What is a listserv?

A listserv is an e-mail discussion group. Members of the group can post requests, relay information or gather advice by using a listserv. It's an easy way to communicate and network with your colleagues since messages are sent to your own e-mail address.

Can anyone join a listserv?

Some listservs are open to anyone, others have certain restrictions. Most listservs are unmoderated which means that messages are uncensored and go directly to the group.

What kinds of things can I post on the listserv?

Different listservs accept different kinds of announcements although most of them do not accept unsolicited advertisements (also know as spam). It is best to stick to the purpose and topic of the listserv when posting information. It's a great idea to "lurk" for awhile before posting a message. Lurking is the act of reading the postings without responding to them. You'll get a good idea of what's appropriate for that list.

Does it cost anything to join?

There is no cost to subscribe to a listserv.

Can I send attachments to the list?

DO NOT send attachments to the list. If you have something you want to send by attachment post a short description of the attachment on the listserv and ask that people e-mail you directly to get the information.

I don't like what is being posted on the listserv. What can I do?

One thing you can do is e-mail the person responsible for the posting and work it out between you. You have a right to voice your complaint but do not post it to the entire group. This just adds more mail for people who already have too much to do. Another thing you could do is e-mail the list owner with your complaint. Of course if you really aren't enjoying the discussion you can always unsubscribe.

I'm still not sure about this particular listserv. Is there any way to get more information?

This discussion list is hosted by the University of Alaska, Alaska Medical Library, and was initiated by the Alaska Health Education Consortium and the Alaska Health Education Library Project (AHELP). For more information or problems with this list, please contact Kathy Murray, kmurray10@uaa.alaska.edu or 907-786-1611.

Here are the instructions:

  1. Send an email message to
  2. Leave the subject line blank
  3. In the body of the message, type: subscribe

Here is an example:

snapshot of email signup message

Once subscribed, you will receive a welcome message with more details, including how to leave the list if you change your mind.

How do I post to the AHELP listserv?

Once you have signed up for the listserv, you can post your message at ahelp@lib.uaa.alaska.edu for it to be distributed to the listserv. You must be a member in order to send messages.