From the President

President’s column

Greetings, RUSA members!  I was thrilled to see so many of you at the Midwinter meeting in Boston.  The conference was both productive and enjoyable for RUSA.  The Book and Media Awards ceremony on Sunday evening was a great success, thanks to the efforts of the RUSA staff and volunteers.  For the first time we announced the winners of the Carnegie Medal alongside our annual “best of” book and media lists.  This year’s Carnegie winners were Sally Mann’s Hold Still for nonfiction and Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer for fiction.  I am looking forward to hearing from both winning authors at our Carnegie event at the Annual Conference in Orlando, which will be held Saturday, June 25.  The winners of our other BMAs can be found on our RUSA News blog at  I’d also like to once again thank our award committees for their dedication and tireless work.

In other news from Midwinter, the RUSA Board approved the formation of a task force to propose a new name for our association.  I recently emailed my call for volunteers to the RUSA membership:

The task force grows from concerns that the name Reference & User Services Association no longer accurately describes the dynamic quality of the work that we do.  RUSA comprises a wide variety of interests and activities, including readers’ advisory, interlibrary loan, genealogy, user experience and all kinds of library public services.  Many of us once identified as reference librarians but recognize that reference is changing radically, and find ourselves wondering how best to brand ourselves and the services we provide.  As we consider ALA’s current Libraries Transform campaign, we are thinking about the transformations within RUSA’s membership and wanting to make sure that we as an association continue to support and represent our members’ needs and interests.  It is also important that our name speak to potential members.  The charge of the task force will be to determine name change possibilities and make a recommendation to the RUSA Board by the end of 2016.  In the course of recommending a new name for RUSA the task force will be considering larger issues of rebranding within RUSA and library public services generally, and will be invited to think beyond the standard library lingo.

I received a large number of volunteers in response to this message; I believe this is because these questions are pertinent not only to RUSA but to all of us in our everyday jobs.  I’ll be putting together the task force very soon and will be excited to see the results of this effort.  Any name change would need to be approved by the RUSA membership during the annual election, so everyone will have a chance to weigh in.

As a division president, I was invited to attend an all-day information policy workshop on Thursday at Midwinter.  The workshop was organized by Alan Inouye, Director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), and focused on how ALA’s leadership can be advocates for key information policy issues on the national and local scale.  During the day we heard from an impressive lineup of speakers including Marjory Blumenthal, executive director of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who described the “information policy triangle” comprised of the three key issues of freedom of speech, privacy and intellectual property/copyright and discussed how these play out in the areas of telecommunications and media policy, education and research funding.  Donna Scheeder, President of IFLA, spoke about the effects of globalization and how treaties and IGO policies impact information in the US.  Alan Fishel, senior counsel for the Policy Revolution! initiative managed by ALA OITP, described the qualities needed for effective advocacy, including confidence, clarity and concision.  We reviewed ALA’s National Policy Agenda and spent time in small group discussions to identify key issues and strategies for advocacy.  I found the day both informative and stimulating, and it has me thinking about how RUSA can provide advocacy and how advocacy should be a part of all of our jobs.

In my last RUSA update I wrote about our initiative to start interest groups in RUSA, with an invitation to propose an interest group as part of our pilot phase.  I’m happy to report that four pilot interest groups were proposed, approved and are underway.  If you are interested in being involved in any of these interest groups, please contact the convener:

Copyright, Faithe Ruiz (
The focus of the Copyright IG is on providing a forum for the RUSA community to exchange ideas relating to copyright law and its application, to strengthen communication and cooperation among RUSA members on issues relating to copyright, and to provide opportunities for growth and improved reference services.

Entrepreneurship, Steve Cramer (
Entrepreneurship has been a hot topic of reference and adult services librarians for some time now. The concept includes self-employment, starting a business, and starting a nonprofit (also called social entrepreneurship). For libraries, support of entrepreneurship can involve outreach, research support, providing spaces for innovation and collaboration, and connecting entrepreneurs to other local resources and support services.

First Year Experience, Douglas Hasty (
The purpose of this group is to share ideas and develop new connections for future collegiality and support. Topics for discussions include but are not limited to retention improvements, introduction to higher education research skills development, outreach, first generation students, international students, students enrolled simultaneously in high school and college (dual enrollment programs), reference services, etc.

Shared Collections, Tina Baich (
This Interest Group will focus on the topic of Shared Collections, which can encompass shared print initiatives, shared storage facilities, and prospective sharing of collections through cooperative collection development.

I’m excited by these interest groups and look forward to hearing about their work.  Thanks to the conveners for their efforts and visionary thinking, and to the Organization & Planning Committee, chaired by Beth German, for facilitating this process.

Please feel free to contact me any time at  I welcome your questions and comments.

Anne Houston
RUSA President 2015-2016