President’s Note

Hello everyone! The ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans was a great time to get together for informative programs, exciting events, to meet new people, and to catch up with old friends. RUSA continued its excellent record of high quality programs with four preconferences, sponsored by BRASS, MARS, RSS, and History, and through many other section programs on topics such as readers’ advisory, virtual reference, assessment, and marketing. Highlights of the conference included the CODES annual Literary Tastes Breakfast and the annual RUSA Awards program where we were able to recognize outstanding members of RUSA.

Please join me in congratulating our newly elected officers of RUSA: Mary Popp, Vice-President/President-Elect; Patrick Wall and Doris Ann Sweet, Directors-At-Large; and Carolyn Larson, RUSA Secretary. Mary will be working to solicit volunteers for many RUSA level committees in the coming year so please consider volunteering. Congratulations also to all of our newly elected section officers! (A complete list is on the RUSA Blog).

During the coming year, RUSA will be developing its new three-year strategic plan with the broad goals of increasing membership; better meeting user needs and interests; facilitating member participation; and making the best use of RUSA committee and board meeting time. A taskforce has been set up with representation from each section to develop recommendations for how RUSA can structure itself to meet these needs, and we will solicit input from membership throughout the coming year. RUSA is also working on software and procedures to enable more virtual participation in programs, webinars and meetings. Please contact me with your ideas and suggestions on ways that we can continue to improve RUSA.

I would like to thank RUSA’s outgoing President, Barry Trott, for his leadership and for his guidance as I prepared to step into this role. I’d also like to thank the other members of the RUSA Executive Committee, Susan Beck, Kathleen Kern, and Theresa Mudrock, for all of the help and support. I’m looking forward to working with our outstanding Board in the coming year and would like to offer my thanks to RUSA members who offer their expertise through leadership and service in the many RUSA and section level committees. Finally, I’d like to give a special thanks to Susan Hornung, Executive Director, who continually keeps me on track and who makes sure that RUSA is running smoothly and efficiently. I also want to thank both Liz Markel, Marketing Specialist, and Andrea Hill, Web Services Manager, for all of their support. RUSA is able to function thanks to the hard work of these three people.

After serving in RUSA for nearly twenty years, I am continually impressed with our members’ passion for reference and user services and for the camaraderie and friendship that I see throughout the division. I am humbled and proud to have this chance to serve as President. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in Dallas in 2012!

Gary White
RUSA President

RUSA Committee Reports – Emerging Leader Report: News from Your RUSA Emerging Leader

Kate Kosturski


During one of the excessively hot days this week, my ever-entertaining morning weatherman informed me that “five months ago today, the temperature was 23 degrees with a wind chill of 17!” New York City weather swung from one extreme to another in little more than a quarter of the year. Clearly change can be sudden and extreme—and take place in a short time.

Can this be applied on a personal level? Indeed, and most definitely for me. In the six months of the Emerging Leaders program I went from part-time to full-time employment with JSTOR, now serve on several ALA committees, presented two posters (one of which was my Emerging Leaders deliverable), been published in Computers in Libraries (and soon to be in Reference and Technical Services Quarterly), and unsuccessfully ran for ALA Council. There’s been a laundry list of personal life changes, but listing them all would turn this into a twenty-page article.

The goal of all change is to learn from it, and I have learned throughout these six months. For starters, I have learned to work within a team again. Four months of unemployment and six months of working in a small consulting firm as the solo office manager render team work skills a bit rusty. There were times I did forget what it was like to work on a group project! But with patience and gentle, constructive criticism from group members and self-reflection, I was able to get back on track. It was like riding a bike—you may not get on a bike for years, but when you do, everything comes back.

Another lesson learned is the importance of reconnecting with your people. The job search, unemployment, three family crises in the latter half of 2010, and other issues led some of my involvement within ALA and librarianship slide. I made some time for certain events and projects, but lack of time and job search burnout led me to take a small sabbatical from professional development. Those who are unemployed and underemployed will agree that it’s hard to be “Yay Libraries!” when you’re spending day after day in your pajamas watching The Price is Right and living off of cereal because you’re not working. (I speak from 100 percent personal experience.) Being an Emerging Leader, surrounded by like minded peers whose ambition matched (and sometimes exceeded) my own, re-energized my passion for information. It was the kickoff workshop at Midwinter in San Diego that led me to run for ALA Council in the first place!

