The Long and Short of It.

Recently, at a children’s librarian services meeting, we talked about sending out emails to teachers in local schools to tell them about library services. Often, teachers just don’t have time, or don’t think to check with local libraries before assigning projects to their students. And then we’ll get fifteen children in looking for books about tree frogs, for example.  As you can imagine, we don’t carry an infinite number of books on tree frogs, so if teachers were more aware of our collections, they’d be able to use us better.

But when we discussed sending emails to the teachers regarding programs and collections, the idea came up that emails are too easy to ignore these days. There was a time when email seemed to be the preferred method of reaching out to people. You can add multiple email addresses onto one email, saving time. But do people read emails now? I know I often open emails and file them in a to-be-read folder if they don’t require urgent responses. So, how effective are emails anymore?

I came across a blog post talking about the joys of handwriting a letter, and in it, the author discussed the brisk, short emails we all seem to get on a daily basis. She mentioned how she loved it when she received a long, detailed email in which she could savour the contents.  I’m not sure a long email about the virtue of our library collection would be received in the same way, but it certainly got me thinking about doing a handout, rather than an email.  When you’re trying to stand out in a sea of emails, it’s impossible.  But a simple, coloured sheet of paper might be just the thing to catch a teacher’s attention. It’s not an environmentally friendly idea when compared to the email, but maybe once a year, it’s necessary.

How easy is it to bypass emails these days?  And do you find that you miss important information because everything arrives in this medium now? I’m going to try to handouts this year and see what kind of response we get instead of electronic communication. Maybe we’re still an analog society at heart.

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