An Email Discussion List for Medical Librarians

The MEDLIB-L email discussion list is sponsored by MLA and generously hosted by the University of Vermont. It is a public list (i.e., indexed by Google) and provides a forum for MLA members and other health sciences information professionals to discuss important professional issues.

MLA’s volunteer MEDLIB-L Coordinator handles education and policy issues for the list, which includes posting instructional messages, helping subscribers make best use of the medium, and responding to questions about what is appropriate to post.

Read the MEDLIB-L guidelines below before you subscribe and post to the list.

Subscribe to MEDLIB-L

  • Subscribing to MEDLIB-L means you agree to follow the MEDLIB-L guidelines, so please read them!
  • To subscribe to the list, send an email message to LISTSERV@LIST.UVM.EDU. Leave the subject field of the email blank, and in the body of the message type, “subscribe medlib-l Firstname Lastname”. You may also subscribe via a Web interface.
  • After subscribing, you will receive a welcome message with useful list commands and information on how to send messages to the list. If you have a question about subscribing, send an email message with the words “MEDLIB-L Listserv” in the subject line to the List Administrator, or call MLA headquarters at 312.419.9094, x12.

Guidelines for Messages

  1. Only subscribers to MEDLIB-L can post messages.
    To post a message to all the current MEDLIB-L subscribers, use the address: MEDLIB-L@LIST.UVM.EDU (uppercase letters not required).
  2. List behavior:
    Members of MEDLIB-L are expected to behave as professionals. Do not post defamatory, abusive, profane, threatening, offensive, or illegal material. Remember: 2,100 of your colleagues are associating your post with your name, and the archives are public and searchable by search engines or any individual.

    MEDLIB-L is not a private or moderated list. Posts to MEDLIB-L are not reviewed or censored before they appear. This means that some errors or inappropriate posts will occasionally appear on the list and some people will make mistakes. Be mindful that the range of experience of MEDLIB-L subscribers varies widely; when help is requested do not judge the poster by your own standards. If you do not have help to offer, delete the message rather than providing personal opinions or assessments of an individual’s knowledge. Do not publicly chastise people who make mistakes. MEDLIB-L is for human beings. Perfect people are not permitted to subscribe to MEDLIB-L. MLA accepts no responsibility for the opinions and information posted by users.

    Removal from MEDLIB-L: MLA reserves the right to moderate or cancel the subscription of any user who does not abide by these guidelines. Moderation or cancellation is at the discretion of the MEDLIB-L Coordinator in consultation with other list members and headquarters staff.
  3. Keep postings within the scope of the list.
    MEDLIB-L should be used for messages of PROFESSIONAL interest to health sciences and/or medical librarians and information professionals. If your message is outside of the field of medical librarianship, it probably doesn’t belong on MEDLIB-L. MEDLIB-L is NOT:
    1. for questions from the general public or medical personnel.
      MEDLIB-L is not a place for the general public, healthcare professionals. or students to ask reference questions, request assistance with library research or medical problems, or request materials. These questions should be directed to a local medical library or one of the newsgroups.
    2. for advertisements.
      MEDLIB-L does not accept advertisements, product announcements, or self-promotional posts from either individuals or publishers or producers of print products, software, web pages, etc.

      Posts to MEDLIB-L about these items, in response to specific questions and/or discussions initiated by MEDLIB-L subscribers about products, websites and services are appropriate, in order to provide an avenue to receive recommendations, suggestions, and help from colleagues on this list.
    3. for general or medical conference announcements.
      MEDLIB-L should not be used for announcements of conferences outside the field (or likely interest) of medical librarians/information professionals. Do not send announcements for conferences in medicine or nursing.
    4. for posting “job wanted” messages.
      If you are seeking a job in a medical library, it is not appropriate to send a “Position Wanted” posting to MEDLIB-L.
    5. for posting jobs for medical personnel.
      However, announcements of available medical library jobs are welcome. Please keep job announcements brief and list an email address or Website for further information. You must include a minimum salary or salary range in your announcement. In the subject line of the position description, use the format: JOB POSTING – POSITION TITLE, GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION
    6. for posting duplicates or want lists.
      Do not post lists of duplicate or discarded materials or want lists on MEDLIB-L. These may be posted to MLA’s backmed-exchange List. For information about backmed-exchange, visit the list information page.
    7. for general advocacy postings.
      Postings aimed at collecting mass or organized support for political or social causes are not appropriate for MEDLIB-L.
    8. for virus, worm, or hoax warnings.
      Send these to the Coordinator, who will verify the information and post a warning message to the list, if appropriate. Do not forward general warnings, rumors, or similar posts to MEDLIB-L.
  4. Use restraint with frivolous posts or messages to “entertain”. There are many newsgroups and discussion groups intended specifically for humor, religion, or politics. Keep in mind that your message will be sent to more than 2,100 subscribers in 51 countries, and respect should be paid to people with different cultural backgrounds.
  5. Do not include attachments or “vcf” signature cards.
    All attachments will be rejected automatically.
  6. Send your message in (ASCII) plain text only.
    Do not post using HTML, rich text (rtf), or other encoded formats to MEDLIB-L.
  7. Always use a descriptive subject line.
    The more descriptive you are, the more likely the right people will read your posting. Use these formats for subject lines of your post:
    1. Reference questions: precede your subject with “Ref Q:” or “?” For reference queries, MEDLIB-L should be used as the avenue of LAST RESORT. Please exhaust all of your local resources, including the phone, before turning to MEDLIB-L. When you send a reference query, INDICATE THE SOURCES YOU HAVE ALREADY CONSULTED so your generous and kind colleagues will not duplicate your efforts.
    2. Answers: precede the subject with an exclamation point: “!
    3. ILL requests : precede the title you need with “ILL: “; do not make multiple ILL requests in a single message unless from same source title. ILL REQUESTS should be confined to emergencies, or to titles unavailable through regular interlibrary loan networks. Please observe all copyright regulations when requesting loans.  See: Medical Library Association: Copyright Law and Fair Use Position Statement
    4. Citation verifications: precede your subject with “VERIF:
    6. Messages to entertain:  Think twice about posting; then precede your subject with  “CHAT:
    7. Thank you messages: precede subject with “THANKS.” NOTE: Send thanks to individuals, not the whole list, unless informational to halt others from continuing to fill a request.
  8. Always give your postings a full signature.
    Include your name, email, address, title, and institutional affiliation. Try to limit your signature to four lines. NOTE: Place this signature within the body of your MEDLIB-L message. Automatic signature files do not display for many MEDLIB-L readers, and some email programs will strip the headers from your post.
  9. Be brief:
    Keep paragraphs and messages short and to the point
    . This is a high-volume list.
    Don’t embed the contents of long documents to the list . Describe the document and give instructions for retrieving it, or offer to send it to those interested. For conference announcements and job postings, send a brief message with an email address or website for further information.
  10. READ all the incoming mail from the list before responding.
    Someone may have already sent a reply similar to yours. If you receive the digest version of the list, review messages on the MEDLIB-L archives pages first.
  11. Replies:
    When replying to a MEDLIB-L message, if the original subject line is misleading, retype an appropriate subject. If you are initiating a new topic, do not use the reply feature. Type a new subject line, create a new message, and send to the list.

