Jane Daugherty, Editor   


RSS has had an active year. The various committees held several discussion forums and programs over the course of the year, including a very well attended discussion forum on reference education for librarians, a program on the effect of the Common Core on librarians, and the 20th Reference Research Forum. The coming year promises to be an equally exciting programming year. The Education and Professional Development for Reference Committee along with the ETS UX Committee will be holding a “Deep Dive”, a new ALA programming initiative, at Midwinter. RSS is also collaborating across ALA. The section is co-sponsoring a program proposal with the Continuing Resource Section in ALTCS on the topic of a conversation between public services and technical services staff. At this time, we are awaiting word if the program has been approved. The committees have also provided alternative programming outside of the conferences. The Management of Reference committee hosted an e-forum on “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 community by meeting them where they are.” In the summer, the joint ETS/RSS Virtual Reference Services committee is hosting an e-forum on the current state of virtual reference.

The committees have also worked in areas outside of programming. The Health and Medical Reference committee has updated the guidelines for the provision of health and medical reference which were approved by the RUSA board at Annual. At the request of the Library Services to the Spanish Speaking, the RSS Board voted to change the committee’s name to the Committee on Multilingual Library Services. In the coming year, the committee will be working to update its guidelines. The section as a whole will be going through section review in the 2015-16 year and will use this opportunity to review the work of the sections.

Qiana Johnson

Chair, Reference Services Section, 2015-2016

Communication and Teaching at the Point of Need Committee
The Communication and Teaching at the Point of Need Committee held a one-hour discussion forum at the ALA Conference in San Francisco. The forum included an overview of the results of Committee’s recent survey on point of need service and instruction that identified both challenges and opportunities. Dr. David Schwieder, Political Science Liaison Librarian and Coordinator of Humanities and Social Science Data Services at the University of Florida, followed with a brief presentation on one of the challenges identified in the survey, “Frameworks for Data and Statistics Reference.” Table discussions on this and other topics were held during the remaining time.

Colleen Seale, Chair 2015-2016

Virtual Reference Companion Subcommittee
The Virtual Reference (VR) Companion Subcommittee will hold its first meeting of 2015/16 on August 5, 2015. The committee has five new members this year, and will be reassigning responsibilities for keeping all the modules of the VRC up to date and useful.

The Subcommittee got approval through the RSS Board for changing its name to the Virtual Reference Companion Subcommittee on July 20, 2015. The name change should be reflected soon on the ALA web site.

The Subcommittee once again this year will be soliciting tips and best practices to be incorporated into the “Tips and Best Practices” section of the Virtual Reference Companion from all librarians who provide virtual reference. RSS members may submit suggestions for this content by leaving a comment on ALA Connect ( or by sending an email to one of the co-chairs, Laura Friesen (, or Neal Pomea (

The VR Companion is accessible at, as well as in the Hot Links section of the RSS Virtual Reference Committee page, the Professional Tools section of the RUSA Resources page, and in the Web Resources section of the ALA Library Fact Sheet 19: Virtual Reference: A Selected Annotated Bibliography.

Laura Friesen, Co-chair 2015-16
Neal Pomea, Co-chair 2015-16

Health and Medical Reference Committee
The Health and Medical Reference Committee (HMRC) chair, Laura Haines, attended the RSS All Committee Meeting and Open House on Saturday, June 27th at ALA Annual 2015 in San Francisco. While no other Health and Medical Reference Committee members were able to attend, it was a good chance to get updates on RSS, to meet other chairs and members of RSS, and to be able to put a few faces to names!

On Sunday, June 28th, HMRC members Laura Haines, Karen Vargas and Qiana Johnson introduced the new Health and Medical Reference Guidelines during the HMRC’s Discussion Forum: Get to Know the New RUSA Guidelines for Health and Medical Reference Services. Karen and Laura introduced the Guidelines, and then a conversation followed. Most attendees were academic librarians, and all believed the new Guidelines would be helpful for assisting those who work at the reference desk, especially student workers who are sometimes reluctant to field health-related questions. It was noted that the trend in academic libraries is to have para-professionals or students staff reference desks, or to close reference desks and move reference interactions to a circulation or main desk. This trend puts a fair bit of responsibility on paraprofessionals and students, and support from guidelines such as these may become quite useful, attendees thought.

On Monday, June 29th, at ALA Annual 2015 in San Francisco, the Health and Medical Reference Guidelines were approved by the RUSA Board of Directors. They can be found on the RUSA Website here:

Laura Louise Haines, Chair 2015-2016

Discovery Services Committee
This year’s RSS Discovery Services Forum, titled “Examining Discovery Systems within the New Information Literacy Framework” featured three informative speakers and welcomed over 100 attendees. The session was held on Sunday, June 28th, from 3-4pm and was co-sponsored with the Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT). The featured speakers included Holly Luetkenhaus of Washington State University Libraries with the presentation “Teaching Strategic Searching Practices in Discovery Systems,” Elise Ferer of Drexel University Libraries with the presentation “Discovering that Authority is Constructed,” and Cody Hennesy of UC Berkeley Libraries with the presentation “The Universal Library & the Economics of Discovery: Teaching Discovery.” The first half of the forum included brief presentations that were followed by Q&A. Next, tables of 4-8 people were encouraged to discuss a set of discussion questions related to the theme of the forum. Feedback ranged from good to excellent and included comments such as, “Thank you so much for addressing this important topic!” and “We all seem to be green with the Framework and Discovery- let us keep discovering it.” To review the PPT slide presentations from the forum visit the RSS Discovery Services Committee’s ALA Connect page ( The Discovery Services Committee welcomes the members Cynthia Johnson and Lesley Looper and welcomes back members Steve Brantley and Sue Dittmar.

Anne Larrivee, Chair 2015-2016

Research and Statistics Committee
This year, the Research & Statistics Committee hosted the 21st Annual Reference Research Forum on Sunday, June 28th at the Moscone Conference Center in San Francisco. After a double-blind review process, the committee selected 3 research teams to present their results. Frans Albarillo from the City University of New York presented the results of a survey of immigrant and international student research habits to investigate common patterns and to explore how these students experience the academic library. Marianne Colgrove and Annie Downey from Reed College presented the results of a needs assessment to address the gap between faculty and student perspectives on the research process, focusing on the critical sophomore and junior years. The result of a collaborative project between IT and the Library, their presentation shared the fruits of collaboration and assessment that can in turn be used to develop new research curricula and services. Finally, Jean Amaral from the Borough of Manhattan Community College presented the results of a year-long ethnographic study, likening the library to an endangered species and revealing the environmental conditions affecting the change and survival of the community college library. Each presentation garnered a number of interesting questions. The committee also reviewed and posted an annotated bibliography of articles relating to reference research for the 2014 Annual Reference Research Review. – See more at:

Ava M. Brillat, Chair 2015-2016

Committee on Multilingual Library Services (formerly the Library Services to the Spanish Speaking Committee)
I am happy to report that the RSS Board approved changing our committee name from Library Services to the Spanish Speaking Committee to the Committee on Multilingual Library Services at Annual. A change in charge accompanies the change in name and next up is updating guidelines.

Crystal Lentz, Chair 2015-2016