From the President

President’s column

To begin this issue of RUSA Update, I’d like to highlight some of the not-to-be-missed events that will be taking place at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. Whether you are a new member or you have been involved in RUSA for many years, these events are sure to peak your curiosity and engage your interests.

ALA Midwinter Events

[Free!] Genealogy Institute: Meeting the Needs of Your Family History Patrons:
Friday, January 30, 2015 – 8:30am to 4:00pm; Enjoy an interactive day of learning and networking for all librarians serving genealogists. Leaders from the library and genealogical industry will cover a variety of topics, including strategic planning, partnerships, and serving diverse populations. Luncheon provided by our sponsor, ProQuest. Registration is free, but required. Limit 150 participants. Find the link to register at

RUSA President’s Program Discussion Forum:
Saturday, January 31, 2015 – 10:30am to 11:30am; Get a preview of the 2015 RUSA President’s Program by taking part in a thoughtful discussion about the themes in danah boyd’s book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (available for free download at We’ll discuss implications on privacy, information seeking behaviors, and library service of the future. Even if you haven’t read the book, feel free to join us for what is sure to be a wide ranging discussion on how libraries can best serve teens. This discussion is organized by the 2015 RUSA President’s Program Planning Committee and the RUSA Just Ask Task Force.

We are very excited to be able to announce that danah boyd will be our 2015 RUSA President’s Program speaker at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco! danah boyd is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and is a 2008 PhD graduate of the School of Information (iSchool) at the University of California-Berkeley. Her research focuses on the intersection between technology and society and she blogs at Mark your calendars now – the RUSA President’s Program will take place on Saturday, June 27, 2015 from 4:00 to 5:30 pm.

RUSA Leadership Development and Speed Mentoring Session:
Saturday, January 31, 2015 – 3:30pm to 5:30pm; Join a group of experienced RUSA leaders and engage in a fun, interactive “speed mentoring” session. Similar in format to “speed dating”, MLS students, new librarians, and mid-career librarians are invited to participate in this session where they will have the opportunity to gain leadership advice from a number of senior librarians and RUSA leaders.

RUSA Membership Social:
Saturday, January 31, 2015 – 5:30pm to 7:00pm; Kick off the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting in style with the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Membership Social—an opportunity to eat, drink, network, win door prizes and learn more about RUSA. The social is open to all ALA Midwinter attendees! RUSA members are encouraged to bring their friends and anyone interested in learning more about the association and networking with peers. All attendees will have the opportunity to win fantastic door prizes!

Book & Media Awards Ceremony and Reception:
Sunday, February 1, 2015 – 5:00pm to 6:30pm; The highly acclaimed Chicago author, Margaret Hawkins will be our feature speaker and kick off our premier awards event for adult reading and reference. We’ll unveil the winners of The Reading List, Listen List selections—lists that are used by readers advisory librarians nationwide, Notable Books, which forms the basis for the Carnegie Medals Longlist —as well as the winners of the Dartmouth Medal for reference, the Sophie Brody Medal for Jewish literature, the Zora Neale Hurston Award for achievement in promoting African-American literature and the Louis Shores Award for book reviewing. All ALA Midwinter Meeting participants are invited to this celebration on-site in Chicago. Can’t attend? For the most up-to-date announcements, follow the event on Facebook and track it on Twitter with hashtag #literarytastes.

Discussion Forums/Discussion Groups:
The RUSA Sections (BRASS, CODES, History, MARS, RSS, and STARS) are organizing open discussions on a number of timely and relevant topics. All registered ALA Midwinter attendees are encouraged to drop in, listen, learn, and contribute. These include Hot Topics: Augmented Reality, the Genealogy and Local History Discussion Group, the Future of Reference Education for Librarians, and STARS Hot Topics – to name a few.


Keep in mind that except for meetings involving awards or nominations, most other meetings are open, meaning that anyone registered for ALA Midwinter may attend. Visiting a meeting can often be a great way to learn about the work being done in a certain area and meetings of some groups may allow you to demonstrate your own interest in a topic. The RUSA Board will be holding two open meetings at Midwinter, on Saturday, January 31 from 1:30 – 3:30 pm and on Monday, February 2 from 2:00-4:00 pm.

Online Courses – attend where you are!
More and more of our members are taking advantage of our online learning opportunities. Make sure to check out RUSA’s great selection of continuing education courses that will be offered over winter/spring 2015. These include the ever-popular Business Reference 101, Genealogy 101, Readers Advisory 101, Xtreme Bibliographic Searching for Interlibrary Loan & Reference, Introduction to Spatial Literacy and Online Mapping, and – available for the first time – Introduction to Economic Data on the Web. Find these courses and our upcoming and archived webinars at

Checking in on Strategic Planning
On September 15, 2014 the RUSA Review Task Force completed its work through the release of a final report, which can be found on ALA Connect at This was a vast project that took a great deal of coordination along the way. Credit for the success of the project goes to all of the members of the task force, but most significantly to co-chairs Chris LeBeau and Diane Zabel. The report now serves to highlight the key challenges and opportunities that RUSA faces as it strives to be a responsive and sustainable organization. It is now one of the primary research documents that is informing our Strategic Planning Process.

RUSA has contracted with Paul D. Meyer, President and Co-CEO of Tecker International, LLC to provide strategic planning coordinating and facilitation services. Paul has worked with large, complex and multi-system organizations as well as small community-based institutions, corporations, and nonprofits representing a variety of industries and professions. He has previously consulting services to several ALA divisions, including ACRL, ALSC, PLA, and YALSA. The members of the RUSA Strategic Plan Coordinating Task Force met with Paul for a Process Design session on October 25. The task force is now gathering and reviewing secondary research in advance of the creation of a new survey questionnaire that will be distributed electronically to the RUSA membership. The task force will then create draft core purpose and core value statements for review by the full RUSA Board. On Friday, January 30th, 2015 the full\ RUSA Board will participate in a day-long facilitated strategic planning discussion at ALA Midwinter in Chicago. This timeline will allow us to complete a new plan before the ALA Annual Conference 2015 in San Francisco.

That’s a brief summary to a substantial project for RUSA!

Best wishes to all of our RUSA members and may you have a wonderful winter!


Joseph Thompson
RUSA President 2014-2015

Senior Administrator – Public Services
Harford County Public Library
1221-A Brass Mill Road
Belcamp, MD 21017