RUSA Committee Reports

Just Ask Task Force
At ALA Midwinter, the Just Ask Task Force met to discuss the follow-up to the Managing Changes to Reference Services delivered by Gail Griffith on December 4th, 2013 and the next steps. The registration went smoothly for the first webinar, and the 100 spaces were filled in less than a day. Sixty-seven people actually attended and registrants were from all types of libraries; mainly academic, but including twelve public librarians and nine special librarians as well as two students. The committee members and guests gathered agreed that we should work to increase the number of people from the smaller groups. Webinar attendees indicated a strong interest in having RUSA do more of these Webinars and suggested a variety of topics. Those most often listed include: a series of webinars on change management, a webinar on planning marketing and outreach, a webinar of case studies of innovative changes in reference in libraries other than their own, and a webinar on how to best show the value of the things they do.

The second of two Just Ask-sponsored webinars, “Got a Minute?: How to Prepare your Parking Lot Speech,” was on February 12. It sold out and attendance was strong; a recording to the webinar can be found here.

The Midwinter discussion followed on how to move forward with this information and create new programming that advances the charge of this task force.

  • Create a RUSA vision of the reference/ information professionals and the services they provide
  • Communicate that vision by advocating for reference librarians
  • Provide access and creative resources for librarians to engage in that advocacy

Several ideas were discussed by the members and guests present at the meeting, and the following three areas were seen as areas for the task force to move within the current charge which is somewhat broad.

  1. Clarify the charge of the Task Force to assure we are on course.
  2. Determine the feasibility of creating a National Reference Services Week or a Virtual Reference Day possibly in September.
  3. Create a RUSA online course that builds on the suggestions from the free webinars; and the data from the PEW report “How Americans Value Libraries in their Communities” The Committee will do a conference call this spring to flesh this out completely.
  4. Continue to develop the Ask Campaign based on the Maryland pilot project – discussion included creating posters kits like the READ Campaign only having the poster split diagonally and have a community member on one half and a reference librarian on the other half with a question and answer.
  5. The Online access to the two webinars already presented are available:

A meeting of the Just Ask Task Force at ALA Annual has been scheduled for Sunday June 29 from 1:00-2:30 PM, location TBD.

Diana Shonrock and Elizabeth Stephan
Just Ask Co-chairs