RSS Committee Reports

Discovery Services Committee (Formerly Catalog Use Committee)
Please join us in Las Vegas for a Discussion Forum on Discovery Services: “What’s Working, What’s Not and What’s Next?”

Sunday, June 29th, 3:00-4:00 PM, Las Vegas Convention Center, room N110

The first 15-20 minutes of this one-hour forum will begin with lightning round presentations followed by a Q&A. During the second half, presenters will rotate to start discussions about the themes of their presentations with each table.

Colleen Seale, Chair 2013-2014

Communication and Teaching at the Point of Need Committee
The Communication and Teaching at the Point of Need committee will have a virtual Annual meeting; the date and time will be announced on ALA Connect when decided. The committee has been working on a survey that will allow us to gather information to aid in planning programs, discussion forums, and professional development opportunities. Content and design of the survey have been finalized and we will begin gathering responses by mid-May. We plan to gather responses and complete an analysis with recommendations for next year by the end of June.

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

Discussion Forums Coordinating Committee
The Discussion Forums Coordinating Committee is pleased to announce that they will be hosting these discussion forums at Annual:

“Extreme Customer Service: Reference at Its Finest!”

Sunday, June 29, 1:00-2:30 PM, Las Vegas Convention Center, room N117

What can truly set reference apart from Google and other online information providers? What can breed patron loyalty and ensure return visits? Service! A library’s customer service can have a staggering impact on customer satisfaction and retention. Join with colleagues to share real world examples of extreme customer service—wonderful as well as woeful—and to learn practical tips for improving your service and making your reference service invaluable. Facilitator: Jeanne Holba Puacz, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

“Readying Reference: Training for Public Service Reference Providers”

Monday, June 30, 8:30-10:00 AM, Las Vegas Convention Center, room N120

The importance of interactions with users of a library’s reference services (online and in person) cannot be overstated. If the user has a good experience, they will be back when they have another question. A bad experience, and that’s the end of it. Library literature supports the idea that training of reference providers and setting standards of service is a crucial component in the process of bringing new staffers up to speed and making sure they are upholding the library’s service mission. Gather with other front-line reference providers and managers to discuss what reference training currently looks like and brainstorm new ideas for innovative training in the future. Facilitators: Geoff Johnson, University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas at Austin and Joe Dobbs, University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas at Austin.

Crystal Lentz, Chair 2013-2014

Education and Professional Development for Reference
We have completed the first phase of our research into the state of reference education in the United States and Canada. We have determined whether or not a basic reference course is required for students at ALA-accredited library schools and if more specialized reference courses are offered. As we move into Phase Two of this project (in which we will analyze our findings and seek more information on the general reference course and overall curriculum from ALA-accredited institutions), we hope to gather as much information as we can before the Annual Conference.

As we move toward the third phase of the project, we want to hear from fellow reference professionals about what you would like to learn about the state of reference education and what you feel is important to investigate.

If you care about the state of reference education, or want to know more about it, please come to the RSS Education & Professional Development for Reference Committee discussion forum at Annual 2014: “State of Reference Education: What We Have Learned And What Would You Like To Find Out?” on Monday, June 30 from 10:30-11:30 AM, in the Las Vegas Convention Center, room N263C

At this discussion forum, we will share the preliminary summary of findings on general reference education from ALA accredited programs. We would love to hear from practitioners what is important in current and future reference education.

Check the conference schedule for any last minute room change.

Organized by the Education and Professional Development for Reference Committee, Reference Services Section (RSS), Reference and User Services Division (RUSA). Stay tuned for future plans on this project and ways to participate.

Joseph Yue, Chair 2013-2014

Evaluation of Reference and User Services
At the end of January 2014, Evaluation of Reference and User Services (ERUS) sent out a survey looking at reference service models and evaluation of service. At the close of the survey, we received a very large number of responses. Analysis of the results, as well as decisions on the best way to disseminate the findings will begin in this month. The committee is considering a discussion forum for Midwinter 2015 on the same topic, with the hope that the survey results can be incorporated or used to inform the discussion.

