Where’s AL Direct?

American Libraries gets that question a fair amount—about five times a week. And with good reason: All ALA personal members are eligible to receive the newsletter, and yet, obviously, sometimes it doesn’t show up in their inbox.

The short answer to any readers who aren’t getting AL Direct is this: I don’t know—there are a lot of possibile reasons— but send an email to aldirect@ala.org letting us know that you’re not receiving the newsletter and George Eberhart or I will investigate.

For those craving detailed insight into anything that can go wrong in email publishing, read on.

Dirty Dozen

So far, we’ve found 12 reasons that AL Direct isn’t making it to your inbox.

  1. An incorrect email address in iMis. That’s our membership database, from which we generate a new mailing list for AL Direct each week. A typo there will send the newsletter to the wrong place.
  2. IMis doesn’t list you as a personal member. This may be because you genuinely aren’t a member—in which case, we’re flattered, and recommend you join the ALA to gain this and many other benefits of membership—or because your record isn’t showing your membership because it hasn’t been processed yet or some other error in the records.
  3. Your ALA communication preferences block AL Direct. Members can set their communication preferences by logging into the ALA website and clicking the “review their communication preferences” link. Here, you can choose from four levels of communication. AL Direct is considered information from an ALA unit, so the “Just ALA, please” or “Official communications only” don’t include it.
  4. The newsletter is being sent to your address, but it’s being redirected to a spam or junk mail folder, or being otherwised blocked.
  5. The newsletter had a soft bounce, meaning that it reached your mail server successfully but not your specific address.
  6. The newsletter had a hard bounce, meaning the address we’ve got is invalid, due to a bad domain, an unknown user, or a network problem.
  7. Our mailing system is still working on getting the newsletter to you. When it registers a bounced newsletter, our system will continue trying to send the newsletter several more times over the next few days.
  8. You’ve unsubscribed. This can happen inadvertantly with stray clicks. It’s also a hazard of forwarding the newsletter: if the person you forward it to clicks “unsubscribe”, your account will register the unsubscribe.
  9. You’ve had enough previous hard bounces to be removed from our list. If an address bounces the newsletter several weeks in a row, our mailing service will assume that it’s a bad address and stop sending the newsletter there.
  10. You’ve had enough previous soft bounces to be removed from our list. Same as above.
  11. The address has been blacklisted. This is essentially the same as being unsubscribed, the main difference in practice being precisely how it happens rather than its effect.
  12. There’s a problem with the query that generates our mailing list from iMis.

The good news is that any of these problems are usually fairly easy to solve, once diagnosed. So, if you’re not getting the newsletter, let us know (that address again: aldirect@ala.org) and we’ll sort it out.

—Greg Landgraf, American Libraries editorial assistant

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