Jane Daugherty, Editor        RSS logo                  



Message from the Chair:

Hi everyone,

I hope all of you who attended Midwinter in Boston enjoyed yourselves and that your in-person and virtual meetings were productive.  The RSS Pancake Breakfast was a lot of fun and the discussion forums and deep dive that were sponsored or co-sponsored by RSS committees were well attended.  I’m sure our events in Orlando will be just as successful.

Committee chairs and some RSS Executive Board members have been hard at work over the last few months on the RSS Section Review.  The review is a two part process comprised of individual committee reviews completed by the committee chairs and an overall section review based on the committee reviews.  Thank you to all of the committee chairs for completing their committee reviews and an extra special thank you goes to Ann Brown, Liz DeCoster, Cynthia Johnson, and Amy Rustic for helping me write the section review.  The completed document, with an appendix containing all of the committee reviews, will be posted to ALA Connect after it is submitted.

Committee appointments are underway and we are looking for volunteers to fill spots on RSS and RUSA committees.  Amy Rustic, RSS Vice Chair, has started the appointment process and has been in touch with many of you already.  If you have not been contacted by Amy and you’re interested in volunteering for a committee, fill out the RUSA volunteer form here:

If you have questions, or would like to learn more about RSS and its committees, please feel free to contact me at or Amy Rustic at

Be on the lookout for information about the programs, discussion forums, and other RSS sponsored events at Annual as the conference draws nearer!

Crystal Lentz
RSS Chair, 2015-16


RSS Honor Roll
It’s that time of year! We want to recognize you and your contributions to RSS!

The RSS Honor Roll gives recognition to active RSS members who have served the section in three different capacities since its inception.

If you have been a member of three or more committees or discussion groups since RSS was established in 2004 and have not previously been added to the honor roll, please send your name and a list of the three ways you have served RSS to Ellen Keith at

Not only will you become a member of this esteemed group, you will also be recognized at ALA Annual in Orlando!

Join the RSS Honor Roll today


Communication and Teaching at the Point of Need Committee
The Communication and Teaching at the Point of Need Committee will be sponsoring a discussion forum at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando on assisting patrons at the point of need through social media. Details are below:

“Please Throw Me a Vine! Assisting Patrons at the Point of Need through Social Media”

Given the large and growing percentage of the American population that is now using social networking sites for communication, it’s likely that your patrons will pose questions and research challenges on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Join us for a discussion on how we can best communicate at this developing point of need.

When: Sunday, June 26, 3-4pm
Where: TBA

The Committee’s Selected Bibliography on Point of Need Reference and Instruction is available here:

Colleen Seale, Chair 2015-2016

Discovery Services Committee (Formerly Catalog Use Committee)
The Discovery Services Committee has been meeting virtually to discuss plans for the year and for ALA Annual.  As a committee we completed the RSS Self Study/ Section Review. Within this review we reflected on our purpose within the Reference Services Section and within the American Library Association. The Discovery Services Committee is the only one that specifically focuses on how cataloging and discovery service trends impact reference services.

Over the past several years we have hosted a bibliography of relevant reference/discovery & cataloging citations on ALA Connect. The committee decided that it would be best to conduct a review of the literature annually and explore ways to post the bibliography to the RSS website.

The committee also discussed plans to hold and RSS Forum at the 2016 ALA Annual Conference. The theme of this year’s forum is “Exploring Engagement between Discovery and the Catalog. This forum will focus on how the Library Catalog still an essential presence on most library websites and explore how it’s being used by reference librarians.

Anne Larrivee, Chair 2015-2016

 Evaluation of Reference and User Services
ERUS is working on our research project via survey.  We will:

  • Request screenshots or pdfs of their data collection forms to ascertain what info is collected and extrapolate what has changed from the hash mark days.
  • Get basic background info, such as type of library (academic, archive, medical, public, school, special, &c.) and how they use data (reporting, staffing decisions, hours, training, etc.).
  • Ask a few open questions such as: what’s the most useful thing you do with your data; what would you like to learn about your service, but do not currently measure; etc.
  • Code the submissions into categories and analyze the results.