The ERUS committee meeting will be held during the RSS Open House and All-Committee Meeting on Saturday June 2 from 8:30-10:00am in the Las Vegas Convention Center, room N113

There will be no other events for ERUS.

Jason Kruse, Chair 2013-2014

Health and Medical Reference Committee
The Health and Medical Reference Committee met at ALA Midwinter Meeting. Due to the intensiveness of the work on the Health and Medical Reference Guidelines, work in all other areas has been put on hold. The committee met with the liaison from the RUSA Standards and Guidelines Committee about the progress with the Guidelines. A draft is expected to be given to the Standards and Guidelines Committee by the 2014 ALA Annual Conference for initial review.

Karen Vargas, Chair 2012-2014

Job and Career Reference Committee
“Community Needs, Reference, & Assessment in Job & Career Reference”

Saturday, June 28, 2014, 1:00-2:30 PM
Las Vegas Hotel, Conference Room 09

Large and small libraries hold a variety of programs for job seekers—regular classes, one-shot sessions, traditional reference services, reference appointments and others. How do libraries and information providers determine the needs of the community and which services and programs to offer? How do they assess outcomes? Come join the RSS Job & Career Reference Committee for a discussion of various strategies for best serving communities large and small.

The RSS Job & Career Reference Committee is also about to launch a needs assessment for librarians interested in career reference resources and information. This will be advertised via various means and we invite all interested in this subject area to participate.

Kate Oberg, Chair 2013-2014

Library Service to an Aging Population
Library Services to an Aging Population met March 24. The committee is working to update its Guidelines for Serving Midlife and Older Adults, which will be discussed at length on Saturday, June 28 at 3:00 PM.

The group is also finalizing details for its ALA program, “Creative Aging at Your Library,” scheduled for Sunday, June 29 from 10:30-11:30 AM in the Las Vegas Convention Center, room N243. We look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!

Abigail Elder, Chair 2013-2014

Management of Reference
The RSS Management of Reference Committee sponsored its first e-forum, where a total of 220 librarians registered to discuss new models of reference on May 6 and 7. Over the course of the two days, we had about forty librarians actively participate and engage in discussing how reference has changed and what institutions are doing to stay current. This is the introduction from our first day:

Reference services have evolved over the years, and current best practices inform the broadening of library services by building relationships with campus units and cross-training staff to create a synergistic combination that redefines the research experience of our faculty, staff and students by meeting them where they are. This concept expands the boundaries of the traditional library and calls for a reconfiguration of spaces, resources, and services focused on supporting the learning needs of our community.

In this e-forum we’d like to spend some time discussing each of the following subjects: new staffing models (including technologies), new methods of delivery (including technologies) and your success stories and tips to take away. Responses revolved around training, staffing models and statistics to help make decisions and determine how to best repackage existing services as desks are merged, librarians step away from the desk and new technologies assist us in new delivery methods.

Cinthya Ippoliti, Chair 2013-2014

Marketing and Public Relations for Reference Services
The Marketing and Public Relations for Reference Services Committee will be hosting a discussion forum, “The Soft Sell: Sales Skills for Librarians,” at Annual on Sunday, June 29 at 10:30-11:30 AM in the Las Vegas Convention Center, room N220. Our discussion forum will be facilitated by Nathaniel King (Director of Library Services at Nevada State College) and Jaqueline Solis (Coordinator of Liaison Services for Subject Librarians at the University of North Carolina). They will be lead a conversation about the SALES technique for promoting library services that provides a method for having conversations with community members and stakeholders about the value of library services. Specifically, the technique emphasizes understanding problems faced by patrons or potential patrons and demonstrating how the library can help solve those problems. They will do a brief presentation on the technique and then lead a discussion so that attendees can think about how they would apply the technique to their own libraries.

