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Friday Finds

Finding Our Community

Wyverstone Community Cafe” by Oatsy40, modified by Kenneth Simon.
Licensed under CC BY 2.0

In 2021, ALA discontinued use of the Sympa platform for listservs. Subscribers were encouraged to come over to ALA Connect and keep the conversation going. At least in the case of CJCLS, the conversation hasn’t really kept going. What happened?

The CJCLS Communications Committee sent out a survey to its members last week to find out just what is happening. The answers point to some common themes.

If you want to jump right to the heart of the matter, visit our new CJCLS Community FAQ which addresses the most common barriers to joining and participating.

Now, to the results!

The survey was emailed to 1,574 CJCLS members and was also posted to the CJCLS Community on ALA Connect. To date, 14% of email invitees have responded, and an additional 30 people have responded from the post in the Community.

Member or not?

Oddly enough, nearly 13% of respondents did not know if they are CJCLS members. Even stranger, 23% of people who answered from the link emailed to the current CJCLS membership list said they are not CJCLS members. Perhaps this reflects some attrition, but it may also speak to some confusion about ALA’s structure of divisions and sections.

Most respondents (81%) used to be subscribers to the CJCLS-L listserv. Of those respondents, 60% say they used to participate by posting new topics or replies to the listserv.

Now, we get to the CJCLS Community on ALA Connect – the forum that was intended to replace the listserv. 71% of respondents said they are CJCLS Community members, 9% are not, and that leaves a mysterious 20% who do not know if they are members. This is a sign of confusion about the ALA Connect Communities, what they are, and how they function. Along the same lines, 20% of those who said they’re not members of the CJCLS Community on ALA Connect indicated that they want to learn more before they decide whether to join.

How Do I Use This Thing?

Only 51% of respondents who identify as members of the CJCLS Community on ALA Connect say they know how to post/reply. 22% of respondents say they don’t know how, but that they want to learn. This is a great opportunity.

What Do We Do About It?

We asked respondents to “describe any reasons or barriers that have discouraged you from participating in the CJCLS Community on ALA Connect.” 119 of the 203 survey respondents described barriers. Frequent reasons cited:

  • ALA Connect seen as confusing / unintuitive / inconvenient to use (26)
  • Having to log into the ALA Connect website to read and/or post (50)

Other common responses:

  • Time / too overwhelmed to learn to use something new
  • Belief that one must be an ALA member to join/participate
  • Nothing interesting to reply to / lack of community
  • Dislike of the Daily Digest format, particularly:
    • long subject line that obscures the identity of the digest email
    • having to log into ALA Connect to read/reply to messages

Especially in these times, dealing with change can be overwhelming. It’s easy to set aside the task of learning to navigate a site that feels unintuitive. To rebuild the community, we need to communicate that:

  • Yes, you can receive posts via email, reply to them via email, and initiate new topics via email.
  • Once you set it up the way you want it, you don’t have to log into ALA Connect again.
  • You do not have to be a member of ALA to join or participate in the Community.

What about an easy-to-find, clearly worded FAQ that puts you in the right place to sign up, steps you through a one-time setup process, and leaves you ready to receive and make posts right from your email, just like the old listserv?

With that in mind, introducing the CJCLS Community on ALA Connect FAQ

Questions? Comments? Does the FAQ need to cover something more? Leave a reply and let us know. And, if you want any support with using ALA Connect, use this contact form to get in touch.


Want to join the conversation? See How to Use ALA Connect Like a Listserv.

Still need to join our community in ALA Connect? If you’re not an ALA member, create a free login. With your ALA login, you can go directly to our community page and click the big blue JOIN COMMUNITY button up top.

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