RSS Committee Reports

Catalog Use Committee
The Catalog Use Committee will meet during the RSS All Committee meeting on Saturday, June 29 from 8:30-10:00 A.M in McCormick Place Convention Center, room N226. Our meeting agenda will include discussion of a new committee name and updated charge and plans for a discussion forum for Midwinter 2014. The Committee has compiled a bibliography of books and articles on value-added features of both the present and future library catalog available on ALA Connect.

Colleen Seale, Chair

Communication and Teaching at the Point of Need Committee
The committee met virtually on February 13, 2013. This was a time to check in with the committee and to strategize how to move forward. The committee agreed that broadening the scope of the goals beyond technology concerns would be beneficial. As a result of the meeting, the goals were revised and we have begun work on an additional survey that we intend to send out early this summer.

The revised goals are as follows:

  • to explore issues around teaching at the point of need and identify areas where additional support may be needed (we will begin with surveying the community)
  • based on that exploration, build a portfolio of best practices for engaging at the point of need and resources to assist with meeting challenges that arose in the survey data

Holly Wilson, Chair 2013-2014

Discussion Forums Coordinating Committee
The RSS Discussion Forums Coordinating Committee will be holding two discussion forums on reference-related topics at Annual.

Keeping it Real in a Virtual World: Managing and Promoting Your Online Reference Collection
Facilitators: Sara Memmott, Eastern Michigan University Library, and April Levy, Reference & Instruction Librarian, Columbia College Chicago Library

Sunday, June 30, 1:00-2:30 P.M., Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbus KL

As reference sources continue to migrate from print to online, librarians face challenges in managing and promoting these new online reference collections.  Increased cost, restrictive subscription models, less visibility, and increasing use of mobile devices and apps are just a few of the issues being encountered in all types of libraries.  Gather with colleagues to discuss how we can “keep it real” and acquire, manage, and promote online reference collections that provide real, valuable information for our community members.

Technology Competencies for Reference Librarians
Facilitator: Tina Chan, State University of New York at Oswego

Monday, July 1, 8:30-10:00 A.M., Hilton Chicago, Buckingham Room

Patrons expect reference librarians to know the latest technology.  From basic computer skills and computer troubleshooting, to using the online catalog and databases, to navigating and troubleshooting mobile devices, questions run the gamut and require utilizing a variety of skills and knowledge. What technology competencies does your library expect librarians to have?  What competencies should librarians have to help them better assist patrons?  How do you keep skills up-to-date?  Meet with colleagues to discuss these and other questions related to the ever changing technology landscape in libraries and its impact on providing quality reference services to customers.

Crystal Lentz, Chair 2012-2013

Education and Professional Development for Reference
The Education and Professional Development for Reference Committee will meet at Annual during the All RSS Committee meetings on Saturday, June 29 from 8:30-10:00 A.M. at McCormick Place Convention Center, room N226. The Committee hopes to offer a free workshop opportunity at an upcoming ALA conference, watch for future information.

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

Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee
ERUS has joined forces with the Virtual Reference Services (VRS) Committee and created an ad hoc committee to survey the current state of virtual reference. VRS chairs Don Boozer and Alisa Gonzalez and I are very excited about this and sat in on an excellent virtual meeting the ad hoc committee had. Anyone who is interested in hearing an update in person should find the ERUS and VRS tables at the RSS Open House at Annual.

Ellen Keith, Chair, 2011-2013

Health and Medical Reference Committee
The committee will host a program during the ALA Annual Conference, Different Strokes: Serving the Health Information Needs of a Diverse Community. The program will take place Sunday, June 30, 2013 from 1:00pm to 2:30 P.M. in the McCormick Place Convention Center, room S102a. The committee’s suggestion for a free RSS webinar on health and medical resources has been accepted, and the presenters are planning the date and time for the webinar. Details will be announced shortly. A subgroup to rewrite guidelines for medical reference has met several times to discuss guidelines planning. The committee continued to discuss the creation of an ALA Connect Community for health and medical reference discussions. The committee has established a listserv where librarians can discuss issues regarding medical reference. The email address is The link to subscribe is