The third lesson on change is to accept its presence—to quote from one of my favorite movies, French Kiss, “swim in it until your fingers get all pruny.” One of my colleagues in the 2011 cohort gave the simple axiom that “life happens” as her biggest lesson from the program experience. Her group had several cases of personal and professional change affect the progress of their project (including, I think, someone affected by severe weather in the Midwest). Rather than fight it, they learned to work with it. If someone was behind on a deadline due to a family member being in the hospital or a hectic week at work, it was best to just let it go—the work will still be there when everyone returns to it, hopefully rested and in better mind. Their acceptance of crisis mode and understanding that life can intervene in critical and severe ways allowed them to adapt better. It’s nothing more than the old phrase, “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

A final lesson from my project experience—perhaps the most important—has nothing to do with change at all, and is quite counter to it: Stand up for your beliefs. Anyone who attended the Emerging Leaders poster session at the Annual Conference knew that my group (Team G), had a quite different, definitely edgy and potentially controversial giveaway with our poster. I was on board with this idea…until I got a full time job in April. I wasn’t comfortable handing this particular item out to co-workers or senior colleagues that attended. I did not feel it would be appropriate for me to do so, not with such a short tenure at the company. I advocated for having the more family friendly alternative of business cards, and successfully convinced my Emerging Leader colleagues of same. I could have kept my mouth shut and gone with status quo (again, accepting change!) but decided that certain issues and concerns were worth the fight.

If you attended the Emerging Leaders poster session, I wholeheartedly thank you for coming. If you stopped by to talk with Team G about our poster, accept more thanks from me. Whether or not you visited the Emerging Leaders at Annual, allow me to highlight some of my favorite projects:

  • Team B worked with ACRL to prepare ACRL 101, a “guide to enhancing the conference experience for first time attendees.” I loved this project not just because one of the dearest friends I made from the group (Megan Hodge), served on it, but because it will be useful for me when I attend ACRL as a full-fledged attendee in 2013.
  • Team I reviewed a favorite topic of mine, library website usability, showing off the “Seven Deadly Sins of Library Websites.” Usability and design thinking are so important in our profession, and I predict that this will grow in the future.
  • Team J worked with the Information Technology and Telecommunications Division to create a “Virtual Guide to ALA Deadlines”—any and all deadlines within the organization in one interactive timeline.
  • Team K and Team L both worked on projects for the Learning Round Table (LearnRT) relating to training and staff development—Team K built a wiki for staff development day resources, and Team L looked at ways to build a webinar series. I’m a semi-frequent guest on the T is for Training podcast and have sat through more than my fair share of subpar, weak training session at previous jobs. These experiences foster my interest in ways we can harness technology to improve training and staff development.
  • Team N, working with the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) worked to review LIS student recruitment to the organization within management courses.
  • And of course, there is Team G, my team project, a set of video game collection development best practices prepared for the Games and Gaming Member Interest Group (which became GameRT at ALA Annual).

This is just a small sample of the projects from our cohort, the full list is available on ALA Connect. I encourage you to take time and look at what the next generation of librarians has to say about these key issues. If you or someone in your workplace is interested in the Emerging Leaders program, please get in touch with me; I would love to talk at length with you about the program.

As my reign as RUSA’s Emerging Leader is now over, this will be my last “News from Your Emerging Leader” column. Consider this my final walk across the stage with the tiara on my head; it’s now time to crown my successor. I wish to thank everyone at RUSA—President Barry Trott and the Executive Board, leadership from sections, and members—for the sponsorship, networking and professional opportunities. You’ll still be hearing from me within and outside of the organization—I will be co-chairing the RUSA Structure Task Force, and if you’re active in the New Members Round Table, I’m working on two committees there.

