The Occasional Problem With Academic Listservs

January 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hi. I’m writing a book on American History.  I was wondering if any of you on this listserv know of any sources I could use and where I could find them.  Thanks.

I am a member of a bunch of academic listservs, each geared towards my various research interests.  At their best, they are indispensable resources to help with teaching, research, and publication questions. At their best, academics and students use these to hunt down obscure sources, discuss our research, and keep abreast of new research in our fields, and so on.

But too often, I see requests like the one above.  Lazy scholars, both students and professors, unable to go look at their university’s library holdings.  Or, frankly, the holdings of their community library.  Or scholars too lazy to do a quick internet search of their own to find archival holdings, etc.

Some of the listservs I’m on are edited well, so these kinds of things don’t come through.  Others, not so much.  The surprising thing is that only about 30% of the time do other members of these listservs respond by suggesting someone do a quick internet search before posting asinine questions.  Sometimes people even respond by doing research for the posters.  Most of the time, though, they get ignored.  I’d just prefer more stringent editing, thanks.

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