    Do not include the entire previous message. Extract only those brief portions of the previous message that are necessary to identify the issue and make your point. Do not include the mail headers from the previous message in the body of your message (this is the part that includes “Sender,” “From,” etc.).

    SUMMARIZE: People who post to the list to ask for assistance are expected to post a SUMMARY of the responses they receive. When posting a summary, please include only the gist of the answers you received, instead of providing the full quotes. Recap, don’t replicate.

    Send personal replies to the individual, not to the whole list. MEDLIB-L is configured so that when you use your “Reply To” email program feature, replies are sent to the individual, not the entire list.

    Examples of messages that should be sent back as personal replies:
  1. Requests for COPIES of offered materials.
  2. PERSONAL or CHATTY replies.
  3. Answers to very specific reference questions.
  4. Survey responses.
  5. “I can supply” responses.
  6. Messages consisting of “ME TOO” or any synonym thereof.
  7. THANK YOU messages unless they are informational to halt other list members from continuing to fill a request.
  1. Copyright:
    All messages that appear on MEDLIB-L are the property of the posting authors. Messages appearing on MEDLIB-L may be forwarded to other lists or individuals ONLY WITH PERMISSION of the author of the post. Do not post any materials to MEDLIB-L that are protected by copyright without first obtaining permission of the copyright owner.
  2. MLA accepts no responsibility for the opinions and information posted by users. MLA reserves the right to terminate access to MEDLIB-L and cancel the subscription of any user who does not abide by these guidelines.

Approved September 2008 

MEDLIB-L Listserv Commands

To subscribe, visit the subscription Web interface. To revise your subscription options or change any of your account settings on the Web, visit the MEDLIB-L subscriber Web interface, get a Listserv password, and revise your account. You can also set your options via email. The correct email address to use for commands is the LISTSERV address: LISTSERV@LIST.UVM.EDU.

The following are the most frequently used listserv commands for MEDLIB-L: Commands that must be entered exactly as shown below are in ALL CAPS. Information that you must add to the command is shown in lower case. Leave the subject header blank and do NOT add any extraneous text to your commands.

  1. Joining or leaving the list:
    • To subscribe: SUBSCRIBE MEDLIB-L your first name your last name
    • To unsubscribe: UNSUBSCRIBE MEDLIB-L
  2. Turn off your mail for short periods such as when you go on vacation.
    • To set nomail: SET MEDLIB-L NOMAIL
    • To resume receiving mail: SET MEDLIB-L MAIL
  3. To reduce your email load, set your MEDLIB-L subscription to DIGEST, which provides one cumulative posting per 24-hour period.
    • To set digest: SET MEDLIB-L DIGEST
    • To remove digest option: SET MEDLIB-L NODIGEST

  4. QUERY: Useful to confirm your address and subscription settings. For example, it is common for your Internet address to change with (or without) your knowing it. Even a slight change can prevent your use of the Listserv commands. Query will let you know if your address has changed from your original subscription to MEDLIB-L.
    • To query your address: QUERY MEDLIB-L your name
    • To query your subscription: QUERY MEDLIB-L 

MEDLIB-L Archives

Contributions sent to MEDLIB-L are automatically archived at the University of Vermont. You can search the MEDLIB-L archives via the Web interface.

Help with Your MEDLIB-L Subscription

MEDLIB-L subscribers who have technical or subscription questions should contact Kate Corcoran.