RSS Committee Reports

Catalog Use Committee
The RSS Catalog Use Committee is applying to the Board to change the Committee’s name and to revise its charge. We will not be meeting at Midwinter but will be meeting virtually and will plan a discussion forum for the 2014 Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

Colleen Seale, 2013-2014 Chair

Communication and Teaching at the Point of Need
The Communication and Teaching at the Point of Need committee met on October 23 to review its goals and direction for the future. We decided to continue with our plan to survey relevant communities with the objective of using the data gathered to build a portfolio of best practices and created a timeline for completion. The committee will review the survey at our Midwinter meeting in January and administer it in February 2014.

Julie Housknecht and Holly Wilson, 2013-2014 Co-chairs

Discussion Forums Coordinating Committee
SKYPE? Face Time? Why Has Face-to-Face Not Been the New Wave in Digital Reference?

Saturday, January 25, 1:00-2:30 PM

Face-to-face communication utilizing mobile devices has become increasingly popular thanks to front-facing cell phone cameras and other technologies, yet literature written about offering video reference services concludes that such services are not heavily utilized. Join with colleagues to share your own experiences with video chat reference, ideas for marketing the services, and whether or not you believe what the literature concludes is true. Facilitator: Benjamin Andrus, Binghamton University

Patron-Centered Reference Librarianship: Using Patrons’ Interests to Motivate Information Literacy Learning
Sunday, January 26, 8:30-10:00 AM, Pennsylvania Convention Center-115 C

Although it is widely acknowledged that library education should be patron-centered, serious discussions of patron-centered reference librarianship are virtually non-existent. Now is your chance to be part of just such a discussion. Gather with colleagues to share best practices and strategies for engaging users in patron-centered learning at the reference desk. What does patron-centered learning mean to you? What strategies do you use to connect with users at the reference desk? How can we motivate authentic learning within the context of reference? Learn from others and share your own strategies for connecting with users as unique individuals, not just information problems to be solved. Facilitator: Kevin Michael Klipfel, California State University, Chico

Crystal Lentz, 2013-2014 Chair

Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee
A team made up of members from Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee (ERUS) and Virtual Reference Services (VR) Committee, created a survey to assess the state of the profession in the provision of virtual reference services. The survey was sent out in September, and the analysis of results will begin soon. ERUS is also finalizing the questions for a survey looking at reference service models and evaluation of service. The survey will hopefully be ready to send out to listservs by the end of this year. ERUS will be meeting virtually after the Midwinter Conference.

Jason Kruse, 2013-2014 Chair

Health and Medical Reference Committee
The committee will host a discussion group during the ALA Midwinter Meeting called “Your Experiences with the Affordable Care Act.” The program will take place Monday, January 27 from 8:30-10:00 AM in the Pennsylvania Convention Center in room 105A. Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment goes through March 31, 2014. Come to this forum to discuss your library’s experiences: what has worked, what hasn’t worked, complaints, successes, surprises (both good and bad), and any other things about this process. A subgroup to rewrite guidelines for medical reference has met monthly to prepare a draft of the Guidelines. The committee will meet at ALA Midwinter to discuss the guidelines and other committee business on Sunday January 26 from 3:00-4:00 PM.

Karen Vargas, 2012-2014 Chair

Job and Career Reference Committee
The RSS Job & Career Committee held it’s first free webinar on Thursday, November 21: “Partnerships in Career Services @ Your Library: A Case Study at St. Paul Public Library”,

Description: Join the ALA RSS Job & Career Reference Committee for a presentation and discussion on the work of St. Paul Public Library surrounding their Mobile WORKplace, community partnerships, and other initiatives to assist their patrons with digital literacy and employment after a strategic planning process.

New Listserv
We are also launching a subject-specific reference listserv:

RSS Job and Career Reference Listserv. This is a subject-specific listserv that addresses Job and Career reference/public service delivery within a library setting (public, academic, corporate or special). Appropriate content includes relevant workshop offerings, reference questions & resource reviews. No vendor surveys.

We invite anyone with interest in the topic to join the listserv by sending an email to with SUBSCRIBE rssjcr-l firstname lastname in the subject of the message and leave the rest of the email blank.

For any questions or concerns please contact Kate Oberg.

Midwinter Discussion

RSS Job & Career Reference will be meeting virtually during Midwinter although they have an in-person discussion also planned entitled “Partnerships and Job & Career Reference: RSS Job & Career Reference Committee Discussion Forum.”

Description: There are many organizations involved in assisting job-seekers. How do libraries interact with community partners when offering library services to job seekers? Join the RSS Job & Career Reference Committee for a discussion and sharing of programs, strategies & techniques.

