Last Tuesday I sent out four email messages inviting people to serve as judges for the Movers and Shakers in Archives awards. One of those messages was to someone I know, the other three were to people I do not know. In the message I asked them to respond “within the next few days.” The person I know responded very quickly, regretfully declining. I have not received any replies from the other three people.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t think about blogging about this, but it continues a disturbing trend and I would like to ask for your professional opinions. What are reasonable expectations of professional courtesy? Since starting this blog a year ago, I’ve sent out a lot of email messages to people I don’t know (and many to people I do know). At least 50% of the time, I don’t receive any form of reply or acknowledgment. In all of these cases, I am writing to someone regarding a professional matter, often offering an opportunity or a service, and usually in regard to the person’s elected or appointed role in a professional organization.
My expectation would be that I would always receive a reply of some kind, however brief, within a relatively short period of time. Say a week. Is this unreasonable? I don’t expect this to happen 100% of the time–we all know that things happen. People are sick, they have family issues, messages get caught in spam filters–things happen. But for the most part, no matter how important and busy you are, and no matter how unimportant you think the person contacting you is, I still think you are obligated to respond in a timely manner. But, since am I finding that my colleagues do not seem to share this expectation, I ask you: am I unrealistic, and what do you think constitutes a “timely manner”?
Regarding the membership of the jury, my intent in inviting people I don’t know was to bring in other points of view and broaden the perspective of the jury. I’m re-thinking that approach. Perhaps I would be better off after all in choosing people I know and that I know I can count on. I find it interesting that in such a small profession people don’t seem concerned about possibly offending a colleague by, essentially, blowing them off. Or is it that I’m usually writing to people who are so far along in their careers that they really just don’t care anymore?