Committee Reports

Communication & Teaching at the Point of Need Committee

The RUSA Communication and Teaching at Point of Need Committee has finalized their survey results and will be reporting to the membership shortly. We will be meeting virtually for midwinter at a date TBA shortly on the ALA Connect website.

Christine Sharbrough, Chair 2012-2013


Discussion Forums Coordinating Committee

Just Ask: Defining and Advocating for the Reference Librarian (Sunday, January 27, 8:30-10:00 AM) Want to influence the way RUSA advocates for reference services? Join members of the RUSA Just Ask Committee to discuss the evolving role of reference librarians and reference services in all types of libraries. The discussion will help create a RUSA member-influenced vision of both, which in turn will assist the organization in advocating more effectively for the support and development of quality reference services.

Unhappy Campers: Coping with Job Dissatisfaction and Burnout on the Front Lines (Monday, January 28, 2013, 1:00-2:30 PM) Shrinking budgets, staff cuts, competing demands, impatient patrons; it all has an impact on staff morale and the quality of service provided by librarians everywhere. Gather with colleagues to discuss the issues faced, as well as potential strategies for managing unhappiness and distress in the workplace from the perspectives of library administration, peers, and the individual librarian.

Crystal Lentz, Chair 2012-2013


Education and Professional Development for Reference

The Education and Professional Development for Reference Committee is working hard with MARS to put together a fantastic and free ALA Midwinter Workshop on New Technology for Reference. For more information and to register please see the details below.

As our primary focus this fall has been with the workshop, the group has engaged in discussions with other committees regarding an education offering around marketing reference resources.

RUSA MARS and RSS invite you to “New Tech for Reference: from the reference interview to roving reference, challenges, benefits and best practice” at the University of Washington’s Odegaard Library. The workshop is free, open to all and includes refreshments. ALA membership or Midwinter registration is not required.

Reference technology is constantly changing; what was once radical has become established, complete with best practices. Newer technologies appear rapidly, challenging us to understand, learn and adapt ever more quickly.

This workshop explores three new reference technologies, their benefits, challenges and best practices: using social media for reference; applying iPads in roving reference; and integrating a knowledge base system (such as LibAnswers) into reference services.


1:00 – 1:15: Check-in

1:15 – 1:25: Welcome and introductions

1:25 – 2:45: Social media in reference – challenges, benefits and best practices (Michelle Chronister, U.S. General Services Administration)

2:45 – 3:10: Break (refreshments courtesy of OCLC QuestionPoint)

3:10 – 3:55: Using iPads for roving reference (Ava Iuliana, Cindy Dottin and Lauren Christos – Florida International University)

3:55 – 4:40: Knowledge base systems for reference (Erica Nicol and Linda Crook, Washington State University)

4:40 – 5:00: Wrap-up, closing and evaluations

Everyone is welcome, but pre-registration is required at . In the event that registration reaches capacity, RUSA members will have preference.

Additional information about the workshop is available (including session descriptions) here:

Kristen Mastel & Joseph Yue, Co-Chairs 2012-2013


Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee

Please note thatMeasuring and Assessing Reference Services and Resources: A Guide is available in public ALA Connect space. This guide was spearheaded by the Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee when chaired by Lisa Horowitz in 2002-2003. In 2010-2011, committee members Tiffany Walsh, Robin Kinder, Jan Tidwell, and Richard Caldwell updated the guide and moved it into Connect. We hope RSS members make use of this valuable resource!

Ellen Keith, Chair 2011-2013


Health and Medical Reference Committee (HMRC)

The HMRC met virtually using Blackboard Collaborate on September 10, 2012. The committee decided to handle all of its professional communication on ALA Connect. The committee will be creating an ALA Connect Community for health and medical reference discussions. Various panelists were brought up and discussed as possibilities for the program at ALA 2013. Various members of the committee decided to spearhead the webinar series, and another group agreed to work on the new Medical Guidelines. Virtual meetings to discuss these two areas are being planned for this fall. A meeting of the HMRC is planned for ALA Midwinter.

