Tips for ILI-L Administrator

Table of Contents:

Background Information:

Position Description of ILI-L Administrator

Distributing Messages

Message Distribution – How It Works:

  • Subscribers send messages to  These messages are queued pending approval for distribution.
  • Effective August 8, 2016, we ask that you tag your message in the subject line with one of the following tags. This should ensure that list members can quickly choose which messages to read. How to tag your messages:
    Use the following tags in all caps followed by your subject description.

    • CALL (Call for presenters and authors)
    • DESIGN (practical application of teaching information literacy)
    • SoTL (Scholarship of teaching and learning)
    • EDUC (workshops, webinars, conferences, etc.)
    • JOBOP (Job opportunities)
    • RESOURCES (books, journals, databases, videos, etc.)
    • S/F (Standards/Framework)
    • MISC (miscellaneous.)
    • SUMMARY (summary of posts to the list)
    • ADMIN (used by the list admin)
  • As Administrator, you will receive an email notice of each queued message. These emails contain links for viewing and approving messages, but there’s an easier way — so feel free to delete these notification messages as they arrive.
  • To view all messages queued for distribution:
    • Log in to the site:
    • On the left side of the screen, under Moderate, click on “Message.” You will now see a list of queued messages.
    • Click a message subject to view its content.
  • Approval / rejection decision:
    • Most messages get approved for distribution.
    • Common reasons for rejection:
      • Message is not on topic for information literacy instruction (ILI). It is not necessary to be very strict: messages that tangentially relate to ILI are usually acceptable, and generate no complaints from list subscribers. Off-topic messages that should be rejected (even when sent by frequent ILI-L contributors) include:
        • Job postings for positions that do not involve performing or coordinating ILI, or managing those who do.
        • Conferences, seminars or events unrelated to ILI.
        • Information or questions about general library services or other issues not connected with ILI.
      • Message is spam.
      • Message is intended only for a particular individual and not for the entire list (such as “thank you” messages).
      • Message contains no significant content of its own (such as “I agree” messages).
      • Automated “out of office” replies.
      • Message includes an entire digest in its response (as well as having an unhelpful digest subject line).
      • Duplicate messages.
      • Message constitutes political speech – see Prohibition on Political Messages.
  • To approve a message, click the Distribute button above the message.
  • To reject a message, do one of these two things:
    • Click Reject to delete the message without notifying the sender. This is useful for spam or for “out of office” automated replies.
    • Click Notified Reject to delete the message and send the poster an “ editor rejection message,” a canned reply offering possible reasons why it was rejected.
  • You may follow your own schedule for approving messages to go out, as long as you send them out at least once per weekday. I find it easiest to distribute messages twice each day: once in the morning, and once at the end of the afternoon.
  • Non-subscribers may submit messages by using the ILI-L web form. You will receive a notification when such a message is submitted. If the message is legitimate and on-topic, post it by following these steps:
    • In the subject line of the message, paste in the subject that the person entered on the form.
    • If your e-mail client allows it, you may want to change the Reply To address to that of the poster, so you don’t inadvertently receive direct replies.
    • Place the following note at the top of the message body, substituting the poster’s name and email address: “Note: posted by ILI-L Administrator on behalf of <name>, <email>.”
    • Paste the poster’s message below the note, and send.

Coverage in ILI-L Administrator’s Absence

If the ILI-L Administrator will be away and unable to distribute messages for more than two days, s/he should designate someone to temporarily take over message distribution. Ideally, this should be someone who is familiar with ILI-L. Possible choices include former ILI-L Administrators or members of the Instruction Section Communication Committee. Otherwise, designate a colleague, preferably someone who is familiar with ILI-L and who can easily pick up on the basics of message distribution.

Once a temporary administrator is selected, provide the individual’s name and e-mail address to the list owner (the individual whose name appears along with the Administrator’s name on the ILI-L website). Indicate the date range during which the temporary administrator should be given access. Please also ensure that the temporary administrator is currently subscribed to ILI-L!

The ILI-L Administrator is responsible for training the temporary administrator to perform distribution of messages. The temporary administrator can defer subscriber problems and troubleshooting until the Administrator’s return, or if it cannot wait, refer them to the list owner.

It is recommended to send a brief announcement to subscribers introducing the temporary administrator and giving the ILI-L Administrator’s expected return date.