I hope to see you all in Dallas and Anaheim in the coming year, and continue conversations in between conferences. The dialogue is so important to keep librarianship alive. After all, to quote Doctor Who, “”You want weapons? We’re in a library. Books, best weapons in the world. This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!” I can’t think of a better calling.

Kate Kosturski is the 2011 RUSA Emerging Leader and an Outreach Specialist with JSTOR’s Outreach and Participation Services Department. Contact her with questions or comments about this article at or You can also follow her on twitter as librarian_kate, and view her portfolio of pre-and post-graduate school work at

Message from the BRASS Chair: Hot Time in the City!

Carol E. Smith, Editor

Yes, I am talking about the ALA Conference in New Orleans June 24-28, 2011. Not only were the temperatures in the hot and humid range but the BRASS programs were sizzling as well!

Our “Business Reference 101” BRASS Pre-conference was well acclaimed by all who attended. And our other BRASS offerings were also top-notch and appreciated by all the attendees. We covered Small Business Financing, New Media at the Reference Desk, and Mining for Small Business Information, and ended the conference with our grand program covering the Business for Social Media. I am sure everyone left New Orleans with plenty of new information and some great new ideas to take back home.

In the next few weeks BRASS will be loading the BRASS program on social media and the publishers’ forum on Mining for Small Business Information onto the ALA website. Watch the BRASS website for more info and subscribe to BRASS-L for all the breaking BRASS news! Not a member? Not receiving BRASS-L messages yet? Click here to join BRASS or subscribe to BRASS-L.

Just as the conference attendees departed the Big Easy, so too, ends my time as BRASS Chair. It has been my distinct honor and pleasure to have served BRASS. It is an organization which offers us great opportunities to network, to collaborate with other business librarians and to learn even more about our field.

BRASS Chairs Past, Present and Future, From left to right: Mark Andersen (2010-2011), Chris LeBeau (2011-2012) and Ann Fiegen (2012-2013).




Chris LeBeau is the incoming 2011-2012 BRASS Chair and I know there are great things ahead for BRASS and all of the members.

Thanks for making BRASS such a great organization!

Have a great summer!

Best regards,

Mark E. Andersen
BRASS Chair, 2010-2011

BRASS Business Reference in Academic Libraries Committee

The committee had a very productive business meeting at ALA Annual in New Orleans and made plans to work on four projects in the coming year:

  1. Updating the AACSB Resource Guide on the BRASS website with new article citations and self-evaluation examples.
  2. Producing two new issues of the committee’s newsletter Academic BRASS.
  3. Planning the program for the BRASS Forum at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference.
  4. Designing a survey to identify business databases licensed by business schools rather than their campus library.

Input from BRASS members will be solicited on BRASS-L to help with collecting new AACSB self-evaluation examples, newsletter article submissions, and topic proposals for the BRASS Forum. If you are not participating in the BRASS-L discussion list, you can send your input on any of these issues directly to the committee chair, Lydia LaFaro, at

Lydia LaFaro, Chair 2009-2012

BRASS Business Reference in Public Libraries Committee

We are pleased to say that our committee planned and executive a wonderful program for the 2011 ALA Annual Conference. The Small Business Financing Forum was led by a panel of experts that included representatives from the Louisiana Small Business Administration and local financial institutions. They covered different kinds of financing available to small businesses around the country.

In other news, the committee plans to publish two new Public Libraries Briefcase issues by the end of the year.

Elizabeth Malafi, Chair 2010-2011

BRASS Business Reference Sources Committee

The Business Reference Sources Committee met at ALA Annual in New Orleans and selected three titles as outstanding, five titles as notable, and two titles as significant new editions. The Committee’s column with the list of titles and reviews will be published in the Winter 2012 edition of Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ).

The Committee thanks the members who finished their terms this year for all their contributions: Diane Campbell, Carol Fang, Ann Fiegen, Pauly Iheanacho, and Terry Zarsky.

Nathan Rupp, Chair 2010-2011

BRASS Conference Program Planning Committee

The BRASS Program for the 2011 ALA Annual Conference was “Business of Social Media: How to Plunder the Treasure Trove.” Scott Brown, Laurie Bridges, and Stephen Abram spoke about how businesses can successfully use social networking applications and how librarians can better position their services and collections to assist business users with leveraging their social capital. The committee extends their appreciation to Standard & Poor’s for their generous sponsorship of the breakfast.