It is tentatively scheduled for: Saturday, January 25 3:00-4:00 pm

Nominations Requested
The Committee is also accepting nominations from ALA members for speakers on job and career reference. If you know a library system or librarian who has accomplished a great deal in job & career reference, that has strong presentation skills, and an interest in sharing with the wider library community, please email us. Send all nominations to committee chair, Kate Oberg.

Kate Oberg, 2013-2014 Chair

Library Service to an Aging Population
The RSS Library Services to an Aging Population continues to work on overhauling the Guidelines for Library Services to Older Adults, for which we are responsible. Right now, we are working on the reference and programming sections, with the goal of having a draft ready for our virtual meeting on January 16.

Abigail Elder, 2013-2014 Chair

Library Services to the Spanish Speaking
The RSS Library Services to the Spanish Speaking Committee, is trying to get the Board to approve a revision to our Committee’s charge so that our focus can be changed to immigrants, not just the Spanish speaking. The proposed revision of the charge reads: “To improve library services to immigrants of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds at the local and national levels.” We are a very small group at present and would really welcome more participation.

For more information about the committee please contact:

Dana M. Lucisano, 2013-2014 Chair

Marketing & Public Relations for Reference
The Marketing and Public Relations Committee met virtually in early October. We are exploring ways that libraries can work to promote the work of librarians in promotion for libraries overall. We will continue our discussion when we meet at Midwinter and are investigating possibilities for hosting a discussion forum at Annual. If you’ve seen any great examples of campaigns promoting the work of librarians or library staff, we’d love to see them. Please send to Jessica Hagman.

Jessica Hagman, 2013-2014 Chair

Recognition Committee
The Recognition Committee is soliciting nominations for the RSS Service Achievement Award.

This annual award is presented to an RSS member who has made either a sustained contribution towards attaining the goals of the Reference Services Section or a single significant contribution that has resulted in a positive impact upon the work of the section.

Anyone who wishes to nominate a Reference Services Section member for the award should do so by December 15. Please send a nomination letter to the award committee chair (Emilie Smart) detailing how the nominee has met either of the above criteria Questions regarding the award or nomination process should be directed to the committee chair.

Emilie Smart, 2013-2014 Chair

Research and Statistics Committee
The Research and Statistics Committee of the Reference Services Section of RUSA invites the submission of research projects for presentation at the 20th Reference Research Forum at the 2014 American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

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 Las Vegas, NV.

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 30, 2013. Notification of acceptance will be made by Monday, February 10, 2014.

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:
  3. Title of the project;
  4. Explicit statement of the research problem;
  5. Description of the research design and methodologies used, and preliminary findings if any;
  6. Brief discussion of the unique contribution, potential impact, and significance of the research.

Please send submissions by email to:
Ava Iuliano, Chair, RUSA RSS Research and Statistics Committee,

Ava Iuliano, Chair 2013-2014

Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee
The Subcommittee continues to work on the Virtual Reference Companion (VRC) with the goal of completion by ALA Annual 2014. The Subcommittee meets monthly and works in subgroups between meetings.

The Skills module was completed at the end of August and resources were added to the Resources section of the VRC. The remaining four modules to complete are Assessment, Professional Development, Staffing/Partners, and Information Literacy. The Subcommittee has divided into two subgroups to complete work on the Assessment and Professional Development modules by ALA Midwinter 2014.

The VRC is now live at It is also linked on the RSS Virtual Reference Committee page under the Hot Links section and on the RUSA Resources page under Professional Tools. We have requested to have it linked in the Web Resources section of the ALA Library Fact Sheet 19: Virtual Reference: A Selected Annotated Bibliography. The old resource is still available at

One section of the VRC has Tips & Best Practices and we seek input from RSS members. If anyone has words of wisdom to share on any of these or other topics related to virtual reference, please send them to Jared Hoppenfeld or Christine Tobias.

Jared Hoppenfeld, 2012-2014 Chair
Christine Tobias, 2013-2014 Chair

Young Adult Reference Services Committee
Young Adult Reference Services Committee (YARS) has gone through a busy year of transition. At the ALA Annual in Chicago this summer, the YALSA Board voted to conditionally make YARS a joint committee between YALSA and RUSA RSS, so long as its charge was rewritten to reflect its new joint committee status and approved by both divisions. Not only is the committee rewriting its charge, it is also overhauling RUSA’s Guidelines for Library Services to Teens to better align with YALSA’s Research Agenda. The committee will be holding an in-person meeting at Midwinter on Sunday, January 26 at 8:30 AM, at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown in Room 402. Following the meeting, YARS will host the discussion forum “The Teen Brain Construction Site: How the Adolescent Work-in-Progress Mind Shapes Information Seeking Behaviors” from 10:30-11:30 on Sunday January 26 at Midwinter; Pennsylvania Convention Center Room 204 C.

Allyson Evans, 2013-2014 Chair

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.