The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

The Cost of #noemail

Cost of #noemailToday, I paid the cost for #noemail. The cost was $7.00.

I was cleaning my office and picking up books that I’d checked out of the UNC Library. Among those books was one that was just out and so had some sort of truncated checkout time. Most books are available to faculty for several months. This book was only allowed to be taken out for a few weeks. Oops!

I trucked my books over to the Library. First as a negotiator trained at the Grand Bazaar, I tried to get credit for the books I was returning early to offset the few days that my one special book was overdue. No dice.

Then I was told that my fine was extra. Not because of my negotiation attempts, but because the book had been recalled even before the due date.

The Library robot had sent me email. Err, didn’t the Library robot or her minder get my message that I don’t do email? If they had, then there are many ways to contact me.

— Oh, we’ve set up the messages so that we don’t receive replies. But we do include a link in the message so that you can just click on that link and then we add your message to our database.

Doesn’t adding several links to an automated message pretty much assure that the message gets marked as spam?

— We never thought of that. $7 is the charge.

But is there any way at all that you contact people who choose not to use email? I mean, everyone fills out a lot of contact information and the UNC One Card is tied to the Campus directory. It’s not hard to find ways to contact people other than email. Hey, the robot could call or text just as easily.

— We only do email.

I paid $7. 1/20th the cost of a new Kindle.


  1. RogerTheGeek

    8/1/2011 at 3:10 pm

    With all the APIs to different social media, it would be as easy to SMS, Tweet, or G+ as it is to send email messages. I guess they haven’t caught up yet.

  2. I have a task set up in my To Do list: Renew library books. When that comes due, I Renew All (and I usually have like 50 books checked out at any given time), & change the due date for that task to the soonest due date… which is usually months off. Rinse, repeat. I’ve been doing this for years. I’m bucking for my own call number.

  3. Paul

    8/1/2011 at 6:32 pm

    Would have worked for me — almost. The recall notice being email only is what caught me unawares. I should work on the email folder – RSS thing for library mail or get a Kindle

  4. Paul

    8/2/2011 at 8:13 am

    I’ve done some exploring since my last comment and see that you can opt for paper mail! Oddly no one told me that at the book return. But sure enough it’s there at under myLibrary and “Manage Email” which really means select your preferred email addy or opt out of email and into paper announcements.

    “Please enter new information and press Submit.

    I would like to receive my notices from the library by:
    o Postal Mail
    o Email”

    Mine now is set for going Postal.

  5. Megan Garrett

    8/2/2011 at 8:14 am

    They (University Libraries) do send out snail mail notices, but only if you’ve registered with them and the university (because that’s where they pull it) that you do not have an e-mail address… this may be difficult since the university assigns you an e-mail. The only problem with the mail notices is you’d probably still have a fine because by the time you got your notice, the book would be overdue anyway. It would be interesting to see if there was another way to do an alert system set up with your (or everyone’s) MyLibrary account…

  6. Paul

    8/2/2011 at 8:32 am

    As I posted just above, I have gone Postal via myLIbrary. Took me a bit to discover this option, but once I did it all seemed clear and even obvious.
    I’d love for the UNC Directory to offer more options for communications contacts. My students largely avoid email — and as you see in articles below, this is a national if not international trend.

  7. Assuming that you have a mobile phone from one of the major providers, then you should be able to use their email to SMS interface to get notifications by text message. Switch back to email notifications and enter your email address in the form shown on the page I’ve linked to. For example, if you provider is Verizon you’d enter When an email goes to that address the provider converts it to a text and sends it to the phone.

  8. Paul

    12/6/2011 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks for the useful, to some people, advice on alerts. I posted this part by way of humor, part by way of confession, and part as a way to chronicle the stumbles I’ve taken doing #noemail. I prolly won’t be changing email to txt any time soon tho

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