to use it to address any questions, comments or concerns you have about the library and information profession. You could also post links to anything you think will be of interest to other members of the list.
What mailing lists do you subscribe to? Are there any you would particularly recommend to fellow aspiring library and information professionals? Let us know in the comments below!