From September 24-25, 2013, readers advisory experts from CODES will facilitate a focused online conversation entitled “Form-Based RA: What Asynchronous RA Can Teach All of Us (even those not offering such an option) About Service, Appeal and Working With Readers.” All adult services librarians are welcome to join and follow the conversation, and contribute ideas or just listen in.You do not need to be a RUSA member to participate.
I have myself signed up for ALL of these conversations, so I get them in my email box automatically. But I do want to warn everyone on the best way to handle what becomes a very busy couple days of messages. Here are some tips to keep you from being overwhelmed and to get the most you can out of the conversation.
- Use a different email account. Do not use your main email for this conversation. Or, if you do, use a filter to get everything into one folder away from your daily messages. There will be a lot of messages, and due to different time zones, they will come in over the course of about 18 hours throughout the day. I have everything go to my Gmail, which I mostly use for blog business and Google based things like my You Tube subscriptions. It is not an account I need for daily interactions with people (like my hotmail or work email), so the huge influx of messages does not effect my work.
- Do read the supplementary material before hand. RUSA has posted this excellent resource guide in advance of the conversation. It contains material and information that will help you to prepare for and get the most out of the 2 day email fest. Please take the time to look this over. RUSA has prepared well and I for one do not want the moderators to have to spend the time going backward in this conversation. Forward march! Read the resource guide.
- Don't' get stressed by the number of messages. There will be a ton of messages. Say it again....There will be a ton of messages. And you will not be able to read and respond to all of them in a timely fashion. Again, you WILL NOT get to all of them as quickly as you want. There are RUSA designated moderators whose job it is to respond frequently and keep the conversation going. They are on shifts. Even they cannot reply to everything. Instead of going bonkers over the number of messages, look at it as a positive. You have so many more perspectives on the topic, from all over the country, from others who are doing what you do. I guarantee if you stop fussing about how many messages there are and just read what you can, you will take away something you can use to better help your patrons. And you can respond to any thread at any time. If the that thread seemed to have died out half a day ago, you can still post to that topic. I bet there are others who are just getting to it late like you.
- It's okay to lurk. Heck, that's all I do on these conversations. I do it mostly because with this blog, I feel like I do all the talking. So with these conversations, I sit back and see what everyone else has to say. It is my chance to shut up and listen. But for everyone, it is okay to simply read the messages. If you don't have time to keep up with the conversation, you can still get a lot out of your passive participation.
- Follow online etiquette. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of messages, don't post to everyone. Please take the time to contact the administrator separately. Or, just ignore the the messages and delete them. Also, if you disagree with someone, write a response clearly stating why you feel differently. You examples, not accusations. If you feel as if your counter opinion is not being hear in the midst of the larger conversation, email the moderator and the person with whom you disagree outside of the conversation. Look, the email conversation model is not perfect, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Just think before you post. Nobody likes a whiner. We only have 2 days and I for one want to hear what people have to say about the topic on the table, not about the problems you personally are having with the system or a specific person.
- Continue the conversation after the 2 days. I have this blog. So sometime after the conversation ends, I will digest my thoughts on the entire process and post my personal takeaways. But many of you don't have a blog. Still, I would suggest jotting down your takeaways for future reference and/or to present to your co-workers (I will also be doing this). Don't forget, you can always contact someone whose posts intrigued you for more information after the conversation ends. Start up an email conversation afterward. I have done this after past CODES conversations and as a result have made some great contacts.
- Have fun while you learn something. These CODES Conversations are a great way to network with colleagues from all over the country. You can do it on your own time, from anywhere, even while wearing your pajamas. Meet new people, learn new tips, and enjoy the camaraderie of being an RA librarian. Click here to get started.
If you want to share a tip, please leave it in the comments.