I don’t know about you, but I send out a lot of email. I email staff, I email colleagues in other libraries, I email our patrons, and I handle Ask a Librarian questions. One thing always goes out along with those emails… my email signature.
Your email signature says a lot about you and what you do. Yet we have this habit of just throwing some basic info there and letting it go for months, if not years.
Me, I’m one of those weird librarians who has absolutely no problem with customers emailing me directly. Indeed, I prefer that. I’m rarely at my desk and I’m never at my desk at the same time every day. You want to get in touch with me, you use email. I’ve got a Android phone and that phone connects to my library’s mail server. Whenever I get an email, a special tone set up specifically for work email goes off. I know about new email mere seconds after it arrives.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about that email signature and how you can make that work for you with just a little effort and some planning. See, I wear a lot of hats. I’m a branch circulation supervisor. I’m also the interlibrary loans coordinator for the library system. Along with that, I’m a geek and thus help out with eReader and downloadable content questions. I want people to know that. I want them to ask me questions related to those things because, quite frankly, that’s what I do.
So, here’s my email signature. Take a look and then we’ll examine it and the whole philosophy behind it-
Daniel Messer – Queen Creek Branch Library
Interlibrary Loans Coordinator
Digital Downloads Committee
Do you have a question? Reply to this email or visit:
As a kid, the library saved my life. ~John Waters
Okay, quickly I want to start with what you don’t see. You don’t see my email address there do you? I never understood why one should include their email address in their email signature. Did you get an email from me? Then you have my email address, don’t you? Including the address in the signature just seems like unnecessary redundancy.
Also, you don’t see my phone number. That’s not an accident and I didn’t take it out for this blog post. I just said that trying to call my work phone is an exercise in tele-pandemonium and that I’ve played phone tag for days with people over the littlest things. It’s very simple. If you want to reach me, email me. I receive email immediately and, thanks to my phone, I know about it seconds after it comes in. If it’s something I can handle through a quick message from my phone, I’ll do it now.
So, first up. There’s my name, and where I am. Obviously, my name lets people know who I am. The location is important because I answer questions for customers all over the county since I help folks with eReader problems and interlibrary loan requests. I want them to know that I’m at a specific branch so they don’t trundle on down the road to their local library expecting to find me there. (Unless, of course, they live in the Queen Creek area.)
After that, there’s a link to my About.me profile. Sometimes, people want to know something about who they’re talking to on the other end of the Internet. At the very least, they can see that I’m human, that I’m a professional (at least in some small way) and that I’m active online.
Then there are all the things that I do. I’m not much for titles, but I am big on letting people know what I do. That way, they know they can ask me stuff about those things. So, as you can see, I’m a Circulation Supervisor, Interlibrary Loans Coordinator, and that I’m on the Digital Downloads Committee. Hopefully, that tells the person on the other side that I can help them with any of that stuff. Library account problems? I can help. Want to request something from another library system? Sure, I can do that for you. Got a question about downloading stuff from the library? Like Leonard Cohen, I’m your man.
Now, here’s the deal. I want customers and librarians to email me about that stuff. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what I’m getting paid for! So why beat around the bush, fiddle around with a general email to a general address when I can help you now? In other words, I’m trying to make it easier for people to use my skills.
And, just in case they don’t get the little hint, that’s where the words “Do you have a question? Reply to this email or visit:” come in. My job is answering questions, finding information, and helping people do things with their eReaders. Besides, I want people to contact me with those questions and, like I said earlier, email is easiest and quickest way to reach me. And, if they don’t feel like emailing me directly, they can drop a line to the library’s Ask a Librarian site which is linked directly below.
In essence this does two things. Maybe they don’t like my response and want to try someone else. Heck, maybe I pissed them off and they want to complain. That gives them a way to do just that. Secondly, they can look at those silly titles and see that I’m probably not the person they want to ask about, say, library finances or opportunities in human resources. So in the end, I’m giving them a second way to contact someone to ask their questions and have those questions directed to the right people.
Finally, there’s a little quote there from John Waters. It serves no purpose other than it’s a spiffy quote from John Waters who happens to be incredibly awesome. At the very least, maybe the person on the other side of the email will have a chuckle.
Have you looked at your email signature recently? What’s it say about you and your job?