Tracking information and tracing your steps

There was conversation on the ERIL listserv recently about tracking workflows, and storing and sharing information. Pat noted how easy it is to store emails instead of copying the information into another tool, although the downside is that email folders aren’t shareable.

I’m considering saving my emails (save as .eml) to a folder on our library’s shared drive, but I haven’t decided how to organize it: a folder for each letter of the alphabet; formatting the file name to specify date and topic; a search method. I don’t want to proceed without thinking it through, and I also have to consider the possibility that an ERM (when we get one) could handle that kind of archiving. For now I’m keeping everything in my own email folders, and learning the hard way that I should be careful what I delete.

In an earlier attempt at organizing my email folders, I started using the “thread” feature. I tend to keep the most recent email and delete previous messages, unless the later messages don’t include portions of the conversation.

Unfortunately, EBSCO is no longer including quoted, earlier messages in the body of their replies. Even some signatures are being cut off, so I don’t know who has responded to me. This started in early May. According to a rep:

We have recently made an update to our tracking system that causes the previous messages to not be sent out. I have passed your comments on to my administrator, as we are currently seeking feedback on this change.

(He also said they’d look into the signature problem right away.)

I told him I’d like to see the quoted messages return. Although they can get quite lengthy, it’s immensely helpful to have a history of the conversation. I was a little over-zealous with deleting earlier messages, and now I have a follow up from EBSCO about a question I asked… and I don’t remember why I asked it. I don’t even recognize the title.

In that ERIL message, Pat also mentioned that she’s careful about what she deletes. I definitely need to be more selective than I am. Even after a problem is resolved, I should keep the most important correspondence; when it comes up again, I’ve regretted not keeping those earlier messages.


4 Responses to “Tracking information and tracing your steps”

  1. Patricia Thompson Says:

    Wow, this is the first time I’ve ever been quoted on a blog!

    Actually, I’m so glad I asked that question on the ERL list, because enough people agreed with me that I wasn’t crazy and they saved emails too, that it sort of validated me. I was beginning to think I was being obsessive or something!

    As for how I’m solving the problem, well… I haven’t yet. But I have experimented with a number of possible solutions. I found a way to share the contents of all my e-resource mailboxes within the email application that we use (Eudora,) but it’s a static file, not updated. But this may help them to get me caught up on populating the ERM with data. I have been told that we are going to get Oracle’s Collaboration Suite soon, and I’m sort of holding out for that, because we can share folders. Eventually I want to move to a shared email account that we can all have access to, but that will require changing the contact information with every vendor, and also would not make sense to do immediately since we have not worked out a shared approach yet anyway.

  2. Toni Says:

    I was very excited to see your post, Pat, and read the replies. It is refreshing to be reminded that there are others considering the same paths and experiencing the same uncertainties.

    I, too, want to explore the idea of using a single email account for our correspondence with vendors and publishers. I’m going to the NASIG conference next week, and I anticipate that it will be one of the ideas in the “ERM on a shoestring” talk. I’m looking forward to hearing more ideas and connecting with other people. It’s nice to have validation and support, whether online or in person.

  3. Jennifer Watson Says:

    Glad to see people talking about “ERM on a Shoestring” on this blog, and also about e-mail as an e-resource management tool in general.

    I keep all my e-mail relating to e-resources. I’ve been at my current library for almost 4 years so I have almost 4 years of data. As we have quotas on our e-mail server, I keep most of this information stored on my workstation, and back it up periodically to another workstation or a library server. However, if for some reason I left my library, my account would be deleted and all of that information would be lost.

    We have two systems in place now to deal with this. (1) We have a departmental e-mail that can be accessed by everyone in the department. As it’s not tied to an individual, it won’t be deleted when someone leaves. (2) I’m starting to paste important e-mail correspondence into a Blackboard “course” I’ve set up to manage the processing of our licenses and invoices. I have a folder for each subscription and in each folder I store relevant documents, notes, and pasted e-mail messages.

    It’s interesting that EBSCO not longer sees the need to include earlier messages in their responses. I agree that the more information one has to hand the better.

  4. Toni Says:

    Jennifer, I enjoyed your presentation yesterday [at NASIG] and seeing exactly how you use Blackboard. I appreciated your point about the instability of storing information in that system, since the university can suddenly decide to discontinue Blackboard.
    I thought about this again today when I realized that our current location for storing notes and important correspondence (like Dalene at Emporia, we use EBSCO’S Registration Tracker) may not be stable either: if we cancel a title, won’t EBSCO remove the record from the Registration Tracker? This is something I need to ask about. My concern is that our Registration Tracker notes would be useful if we consider re-subscribing in the future. Also, a new order would bring a new, blank record. Again, I need to clarify this with EBSCO. I see a usefulness in keeping a history for past subscriptions as well as current; as Pat said, we have to be careful about what we delete.

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