One-hundred thirty-seven attendees participated for the first part of the program and eighty-seven attended the second portion of the program. Laurie Bridges demonstrated interactive social networking applications using Twitter as part of the program and, thanks to Betsy Clementson, program evaluations went virtual with a QR code that linked from smart phones to electronic survey forms. Christy Goodnight and Van Houlson handled recording of the full program. The video has been posted to the BRASS Section of ALA Connect for viewing by BRASS members. After six months, these files will be made available to the broader public.

Marketing for the program was well received and fifty-eight people “friended” the BRASS NOLA Business of Social Media Facebook page started by Jason Dewland. Members of the committee are writing an article to supplement the program that will be available in the winter issue of Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ).

Program committee members: Paul Brothers, Laura Carscaddon, Betsy Clementson, Julia Martin, Ed Hahn, Tony Lin, Mary Van Ullen, Jason Dewland, Ann Fiegen (Committee Chair), and Mark Andersen (BRASS Chair).

Ann Fiegen, Chair 2010-2011

BRASS Discussion Group Committee

The focus of this year’s BRASS Discussion Group was “New Media at the Reference Desk.” The meeting took place on June 26, 2011, at the Marriott New Orleans. The meeting was well attended and began with the BRASS business meeting, including announcements of the publisher’s forum, the BRASS program, the BRASS dinner, and a couple of business librarianship position openings. The meeting then continued on to a discussion of the impact that new media is having for business reference librarians. Discussion topics included how new media is complementing reference services, how it may be replacing other reference services, how it may be used to promote resources, some of the successes, and some of the challenges of using new media. The discussion shifted later in the meeting to include issues associated with online database resources. Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to a successful discussion.

Edward Hahn, Chair 2010-2012

BRASS Education Committee

The BRASS Education Committee is planning a new preconference for the ALA 2012 Annual Conference in Anaheim: “Mastering Business Acumen (MBA) in a Day: Business Concepts for Library Reference.” The last time we were in Anaheim, sixty librarians attended the Business Reference 101 preconference that focuses on business reference, business resources, and collection development. This new preconference will complement the Business 101 preconference and will provide librarians with a broad conceptual understanding of business support and business reference. We are expecting many participants.

We continue to update and improve theBest of the Best Business Websites (Free Resources) and the Selected Core Resources for Business Reference. Both resources can be accessed at

Committee members are currently writing reviews for this year’s winners of the Best of the Best Business Websites:

Chosen from our running list of over 120 websites in various disciplines, the committee is recognizing these three websites for the important and critical information they provide on employment and housing. Committee members’ reviews are scheduled to appear in the Winter 2011 issue of Reference & User Services Quarterly (RUSQ).

Please visit our ALA Connect page for more information about the BRASS Education committee.

Leticia Camacho, Chair 2010-2012

BRASS Emerald Research Award Committee

2011 BRASS Emerald Research Award Winners. Pictured from left to right: Ruth Heppenstall, Emerald Sponsor (attending in place of Emerald BRASS representative Eileen Breen); Todd Hines, 2010-2011 Committee Chair; award winner Diane K. Campbell; award winner Peter Jasco. Not included in the photo is Diane Campbell’s co-winner Ronald G. Cook.


The BRASS Emerald Research Awards are two $5,000 cash awards, sponsored by Emerald Group Publishing for ALA members seeking support in conducting research in business librarianship. The 2011 recipients of the award are:

1.  Peter Jasco, University of Hawaii
2.  Diane K. Campbell, Rider University Library, and Ronald G. Cook, Rider University

Todd Hines, Chair 2010-2011

BRASS Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Business Librarianship Committee

Nicolette Warisse Sosulski, this year’s winner of the Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Business Librarianship, is flanked by two of her proud nominators: Tera Moon (left) and Deb Thomas (right).


