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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:  October 28, 2010

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E-Mail List Communication Empowers
Gabriela Linares, L-Soft, USA

Mini-Workshop: Email Lists

E-mail lists can benefit museum communication by improving outreach to the public and internal communication among museum staff. Because e-mail is instantaneous, museums can be assured that timely information will reach members and staff immediately. E-mail can also be a powerful tool for marketing memberships and appealing to donors. The types of relevant announcements that can be sent include event calendars, reception invitations, and museum news including new exhibitions.

The purpose of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago is stated as the "accumulation and dissemination of knowledge, and the preservation and exhibition of objects illustrating art, archaeology, science, and history." This 100-year-old institution first began using e-mail lists for effective communication among its internal staff. Subsequently, e-mail updates were sent to the museum's specially trained educators and board of trustees. In addition, they now send "E-News From The Field", the museum's e-mail newsletter, featuring news about exhibitions, programs, scientific findings, and more. An e-newsletter sign up page on the web site at www.fieldmuseum.org makes it accessible and easy for anyone to get opt-in news by e-mail.

The technology that enables successful e-mail list communication can be outsourced or run independently on an institution's computer network. The Field Museum technical staff incorporated e-mail list management software on their server, and today sends moderated system-wide messages to approximately one thousand e-mail accounts, 10 to 15 times a week. Their museum-wide list broadcasts about 10 to 15 e-mails per week to 1050 e-mail addresses. They have four other lists that range from 100 to 275 recipients and send between one to eight messages a month. The constant stream of information is handled automatically and the software can be easily adapted for new projects in the future.