Once upon a time, there was a girl who had a Blackberry for work. She thought it was so cool to use it to check her work email when she was on the train early in the morning. In the end, she pretty much used it only for the game which was loaded on there, as as this was 2004, the data connectivity and web browsing capabilities of the Blackberry pretty much sucked. And as she had her own mobile, which she used that for doing things, like making phone calls and texting people, she returned the Blackberry when she went on maternity leave. When she returned she didn’t get it back, but it didn’t really faze her. She hadn’t missed the constant contact and being part time, she didn’t really want it.
Then she got a real smartphone (sorry BlackBerry peeps, but the HTC Desire was heaps better). By then, the phones’ browsing capabilities were much better, with larger screens and faster networks. She could access her personal Gmail and Hotmail accounts easily with apps or the mobile versions of the sites. Her workplace email was another matter. There was a web-based version that she could access from home, but did she really want to be constantly switched on with mobile access? There was an app which could access the system, but this required server access, IT permissions, all issues surrounding Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) to work. The additional requests for IT access to her phone if she were to leave the organisation to scrub it as a security measure was the deciding factor. In the end, she decided, the workplace email could be checked at work- she was busy enough as it was, using her mobile for everything else…
Well that’s my personal story of my mobile email use. Working in a special library, with users who are very connected to their mobiles, it is quite a different story.
There is also a growing desire for users to use tablets, both iPads and Android devices, to save on touting about paper and accessing vital information easily. For the library this raises issues about the types of email conversations we send to our users, as well as the type of content we deliver via mobile to them.
Emails are sent regularly to users on new library content and papers the library has produced. They can also sign up for email alerts to news databases, which are provided by an external vendor.
The growing issue though is of connectivity to the intranet. Intranet access is already provided on work-supplied laptops, but what are the implications for devices who are owned by our users? As much of the content the library provides is on the intranet, limiting access on mobile devices to the internet could potential cut library usage. I fully understand the need to limit access to network with sensitive information (particularly on devices which are not owned by the parent organisation, and which may not have the appropriate security measures), BUT if you are cutting off access to your key users, how is that going to help them do their job?
Anyhoo, these are my top tips for sending emails in a special library setting
1. If you are sending information requests via email- keep your replies succinct and to the point, and waffle-free.
2. Avoid sending huge attachments, unless specifically requested.
3. If you are linking to something in your email, please think about access- is it an internal link and if so can they access it on their mobile?
4. If you are sending out alerts, make sure it is an opt-in service, and you are not spamming people. Also schedule alerts so your users are not being overwhelmed on what could be busy days for them and your email gets lost in the stream.