Rebecca Graff, Chair 2015-2016

Health and Medical Reference Committee
On January 12, 2016 the Health and Medical Reference Committee (HMRC) held its virtual Midwinter meeting. In attendance were six current committee members and one new person who attended in hopes of learning more about the committee. Much of the time was spent preparing for the RSS section review, and the HMRC’s report to the RSS Chair. The committee discussed answers to proposed questions and Laura Haines, HMRC Chair, wrote and submitted the report to the RSS Chair shortly after the meeting. The Committee also discussed future leadership and membership. HMRC is happy to announce that member Ann Glusker has agreed to be the chair starting July 2016. The committee also has many members who will be leaving the group at that time. We encourage anyone who has any interest in health reference to check out this committee; exciting work and programming is continuing! If you have any questions about the work of the committee, please do not hesitate to contact Laura Haines at or Ann Glusker at

HMRC continues to work to promote our recently revised Guidelines as well as Medref, a health and medicine oriented listserv available to anyone answering health related reference questions managed by the Committee. The aim of the listserv is to be an open and welcoming environment for library workers from all types of libraries to discuss all questions or issues related to health and medical reference. Member Toni Holbrecht presented a “press release” about Medref to the Committee during the virtual Midwinter meeting that will be used in various venues to promote this exciting listserv.

HMRC has joined forces with ACRL’s Health Sciences Interest Group in offering a Discussion Forum at ALA in Orlando this July. The forum, entitled “Implementing Health and Medical Reference Guidelines: Training librarians, paraprofessionals and part time staff,” will highlight how the new Health and Medical Reference Guidelines can best be implemented in any type of library, including how to train professional as well as non-professional staff regarding what are often sensitive reference questions. More details to follow, but we hope all interested in learning more about providing excellent health reference will be able to attend.

Laura Louise Haines, Chair 2015-2016

Services for Job-Seeking Patrons
In the January 15, 2016, meeting the RSS Board approved changing the name of this committee from the Job and Career Reference Committee to Services for Job-Seeking Patrons. This change should clear up some confusion about the purpose of this committee.

On January 9, 2016, our committee held a discussion forum at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The discussion focused on assisting low-skill workers and non-Internet users with job searches. We had 23 attendees and a very lively discussion. Keyboarding, computer skills and access to computers remain an issue for many patrons. Limited literacy and English language skills are also commonly observed. The local government job center can often be a partner. In addition, it can be effective to be present at a multi-agency fair where multiple services are present.  Examples include kindergarten sign-up and registering for government assistance. A more detailed summary of the discussion is posted on ALA Connect for anyone who is interested.

Arlene Weismantel, Chair, 2015-2016

Virtual Reference Committee
The committee has been reviewing guidelines under its purview. The committee has recommended to the RUSA Standards and Guidelines committee that the Guidelines for Cooperative Reference Services be sunset. The committee is currently updating the Guidelines for Implementing and Maintaining Virtual Reference Services. The committee is also co-sponsoring a discussion forum at Annual with the Virtual Reference Discussion Group.

Qiana Johnson, Chair 2015-2016

Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee
The Virtual Reference (VR) Companion Subcommittee has been working on ideas for making the companion more useful and intuitive, suggested by new members of the committee. These include different formatting, for example including Tips and Best Practices as part of the main menu in the left margin of the page; and additional content, for example, distilling some of the articles listed in the bibliography in the Assessment module to create useful guidance in that module. The Subcommittee participated in the committee review process for RUSA/RSS, a process that happens every four years to ensure the effectiveness and ongoing usefulness of RUSA sections and committees. The Subcommittee has been discussing the possibility of co-sponsoring, with the VR Services Committee, the Virtual Reference Discussion Forum at ALA Annual coming up in June. 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. The Subcommittee continues to welcome suggestions for its Tips and Best Practices module; these can be directed to either co-chair, Laura Friesen (, or Neal Pomea ( or by leaving a comment on ALA Connect: (

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