Jessica Hagman, Chair 2013-2014

Research and Statistics Committee
The Research and Statistics Committee of the Reference Services Section of RUSA will be presenting 20th Reference Research Forum at ALA on June 29th from 10:30-11:30 am. The Research and Statistics Committee employed a double-blind method to choose three groups of speakers on a variety of topics.

Our first speakers from OCLC will be focused on the data deluge and librarians’ experiences with data services in “Building Relationships for the Effective Development and Delivery of Research Data Services,” presented by Ixchel Faniel, Lynn Connaway, and Kendra Parson. This presentation is based on an analysis of interview data collected from thirty-six librarians. A major objective of the study is to explore librarians’ early experiences in developing and delivering research data services in order to consider how their experiences and the services can be improved. By opening an early dialogue about the opportunities and challenges associated with library-provided research data services, we aim to consider practical, effective approaches to the development and delivery of such services within the academic community.

Our second set of speakers from SUNY College at Old Westbury will be focused on student tech usage and trends. In “College Student Tech Usage: A Recent Survey of Trends”, Curt Friehs and Jason Kaloudis will present findings of a survey of undergraduates to gain a better understanding of motivating factors behind tech adaptations. The perspective of the Millennial college student provides insights into the desires and needs of the younger generation.

Our final group of speakers from the University of Missouri will focus on Libraries and the Affordable Care Act. Jenny Bossaller and Guinevere Lawson will be sharing the results of discussions with librarians across the United States regarding their involvement with the Affordable Care Act. This exploratory study will provide context for libraries’ actions or inactions that are a result of the law’s uneven implementation, differing community needs, and the attitudes of the community and librarians. The Research and Statistics Committee is also hard at work in gathering and vetting annotations for the Annual Reference Reviews as well and will be sharing the results of their research before the ALA Annual.

Ava M. Iuliano Brillat, Chair 2013-2014

Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee
The Virtual Reference (VR) Tutorial Subcommittee continues to work on the Virtual Reference Companion (VRC) with the goal of completion by ALA Annual 2014. The group meets monthly (including our recent Virtual Midwinter Meeting on January 31) and works in subgroups between meetings.

To date, the Subcommittee has completed seven modules of the VRC and recently decided to remove the Information Literacy module since much of the relevant information can be found in the Skills module. We are in the finishing stages of the eighth and final module, Staffing/Partners, with completion expected in late May.

In addition to being accessible from the Hot Links section of the RSS Virtual Reference Committee page, and the Professional Tools section of the RUSA Resources page, the VRC is now linked in the Web Resources section of the ALA Library Fact Sheet 19: Virtual Reference: A Selected Annotated Bibliography .

After four years of hard work, the Subcommittee is looking forward to presenting the VRC at the MARS Virtual Reference Discussion Group meeting to be held at Annual, Sunday, June 29 at 10:30-11:30 AM at Paris Las Vegas in the Chablis Room. One section of the VRC contains Tips & Best Practices and we will actively seek input and feedback from audience members at this event. In addition, we encourage RSS members to contact Jared Hoppenfeld at or Christine Tobias at to share tips and best practices in virtual reference.

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

Young Adult Reference Services Committee
Young Adult Reference Services Committee (YARS) YARS is in the news! Based on our Midwinter discussion forum, the best-practices article “How Understanding Teen Brain Development Can Help Improve YA Reference Services” has been published in the Spring 2014 issue of Young Adult Library Services, the official publication of YALSA.

YARS is also preparing for Las Vegas, where we will host a discussion forum on Homework Help in libraries – a controversial topic on which some libraries are divided. We will gather information on best practices in order to make a recommendation as to what level libraries should expect to offer in-house homework help to their students. The discussion “Of *Course* it’s Due Tomorrow: What is the Appropriate Level of Homework Assistance in Libraries,” will be held Sunday, June 29, 2014 from 10:30-11:30 AM, in the Las Vegas Hotel, Ballroom G.

YARS will be meeting in-person at Annual during the RSS All-Committee Meeting.

Allyson Evans, Chair 2013-2014

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.