Prohibition on Political Messages

ALA Statement on Political Speech:

“ALA, because of its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, is expressly and absolutely prohibited by the U.S. Internal Revenue Code from engaging in “political speech.” This means that ALA resources, including electronic discussion lists, blogs and wikis, cannot be used for “the support of, or opposition to, a candidate for public office.” Political speech is different from “lobbying,” which seeks to influence legislation or regulation (ALA continues to lobby aggressively for libraries within federal guidelines).

“The consequence of violating this legal prohibition is the revocation of tax exempt status. No warnings are required, and the IRS has repeatedly revoked the 501(c)(3) status of organizations considered in violation of these regulations. The absolute prohibition on political speech by associations like ALA is serious – and the “zero tolerance” enforcement policy of the IRS has been upheld by the courts, including the Supreme Court. We – ALA officers, staff and members – are required to comply with these laws until such time as Congress changes them. In doing so, we protect the interests of the Association and its members – present and future – and preserve ALA’s ability to advocate aggressively on behalf of libraries and the public. Simply put, the loss of our 501(c)(3) status would have a catastrophic impact on the Association.

“For more information about the IRS prohibition on political speech by 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations, as well as links to additional information, please see the Marginalia blog posting at

“Notwithstanding this prohibition, many ALA members have expressed an interest in discussing … election[s] and … candidates in relation to library issues. While this discussion cannot legally occur within the ALA 501(c)(3) structure, the 501(c)(6) ALA-Allied Professional Association does open up new opportunities for such discussions. As a 501(c)(6), operating under different IRS rules, ALA-APA can legally provide a forum for such discussions.

“To this end, the ALA-APA Board has authorized the creation of an ALA-APA Forum discussion list to discuss mutual issues of interest to librarians and other library workers, including political issues and candidates. This list is open to ALA members and others. To subscribe to the APA Forum, go to:”

Common Listserv Problems and Possible Solutions

  • PROBLEM: Someone sends a message to instead of to the list address. As Administrator, these messages go directly to you and won’t be posted to the list.
  • SOLUTION: Reply to the sender and ask them to send again, this time to
  • PROBLEM: Someone accidentally sends a personal/individual reply to the entire list.
  • SOLUTION:  Don’t distribute the message. Use the Notified Reject option, as this will inform the sender that his or her message did not go through. The sender may then redirect the message as intended.
  • PROBLEM: Someone is trying to subscribe, but writes to report that they are unable or don’t know how.
  • SOLUTION: Send the person a link to the ILI-L web page and tell them to click the Subscribe link and try once again. If they report a second failure, your response will depend on the problem they report: either they need to be walked through the steps, or you may need to report a technical problem to the list owner.
  • PROBLEM: Someone reports that they are a subscriber, but that their posts are being rejected with an automated message that says: “Authorization denied. Message distribution in the list is restricted to list subscribers.”
  • SOLUTION: Usually, this means that the person’s “From” email address isn’t an exact match to their subscription address. Email addresses are not case sensitive, but any other minor variation will cause the system to think they are not a subscriber. To fix this:
    • From the ILI-L site, click Admin, and then Manage Subscribers.
    • Use the search box to find the person’s subscription (you can use a portion of their email address to try and find a match). If you cannot locate the person’s subscription, ask them if they may have an old email address that is forwarding to their current one.
    • If you find them in the subscriber list, but the email address doesn’t match the “From” address on their message to you, send them an email explaining the situation and asking them permission to change their subscription address to match their “From” address.
    • If the subscriber approves the change, click on their email address on the Manage Subscribers page. Now you may enter their corrected address and click the Update button.


There is generally no action required for archives maintenance, as messages are automatically added to the archive when they are approved for distribution. You have the ability to delete messages from the archive, but this should only be done if spam is accidentally sent through. You may be asked to participate with other committee members in planning improvements and changes to the archiving process.

Regular Tasks

  • Tip Sheet: The Communication Committee should update this Tip Sheet as necessary on an annual basis. The updates are to be submitted to, and approved by, the Instruction Section Executive Committee before posting.
  • Annual Report: The IS Executive Committee asks that the ILI-L Admin submit a brief (1-3 page) report for their midwinter and annual meetings. The report below can be used as a template, but modify it as you see fit: June 2012 Report (pdf).
  • New School Year Message: Once a year, generally in the second week of September, send out a “new school year” message to the list. It serves as a welcome to new members and a reminder of listserv policies and procedures. Following is the message that went out in 2008, which you can use as a template: New School Year Message (pdf).

Sample Standard List Texts/Messages

These messages go out to subscribers on an automated basis, and can be customized on the ILI-L website using the Admin menu. Following are the messages as they exist at the time of this writing (July, 2014).

Prepared by the Communication Committee 2008-2010.