My favorite tools: Slack
This is the second of a series of post on productivity and organizational tools that I’m finding useful in my library work.
If you’re not currently using Slack, you’ve surely heard of it. There are gobs of ways to use Slack for communicating with teams of people, and it makes a great compliment to the other productivity tools that you’re already using.
What is it?
Like Trello is a collections of lists of lists, Slack is a tool that allows conversations within conversations.
- Each group of people makes up a “workspace” with its own login. These workspaces are easy to toggle on your toolbar.
- Within each workspace, you can create conversations around topics that are indicated with a hashtag.
- You can create additional conversations between a subset of people in the workspace.
This is just the tip of the iceberg too. You can add files, link services like Dropbox, Twitter, and Google Drive, and enjoy all the emojis you care to throw around.
But how is Slack useful to a librarian?
Pull your (various & sundry) PLNs together
If your PLNs are communicating via email threads, secret Facebook groups, Twitter DMs and group texts, you’re probably bouncing around to check these various sources multiple times a day. Stop it. Pull everyone together in Slack channels and you’ll have everyone in one place. No one is going to get forgotten when you dash off an email, there will be a notification any time you miss something, and you can keep use your time more efficiently. Plus, those venting sessions can now happen outside of publicly searchable web! Since I started using Slack as a PLN tool, I’ve felt more connected, less frustrated by the noise on social media, and we communicate more often in a more practical way. It’s the best.
Plan big projects together
Are you working with a few other people on a big author visit at your library? Set up a Slack workspace and create channels for all of the various pieces. Your to-do list has just become an asynchronous meeting, and you’ve kept all of your ideas and documentation in one place. Plus, it’s searchable. TLT uses Slack to coordinate projects. So does another PLN I’m a part of. Our big project, Everyday Librarians, is launching soon thanks to the collaborative planning platform that Slack provides.
Minimize your email
OMG there’s so much email. Sooooo muuuuch eeeeeeeemaiiiiiil! Pulling your coworkers into Slack for minor but important conversations (“FIY, I won’t be here when the garden group comes to use the meeting room. Can someone set up the room for them?” “I’ll be in a program. Sorry!” “Yeah, me neither” “I can do it!” “Thanks, Jane!” “No problem, Susan!”) is going to clear so much clutter out of your inbox. Put all of that in a #RoomSetup channel and then it’s there when you need in, and hanging out behind an unobtrusive little hashtag when you don’t. That’s going to let those messages from vendors, patrons, and other non-coworkers be the focus of your email time, which is going to make that time so much more effective and so much less distracting.
Like I said, this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Slack can do. Please share in the comments if you’re an avid Slack user with great ideas on how to make it work for you and your groups.
About Heather Booth
Heather Booth has worked in libraries since 2001 and am the author of Serving Teens Through Reader’s Advisory (ALA Editions, 2007) and the editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Servcies along with Karen Jensen.
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