RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee

The RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee held its official meeting at ALA Annual in Anaheim on Saturday, June 23, as part of the RSS All-Committee meeting. Twelve people were in attendance. One of the primary goals of the meeting was final planning for the committee’s sponsored program held at Annual on Saturday, June 23, from 1:30-3:30 PM: “Are Virtual Reference Services Worth the Effort? What ROI Analysis and User Evaluations Tell Us.” The program was successful with approximately 150 people attending.

The committee is partnering with the RSS Marketing Committee on a webinar with Bill Pardue on marketing virtual reference services prior to Annual 2013. A discussion forum on this topic is planned for Annual 2013 itself with some sort of “bridge” activity between the webinar and Annual also being considered.

With the Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee now having access to the RUSA Drupal installation, they are moving ahead with posting content. They have renamed the “Tutorial” the “Virtual Reference Companion” and aim to make it applicable to both managers/supervisors of VR service and frontline VR librarians. We are very excited about their progress and what they have planned.

We are also looking at a change in our official mission statement to fold in the charge of the now-disbanded Cooperative Reference Services Committee to: “To identify and study issues relating to virtual reference services, and to evaluate and promote technological and service standards, guidelines, and ‘best practices’ for local and cooperative virtual reference services in all types of libraries.” We will be working with MARS and RSS to accomplish this.

Jason Coleman (Kansas State University Libraries and incoming Secretary of RSS) is moving ahead with the Survey Ad Hoc Group. He has recruited 2 people to help in designing and distributing the survey to determine the current state of virtual reference services.

The committee will be considering a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at either Midwinter and/or Annual.

The committee plans to conduct their official midwinter meeting virtually with a time to be determined.

Ellen Hampton Filgo, Chair, RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee, 2011-2012