Associates - Special Announcement - February 22, 2005

Subscription Disaster Hits Associates Subscribers' Lists


Wendee Eyler, Editor
Associates: The Electronic Library Support Staff Journal

Associates had over 3,600 subscribers for the November 2004 issue. Associates had zero subscribers two months later.

Fortunately, this disaster did not impact the Associates web pages.

On January 17, 2005, the University of California, Riverside's (UCR) e-mail list machine suffered a catastrophic disk failure. Campus Computing made every attempt to recover the data from the failed disk, including sending it to a data recovery company which specializes in rebuilding failed disks and reconstructing data on them. In the end the disk was not repairable and the data was not recoverable. Twenty of the existing 200 campus subscriber lists were partially reinstated by combing through email log files. The two Associates lists were not recovered.

Campus Computing was in the process of moving to new "Mailman" email list software at the time of the disk failure and was able to configure and install the new software in fairly short order for the 20 surviving listservs.

On Friday, February 11, I was notified via email that both listservs holding all Associates subscribers were unrecoverable and to "rest assured that we have taken every step to ensure that this does not happen again." I could not believe something this catastrophic would occur with 21st century technology. I had relied on the campus to safely preserve the Associates subscribers' lists and had no current backups of the subscribers. You can be assured that I have taken every step to ensure this does not happen again, so that when/if a similar calamity strikes again, the results will not be so devastating to Associates.

Actually, I suspected something was "fishy" in the weeks leading up to the email notification on February 11. Many people wrote to me saying they could not subscribe or unsubscribe. I could not access the listserv accounts, either. I knew about the "seamless and you-won't-even-know-it-happened" switchover to new email list software and I thought this was the reason why I could not access the lists. But, there was plenty of time before the March 2005 publication date and I was not too concerned.

The worst imaginable disaster for Associates occurred. Now what?

First, the new listservs had to be set up to accept subscribers. Mailman email list software was designed for the typical listserv, that is, one where email postings are fairly active and subscribers respond to and interact on the list, such as LIBSUP-L, AUTOCAT, etc. The Associates lists are only used 3 times per year, only send out, and do not allow responses to the list or interaction among the subscribers. I was not able to fully customize the "pre-packaged" subscribe and unsubscribe information that is sent to subscribers and am not satisfied with the results. Such things as passwords, digest settings, language, etc. do not apply to the Associates lists and can be confusing when presented to the Associates subscriber as options. Since Associates is among the 180 other lists that are attempting to recreate lists, the UCR Help Desk is suffering from a deluge of questions. Until my phone calls can be returned, Jim Clark (Associates Assistant Editor) and I have tailored the subscribing software as much as possible for now.

Second, the 3,600 subscribers must be notified to re-subscribe. Associates is an international publication with international subscribers. Contacting library support staff everywhere on Earth is overwhelming. But I'm trying! I know wonderful people that I have had past correspondence with in England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and many, many other countries. All want to do whatever they can to help reestablished the subscriber lists. But it's not easy! There is not a Directory of all Library Staff in the World, 2005 edition that can be consulted. California, for example, has the University of California (10 campuses), the California State University (23 campuses), plus hundreds of community and private colleges, plus many hundred public and private libraries--all with nice websites that often list library staff. It will take me some time to contact each individual library staff person in California, and each U.S. state and every country and invite them to subscribe to Associates. But nothing is holding me back from trying!

In searching through our computer files, Jim Clark found a copy of the March 2002 subscriber's list for the email full-text version of Associates. Beginning February 22, I will start with this outdated and incomplete list of only 1,300 subscribers and contact the addresses listed. Many of the email addresses will be out of date. But it is a good beginning.

Also beginning February 22, we'll start a worldwide word-of-mouth campaign to inform subscribers of their need to re-subscribe and hopefully add new subscribers as well. As permitted, we'll also make the announcement on many of the listservs that are of interest to library staff.

At first in a desperate moment, I considered simply subscribing every name I could find and when they received a copy of Associates they could unsubscribe if they did not want it. But my common sense and ethical responsibility prevailed. Associates will remain a publication with subscribers who support the efforts, dedication, and professionalism of library support staff.

There are 2 types of subscriptions to Associates. The most popular subscription list is called Associates. When the new issue is published, subscribers receive the complete, full-text articles via email. Each issue averages 15-20 emails all sent separately. Many subscribers set up mail folders in their email system and read the articles as time permits.

The other subscription list is called AssociatesWeb. When the new issue is available on the Associates web site, a single email is sent out to subscribers as a notification. Subscribers can go to the web site to read articles as time permits.

If you had been a subscriber to Associates, please take a moment to subscribe.

If you are new to Associates, I invite you to explore the Associates web site—its current issue and archives. In July 2004, Associates celebrated 10 years of publication.

Subscribing to Associates is free. Only the editor has access to the subscription lists. The subscription lists have not and will never be shared or sold to anyone.

The Associates home page is at:

To subscribe to email issues (Associates), approximately 15-20 separately sent articles for each issue, go to:

To subscribe to email notification of new web issue (AssociatesWeb), go to:

You may also contact me directly if you have any questions. Please send an email to Wendee Eyler, Editor, at

Thank you all for your past and future support of Associates: The Electronic Library Support Staff Journal. Please share our subscription campaign with your co-workers and colleagues!

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