Karen Vargas, Chair 2012-2014


Job and Career Reference Committee

The RSS Job and Career Reference Committee will have a discussion group at Midwinter, “Helping Patrons Find Employment or New Career Information.” The discussion group is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, January 26 from 10:30-11:30 AM.

We also are welcoming new committee member from BRASS, Janet Franks.

Kate Oberg, Chair 2012-2013


Library Service to an Aging Population

We are planning to meet virtually in January.

Abigail Elder, Chair 2012-2013


Library Services to the Spanish Speaking

Mother Goose and Promoting Library Services to the Spanish Speaking Community

Lucia Castillo, BA in Librarianship from Leeds Polytechnic, England, and MLS from the University of British Columbia, Canada, has worked with academic and special libraries in Peru for over 25 years. Since 2007, she has been working at the Vancouver Public Library. Her Mother Goose Program in Spanish for the Latino community is the only program available in Vancouver for Spanish speaking children. The Services to Spanish Speaking committee is proud to be able to have Lucia Castillo at ALA Midwinter on Sunday from 10:30-11:30 AM to give sample “story hour.” Attendees will learn the difficulties of meeting needs of the Spanish-speaking community through a question and answer period and discussions. There is evidence music stimulates the development of cognitive ability and emotional intelligence from an early age. Why not start teaching parents today to use rhymes and songs with their children? As Hans Christian Andersen said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” While Mother Goose programs attract children, the Mother Goose program is meant for parents. They are going to rescue a tradition applicable to other cultures, such as the Latino community. New immigrants need to integrate, but without losing their heritage and culture. For the Latino families, the Mother Goose program is a totally new thing. Through the program the Latino families keep their heritage, language, culture, tradition, socialize in a group activity, and make lifelong friendship. Services to the Spanish Speaking described the details of a survey published in the REFORMA Newsletter. ASCLA recognizes, along with the Services to the Spanish speaking, the 43% growth of the U.S. Hispanic population. Bringing Latinos into the library still remains an uphill battle. RUSA RSS is sponsoring this exciting discussion during ALA Midwinter – see you in Seattle. For more information, please contact Stephen Marvin ( or Lucia Castillo (

Stephen Marvin, Chair 2012-2013


Management of Reference Committee

The Committee has begun writing “Professional Competencies for the Management of Reference Services.” We are looking at current job ads to see what skills and talents are being sought these days. We are also looking for similar types of documents from other organizations and plan to do a literature review. Nancy Huling, a current committee member, was also on the Committee when the original Competencies were written, so her wisdom will be beneficial to the process. We are not meeting in person at Midwinter, but we will hold a virtual meeting on January 30, 2013 to continue our efforts.

Sally Dockter, Chair 2012-2013


Marketing and Public Relations for Reference

The RSS Marketing and PR Committee will meet on Saturday, January 26 from 10:30-11:30 AM. The location has not been determined. This is a regular meeting to discuss our goals, upcoming program planning, and work on collaboration with other RSS committees.

Cathay Crosby, Chair 2011-2013


Organization and Planning Committee

The Organization & Planning Committee will soon begin work on updating the RSS Handbook, reviewing the RSS Bylaws, and assisting the RSS Executive Committee with holding the RSS Annual Open House. The Committee will be meeting virtually for Midwinter. The time and date will be announced via RSS-L.


Liane Taylor, Chair 2012-2013


Recognition Committee

RSS Service Achievement Award Nominate someone today!

The Reference and Services Section of RUSA is pleased to solicit nominations for the annual RSS Service Achievement Award. This award, which will be presented at the annual RSS Open House and the RUSA annual awards ceremony, honors an RSS member’s contributions to the section. The recipient will be chosen based on either sustained contributions towards attaining the goals of RSS or a single significant contribution that has resulted in a positive impact upon the work of the section.

