UCAR Communications

staff notes monthly

May 2003

Delphi Question: Publications on the Web

Delphi Question #500 (received 25 March): Regarding the various publications that come out on a regular basis (Staff Notes, UCAR Quarterly, etc.), wouldn’t it be more environmentally friendly to simply offer these on the Web, rather than placing a paper copy in every employee’s mailbox? When a new issue is ready, a link could be placed in This Week.

I realize there may be non-UCAR employees who receive these publications, and a paper copy may be the best solution for them, but it seems like we could save a lot of paper if we went with a Web solution at least internally.

Response (received 4 April): The short answer is that people tell us they prefer the paper versions. The last time we surveyed readers of Staff Notes Monthly and the UCAR Quarterly (1996 and 2001, respectively), they overwhelmingly preferred print. Fewer than 1% of Staff Notes readers and 5.6% of Quarterly readers opted for the Web version. As one staff member commented, “I know it’s environmentally appropriate and more cost-effective to do without hard copy, but it feels like work I need to deal with instead of something pleasurable to read.” We suspect staff think of our publications like a daily newspaper or a magazine—something to carry around and read at lunch, on the shuttle, on break, or even take home and share with the family. We’re regularly refilling the stands in the lobbies with current and back copies.

External readers seem to feel the same way. We just e-mailed 1,000 of the Quarterly’s 3,000 subscribers in early March. That message invited people to receive electronic notification when each issue of the Quarterly goes on the Web and (as a separate item) to cancel their print subscription if they preferred to read it on the Web. So far we have gotten only 26 requests to be notified of new issues by e-mail and four print cancellations. A purge last fall of the Quarterly and Highlights mailing lists yielded a similarly small number of cancellations.

In order to streamline internal distribution and avoid hundreds of labels, we don’t send individually addressed copies of our publications. This means that individual staff can’t subscribe and unsubscribe. Instead, we ask administrators group by group to let the mailroom know how many copies they want. This allows groups to share copies. If you prefer to read Staff Notes or the Quarterly on the Web, please let the person in your group who distributes mail know. We have just redesigned the Web versions of both publications (see Staffnotes and Quarterly). We also use the Web for Staff Notes “extras” between issues. And of course, we distribute routine announcements only electronically and save the print newsletters for longer interpretive pieces. We use recycled paper in all our publications and revisit our print runs issue by issue to be sure we’re not printing too many copies.

We are in the process of designing a new staff survey. It asks specifically about print vs. electronic preferences. Please watch for it and give us your feedback. Our bottom line is to produce publications people want to read, regardless of the format.

—Lucy Warner, director UCAR Communications

Questions and suggestions from the staff to management may be submitted in confidence to the Delphi Coordinator. They should be submitted in written form, preferably via interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked confidential. They must be signed. Detailed procedures for submitting questions are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures Manual, section 4-1-2, and on the Delphi Web site, www.ucar.edu/delphi. Staff Notes Monthly publishes questions and answers of general interest to staff, and the Delphi Web site has a log of all questions submitted since 1995.

Also in this issue:

In the midnight hour: BAMEX takes aim at dangerous night storms

The long riders: How some staffers cope with epic commutes

Study finds lower atmosphere warming

An information divide

Building bridges for Latina students

Short takes



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