The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Why Librarians must go #noemail

Hard on the heels of today’s GetSatisfaction post, Daniel Beaver-Seitz alerts me to this graphic based on a week in the life of librarian Janie Hermann from 365 Sketches and revisioned by as part of a larger graphic of a Librarian’s Worth. Working some of the math for you: Janie works 2,785 minutes in this week or 46.4+ hours of which 800 minutes or 28.7+% of her time is spent on email. According the 356Sketches, Janie received 73 (I assume post-spam-filter) emails and sent 182 emails during this week.

A Librarian's Week - via

A Librarian's Week - via


  1. I won’t start ranting again, but why isn’t this an example of meeting patrons where they need us? And, ya know, communicating with one’s academic/business infrastructure? Sigh. I must just be dumb.

  2. Paul

    7/22/2011 at 1:47 pm

    Jeff Pomerantz and others have been working with live chat reference and found that patrons do find that not only acceptable but that they give the more interactive form of communications a higher rating than async.
    Businesses using services or software like GetSatisfaction see similar results.
    The idea behind #noemail is to look at smarter, more flexible and more satisfying alternatives to email rather than to continue to keeping cracking our collective skulls into the email wall.

    Peace, love and better communication interactions,

    BTW on this post, let me underscore again that this chart represents only a single particular librarian during a single week. It is amusing bur not generalizable to librarians — even in the same library.

  3. Interesting about chat: I’ve seen almost no buy-in at two University libraries. Patrons almost never chat with us. I guess my disconnect is just the “skull-cracking” bit. I’ve never felt that way about email, personally, but I very well might be weird. What is so distasteful about email? It’s just an (asynchronous, yes, which has a very important place) tool. Oh well. Don’t feel like you have to reply, I’ll stop being lazy and go through your references one of these days.

    Truly, best wishes,

  4. Also, one last nitpick: I have seen, over and over, “synchronous” tools eating far more time from my staff than email ever did. Crumb, I’ve started again, haven’t I? I’ll be quiet, now.

  5. I’m with Shane. I don’t get it. How can having a librarian sitting at a computer waiting for someone to come on line and chat be more effective and efficient than email? Here again it wouldn’t seem to matter how the questions arrives it will take the same amount of time and effort to answer it. Unless the belief is that people will take the time to search an FAQ, wiki, or something similar, to find the answer themselves. I don’t believe they will. My evidence for that is Twitter. Go to, a site that seeks to help people get answers to questions they ask on Twitter, and look at the questions. My guess is that somewhere around 90% of the serious ones could be answered by the person asking the question if they’d just do a search on Google. Despite the plethora of tools available for them to help themselves they’re too lazy and would prefer a person answer their question.

  6. Paul

    12/6/2011 at 3:53 pm

    You only need one answer: Let Me Google That For You

  7. LOL. I’ll have to remember that link.

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