Messages from MARS, the Newsletter of the RUSA MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference Section

Missy Clapp, Editor

From the Chair

MARS is busy getting ready for ALA Annual in New Orleans, and we hope you’ll be able to join us for what promises to be an exciting lineup of events. As the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section, MARS focuses our programming on reference innovations in all types of libraries. Here are some highlights of what we’ll be offering in New Orleans.

On Friday, June 24, MARS and the Reference Services Section (RSS) are co-sponsoring a preconference on the stimulating topic of reference/IT collaborations. Speakers will come from both the library and IT sides. Registration is available on the ALA website.

As usual, we’ll also be hosting the popular MARS Happy Hour. In New Orleans Happy Hour will be held on Saturday, June 25 (please note the change from our usual Friday time) from 5:00 – 7:00 pm at Mulate’s Restaurant, 201 Julia St. Complimentary snacks will be served, and MARS members will be on hand to let you know all about the work of our section. Come to learn more about us, or just come to relax with a drink and some yummy local cuisine. As a former New Orleanian, I can promise that the food and venue are not to be missed.

Immediately before the Happy Hour, please join us for the Virtual Reference Discussion Group (VRDG), which will be discussing the use of iPads for virtual reference. The discussion will be held from 4:00 – 5:30 pm on Saturday at the Embassy Suites on Julia St, which is right around the corner from Mulate’s. So come for the VRDG and then join us for the MARS Happy Hour! The MARS Hot Topics Discussion Group will also be held on Saturday from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm and will discuss the use of technology to schedule, standardize and assess reference services.

I’m very excited about the MARS Chair’s Program, which will cover the hot topic of user experience design. Speakers from academic, public, and special libraries will talk about what UX means to them, and how they implement good UX design. Don’t miss a chance to learn more about this topic of growing interest. At the program, to be held Sunday, June 26 from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm, we’ll also honor this year’s recipient of the My Favorite Martian award, Linda Keiter. The MARS/RSS Joint Virtual Reference Committee will also be sponsoring a program with the intriguing title “Behind the Text: Pulling Back the Curtain on Virtual Reference,” on Saturday, June 25 from 8:00 – 10:00 am

Finally, please consider joining us for the All-Committee meeting on Sunday, June 26 from 8:00 – 10:00 am If you’re interested in getting more involved with MARS, this is a great opportunity to sit in on the meetings of all the MARS committees in one room, observe what we do, and check out volunteer opportunities. Visitors are welcome and can move from table to table to talk with different committees. For the exact location of the meeting and all other MARS activities, please consult the final program. Additional details on some events are also available below. We hope to see you!

In other MARS news, our committees have been hard at work on other projects. Watch for this year’s list of Best Free Reference Websites, to be published in the Fall issue of RUSQ. The Education, Training, and Support committee is planning a webinar for May 25 on Screencasting Tips and Tricks based on their successful program at ALA Annual 2010. More details will be available soon. Our Professional Development committee is working on more webinars, and our Local Systems and Services Committee continues to follow developments in the area of discovery systems and will be sponsoring upcoming discussions and a program on this topic.

We welcome participation in all of our programs and initiatives. If you’re interested in getting involved with MARS, just contact me ( or Vice-Chair Dianna McKellar ( for more information.

Anne Houston, MARS Chair 2010-2011