Our committee performed its work virtually, and selected a 2011 winner for the BRASS Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Business Librarianship: Nicolette Warisse Sosulski, business librarian at the Portage District Library in Portage, Michigan. Now we just had the final thrilling task of meeting her and applauding as she received her award at the RUSA award ceremony at ALA Annual in New Orleans.

Left to right: Gale Cenage representative David Forman and BRASS Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Business Librarianship: Nicolette Warisse Sosulski. 




Fellow committee member Bobray Bordelon and I were fortunate enough to attend the RUSA awards ceremony in the lovely and elegant Hotel Monteleone, and it was an inspiring and delightful experience to see all of those talented librarians be recognized! What a satisfying culmination of our committee’s hard work. It was also great to meet some of Sosulski’s supporters, nominators, and well-wishers. It was a wonderful evening.

If you would like to hear from our winner speak about her work and her experiences at ALA, here is a link to an interview done with her in New Orleans, appropriately filmed at Café du Monde:

Penny Scott, Chair 2010-2011

BRASS Gale Cengage Student Travel Award Committee

Left to right: Doreen Harwood, Committee Chair; 2011 BRASS Gale Cengage Student Travel Award winner Danielle Salomon, GSLIS student, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA); David Forman, Gale Cengage representative.



Congratulations to Danielle Salomon, the 2011 winner of the BRASS Gale Cengage Learning Student Travel Award. Soloman, a GSLIS student at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) was selected for this award due to her keen interest in business librarianship, as reflected in her internship at the University of Southern California Crocker Business Library, brand management background, student leadership opportunities, and other notable business-related projects. She stood out for her remarkable dedication, creativity, and passion for business and the greater community. Her rich business-oriented background, enthusiasm, and leadership ability uniquely qualify her for our profession and active participation in BRASS. Salomon’s Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California should also enhance her ability to provide excellent business reference service. The full press release can be viewed here.

Doreen Harwood, Chair 2010-2011

BRASS Morningstar Public Librarian Support Award Committee

Suzanne J. Kaller of Arapahoe Library District, Colorado, the recipient of the Morningstar Public Librarian Support Award, pictured with Morningstar representative Camille O’Connor and Committee Chair Patricia Kenly.



Suzanne J. Kaller was recognized at the RUSA Awards ceremony during the ALA Annual conference in New Orleans. She is the 2011 recipient of the BRASS Morningstar Public Librarian Support Award. This award, sponsored by Morningstar, offers $1,000 in travel funds to ALA’s Annual Conference. Suzanne attended the BRASS program on Monday, and looks forward to attending the 2012 conference in Anaheim next year.

The committee members are: Pinar Arcan, Naomi Hafter, and Patricia Kenly.

Patricia Kenly, Chair 2010-2011

BRASS Outstanding Service to Minority Business Communities

The Award for Outstanding Service to Minority Business was suspended for 2010-2011, but in 2011-2012 the committee looks forward to working with the Vendor Relations Committee and BRASS leadership on future plans for the committee. Possibilities include securing a new award sponsor, combining with another award committee, or another action. Stay tuned!

Heidi E. K. Senior, Chair 2010-2011
Lee Pike, Chair 2011-2012

BRASS Publications and Communications Committee

The BRASS Publications Committee hopes that everyone enjoyed the Master Schedule of BRASS events for the 2011 Annual Conference and found it useful. We plan to make publication of the Master Schedule an annual committee activity, and look forward to developing an even better guide to BRASS events for next year’s conference.

In other news, the committee wishes the best of luck to Hyun-duck Chung, our trusty BRASS Webmistress, as she moves on to a new position and new accomplishments. The committee is currently working with the BRASS Executive Committee to secure a new webmaster and expects to make an announcement shortly.

The committee requests that all BRASS committee chairs conduct a review of their committee web pages, and advise us if any updates or changes need to be made as we move into a new year of great BRASS accomplishments.