Please send your nomination detailing specifically how the nominee has met either of these criteria to Virginia Cole (, the award committee chair, by December 1.

Virginia Cole, Chair 2012-2013


Research and Statistics Committee

The Committee will not be meeting in person at Midwinter, and will schedule a virtual meeting soon.

Call for Presentations

The Research and Statistics Committee of the Reference Services Section of RUSA invites the submission of research projects for presentation at the 19th Reference Research Forum at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

The Reference Research Forum continues to be one of the most popular and valuable programs during the ALA Annual Conference, where attendees can learn about notable research projects conducted in the broad area of reference services such as user behavior, electronic services, reference effectiveness and assessment, and organizational structure and personnel. All researchers, including reference practitioners from all types of libraries, library school faculty and students, and other interested individuals, are encouraged to submit a proposal.

For examples of projects presented at past Forums, please see the Committee’s website:

The Committee employs a blind review process to select three projects for 20-minute presentations, followed by open discussion. Selected submissions must be presented in person at the Forum in Chicago.

Criteria for selection:

  • Quality and creativity of the research design and methodologies;
  • Significance of the study for improving the quality of reference service;
  • Potential for research to fill a gap in reference knowledge or to build on previous studies;
  • Research projects may be in-progress or completed;
  • Previously published research or research accepted for publication will not be accepted.

Proposals are due by Monday, December 31, 2012. Notification of acceptance will be made by Monday, February 11, 2013. The submission must not exceed two pages. Please include:

1      A cover sheet including your name(s), title(s), institutional affiliation(s), mailing address(es), fax number(s) and email address(es).

2      The second page should NOT show your name, any personal information, or the name of your institution. Instead, it must include:

a. Title of the project;

b. Explicit statement of the research problem;

c. Description of the research design and methodologies used, and preliminary findings if any;

d. Brief discussion of the unique contribution, potential impact, and significance of the research.

Please send submissions by email to: Lynda Duke Chair, RUSA RSS Research and Statistics Committee.

Lynda Duke, Chair 2012-2013


Virtual Reference Services (MARS/RSS)

The RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee has been going through some transitions this year so far. We’ve had some personnel changes with several members resigning or expressing interest in resigning to take on new duties and different responsibilities. We wish them all the best! One of those was coordinating our “RUSA MARS/RSS VR Committee Survey Ad Hoc Group” so we are looking for someone who would like to take on that project. (You need not be a current member of the committee.) The committee has also been in transition on communication channels and is in the process of switching from our current listserv to one sponsored by ALA. The listserv serves as a “behind-the-scenes” tool for discussions by and announcements to committee members that may not be quite ready for posting to ALA Connect.

The committee will be having a virtual meeting in early 2013, and we are looking forward to moving ahead on projects in the New Year.

Don Boozer, Chair 2012-2013


Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee

Jason Coleman has stepped down from the subcommittee and we wish to thank him for all his contributions. We have since added two new members to our group and we would like to welcome Christine Tobias and Neal Pomea. We are thrilled to have them join the team.

The subcommittee continues to meet monthly and works in subgroups between meetings. We will not be meeting at Midwinter, but our virtual monthly meeting will be on January 22nd at 1:00-2:00 PM CST. Our new members have been going through Drupal training while the rest of us move forward with our modules. The Resources section has been reorganized by topic and we will continue adding to this section as we work on additional modules. The Training module is still in progress and will be complete by Midwinter. We have recently discussed the Interview Skills and Core Competencies modules and subgroups have begun to take ideas from those meetings and implement them into Drupal content.

This will bring us to having four sections complete (or almost complete) by Midwinter. With additional members, we hope to continue at a fast pace into the spring to get most of the Virtual Reference Companion (VRC) complete by the Annual Conference.

Jared Hoppenfeld, Chair 2012-2013

Jennifer Lau-Bond, Chair 2011-201



RSS Review is the newsletter of the Reference Services Section of Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association. Please send suggestions for future issues to Amy Rustic (, editor.