Karen Vargas, Chair 2012-2014

Job and Career Reference Committee
The Job & Career Reference Committee is setting up a wiki for use by librarians to include career resources. This wiki is intended for different types of institutions (public, academic, & career colleges). For more information or to get involved with our online wiki efforts, contact the committee chair Kate Oberg (

Kate Oberg, Chair 2012-2013

Library Service to an Aging Population
Library Services to an Aging Population met in April to review its charter, and the Guidelines on Library and Information Services to Older Adults. We expect to approve new charter language at the June meeting. The committee is sponsoring a program at ALA Annual in Chicago: Boomers to Seniors: Library Models for Serving and Engaging Older Adults on Monday, July 1 from 8:30-10:00 A.M. at the McCormick Place Convention Center, room S106b.

Abigail Elder, Chair 2012-2013

Library Services to the Spanish Speaking
Arizona Libraries: Spanish Services and Community Outreach will take place at ALA Annual in Chicago, Sunday June 30, 3:00-4:00 P.M. at the McCormick Place Convention Center, room N227a.

As a border state, Arizona has historically had a large Spanish-speaking/Latino community. With the recent increase in immigration from Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, library services and outreach to these communities is needed more than ever. Come learn how Yuma County Library District and Pima County Public Library have used their resources, staff skills, and community-building to provide relevant services and programming to these ever-growing communities. We will share examples of successful programming and provide strategies for making connections to your own Spanish Speaking communities. Presented by Paulina Aguirre-Clinch, Marissa Alcorta, Paula Maez, Emily Scherr, and Cecilia Tovar.

Stephen Marvin, Chair 2012-2013

Marketing and Public Relations for Reference
Our committee is pleased to be co-sponsoring a three part program, Slam the Boards: a Model for Marketing through Action with MARS/VR (Don Boozer and Alisa Gonzalez). The third part of the program will be held at ALA Annual on June 29.

Let’s Discuss How it Works for You/Your Library (on June 29). Attend the follow-up discussion forum based on the previous webinars held on May 21 and June 10. Share your “Slam” experiences and learn from your colleagues! Saturday, June 29, from 3:00-4:00 P.M. Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, room Clark 22A-C

The webinars and discussion forum have been co-sponsored by the RSS Marketing and Public Relations for Reference Services Committee and the RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee.

If you have any questions, please contact webinar organizers Don Boozer ( , Alisa Gonzalez ( or Cathay Crosby (

Cathay Crosby, Chair 2011-2013

Recognition Committee
The Recognition Committee received a number of nominations for the RSS Service Achievement Award and selected Larayne J. Dallas (engineering librarian at the University of Texas at Austin) as the 2013 winner!

Larayne will be honored at the RUSA Achievement Awards Reception and Volunteer Appreciation Party, which will be held from 5:00-6:30 P.M. Sunday, June 30 at Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Prairie Room. All conference attendees are invited to participate in this celebration, which will include hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar, so please consider attending.

Larayne has had a long career in RSS. She is widely regarded as one of the most hard-working RSS members having served on, or chaired, numerous committees over the past ten years. She’s also an active and generous mentor for members and new chairs. Her involvement in RSS includes:

  • Served four years (2005-2009) as a member of the RSS Organization Committee.
  • Chair (2006-2007) of the RSS Management of Reference Committee, while continuing as a member (2003 -2007)
  • 2002-2004 first chair of the ALA/RUSA Hot Topics in Front Line Reference Discussion Group
  • Chair and RSS member of the RUSA RSS 2010 Nominating Committee
  • 2003-2004 member of the MOUSS Nominating Committee
  • RSS Honor Roll (2009)

These are a few words and phrases that immediately come to mind when Larayne’s name comes up:

  • Modest
  • Dedicated
  • Kind
  • Good-humored
  • A quiet and effective leader

Virginia Cole, Chair 2012-2013

Research and Statistics Committee
In January, the RSS Research and Statistics Committee selected three presenters for the 19th Annual Reference Research Forum. The program is scheduled for Saturday, June 29th from 1:00-2:30 A.M. at McCormick Place Convention Center, room S404bc and will include the following:

  • Research Guides Usability Study, by Angela Pashia, Instructional Services Outreach Librarian, University of West Georgia
  • Two Birds, One Stone: Using a Mixed Methods Approach to Measure Service Process and Identify Usability Pain Points in Virtual Reference, by Christine Tobias, User Experience and Reference Librarian, Michigan State University Libraries
  • Query Clarification in Chat Reference: A Visual Transcript Analysis, by Alexa Pearce, Librarian for Journalism, Media, Culture & Communication, New York University Libraries

In addition, the committee is currently selecting articles to annotate for the annual Reference Research Review.

Lynda Duke, Chair 2012-2013

Virtual Reference Services (MARS/RSS)
The RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services (VRS) Committee has been busy and has several exciting initiatives planned for the upcoming ALA Annual Conference!

The VRS Committee and the RSS Evaluation of Reference & User Services (ERUS) Committee have begun co-sponsoring an ad hoc team to ascertain the current state of virtual reference. The team consists of six individuals from a variety of backgrounds: public, academic, ipl2, and one librarian who also staffs OCLC’s QuestionPoint. They have had their initial meeting and will begin creating a survey instrument and considering the logistics of administering it. The ad hoc team will be giving a status report on their project at our joint VRS-ERUS committee meeting at Annual during the RSS Open House & All-Committee Meeting on Saturday, June 29, 8:30-10:00 A.M. in McCormick Place Convention Center, room N226. All those interested in the work of the team are welcomed to attend!

Along with the RSS Marketing and Public Relations for Reference Services Committee, the VRS Committee is also co-sponsoring Slam the Boards! A Model for Marketing through Action: A Reference Services Discussion Forum on Saturday, June 29, from 3:00-4:00 P.M. in Clark 22A-C at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. Anyone is welcome to attend the forum, especially those who also attended the webinar on the same topic in May. This lively discussion will focus on sharing ideas on active marketing and promotion of your institution’s reference services (both in-person and virtual).

The VRS Committee is also, for the first time, sponsoring an informal Wikipedia Edit-a-thon during Annual. Final details are still being planned, so stay tuned to the committee’s ALA Connect site as that info becomes available. For those who have never edited or contributed content to a Wikipedia article before, this is an opportunity to experiment. We’re planning on providing a quick-n-dirty introduction to being a Wikipedian as well as the opportunity to add your own content. The focus will be on “hyper-local” resources, but you’re welcome to edit any article that strikes your fancy. For those interested in dropping by the Edit-a-thon itself, we’ll be holding it in the Networking Uncommons area at McCormick Place. We’ll be posting our schedule there as well. We’re also still looking for anyone who would be interested in serving as a Wikipedia Mentor for our Edit-a-thon to help people get accustomed to the role of editor. The committee is excited about this informal, pilot project and, if successful, looking for ways to make it a regular part of the annual conference.

Don Boozer, Chair 2012-2013

Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee
The Subcommittee has been hard at work on the tutorial, renamed the “Virtual Reference Companion: A Guide for VR Coordinators and Librarians,” or “VRC” for short.

We had two new members join us in the Fall: Christine Tobias and Neal Pomea. They replaced Jason Coleman, who had to resign. Jennifer Lau-Bond and Valli Hoski will also be leaving the subcommittee after ALA Annual. Jared Hoppenfeld will continue on as Co-Chair and be joined by new Co-Chair Christine Tobias.

The group has fully set up the VRC in Drupal and has moved on to major content creation and updating. In order to expedite the work, we divided into two subgroups. Each subgroup meets separately and works on one module at a time, incorporating the decisions of the larger group. Then, we hold an all-group virtual meeting approximately once a month to update everyone on progress and plan the next steps. Currently, we have finished the Planning and Technologies modules, and the Skills module is nearing completion. Next, we will be tackling the Marketing module and one other module to be determined.

We will be holding an all-group virtual meeting for ALA Annual. Subcommittee members attending ALA Annual in person will also meet during the RSS Open House & All Committee Meeting on Saturday, June 29 at 8:30 A.M. at mcCormick Place Convention Center, room N226. We will have further details about the VRC and what we have done for all those interested.

Jared Hoppenfeld, Co-Chair 2012-2013

Jennifer Lau-Bond, Co-Chair 2011-2013

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.