Carol Smith, Chair 2010-2012


Vicki Bloom, Editor


During the RUSA Annual Awards event several CODES awards were presented and several members of CODES won awards. The CODES awards presented included The Dartmouth Medal (presented by Barbara Bibel), The Louis Shores Award (presented by Megan McArdle), The Sophie Brody Medal (presented by Edward Kownslar), and The Zora Neale Hurston Award (presented specially by Zora Neale Hurston’s niece). CODES winners included Joyce Saricks who won the Margaret E. Monroe Award and Diane Zabel who won the Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award. Congratulations to everyone involved with CODES awards from the hard working committees, the talented authors, and our outstanding member-winners.

Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration Council

The Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration Council, the newest of CODES juried list awards, met virtually in July using RUSA’s new Go To Meeting program (we used the conference call feature). This new award selects the twelve best audiobooks published annually based on narrator performance. The list of winning titles will be announced at the Midwinter 2012 Book and Media Awards Reception.

Neal Wyatt, Chair

Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Forum

The fourth Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Forum was held at the 2011 Annual Meeting. An RA event, the forum featured talks by Nancy Pearl and Catherine Sheldrick Ross and a moderated discussion between Nancy and Catherine hosted by Joyce Saricks. A lively audience discussion followed. The theme of this year’s was “what we learn from our readers.”

Neal Wyatt, Chair

Readers’ Advisory Committee

The Readers’ Advisory Committee received word that their program proposal for ALA Annual 2012 has been approved. The program will be a panel discussion titled “RA for Town and Gown: Academic and Public Library Partnerships for Readers’ Advisory Service.”

Lucy M. Lockley, Chair

Reference Publishing Advisory Committee

The CODES Reference Publishing Advisory Committee sponsored a program at the Annual Conference in New Orleans, “eReference Publishing: Current Issues and Trends in Preservation.” Joseph, Yue, Chair of the committee, moderated the panel discussion. Speakers included:

  • Jacob Nadal, Preservation Officer, UCLA Library
  • Heather Ruland Staines, Sr. Manager eOperations at Springer Science + Business Media
  • Marie McCaffrey, Executive Director,
  • Ken DiFiore, Associate Director, Outreach & Participation Services,Portico

Jacob Nadal provided a broad discussion of preservation and how it relates to eReference. Three Core Issues in Preservation:

  • Reliable storage: What is the best way to store the information?  Backup vs. storage. Backup is the recovery of systems but the systems are subject to obsolesce and require maintenance.  Storage is for the recovery of content, which can be much more durable and technology independent.  Clouds, tape libraries, RAID arrays (inexpensive discs) are all viable.
  • Choosing formats and technology platforms: What is the best format and platform to store information? Open-source? Proprietary?
  • Planning for obsolescence: There will come a point when the digital materials we use today won’t be usable. It’s a problem, but not a pressing problem.

Bill McHugh, Chair

Message from the History Section Chair

Laura O’Niell Hibbler, Editor 

I am looking forward to the coming year as chair of the History Section. I would like to welcome all incoming committee chairs and new and returning committee members. We have had a great response for committee participation. I especially wish to thank those who responded to my call to be History Section representatives to RUSA committees. In my opinion, committee work is one of the most rewarding aspects to ALA and RUSA memberships.

Please review the list of History Section committee rosters on the History committee webpage. If you feel the information is incorrect please email me at If you would still like to volunteer to be on a committee, please fill out the volunteer form and then email me that you have done so.

Janice Schultz
History Chair


Mary Mannix, Maryland Room manager at Frederick (Md.) County Public Libraries, was this year’s recipient of the Genealogical Publishing Company/History Section Award for outstanding contributions to the History Section of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA). Pictured is Mannix getting her award from Joe Brickey of the Genealogical Publishing Company at ALA’s annual conference in New Orleans.

Historical Materials Committee Report

The Historical Materials Committee discussed the timing of the Best Historical Materials publication in Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) and decided to try to change the cycle so that the committee will have one meeting a year at annual and at that meeting can do some in person evaluation of sources. Two new chairs were selected: Nick Wyant (chair) and Jacob Sherman (vice-chair). The guidelines for constructing the list of best Historical Materials was reviewed to include both print and online resources.

Jenny Presnell, Chair

Message from the MARS Chair

Messages from MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference Section
Missy Clapp, Editor


We are looking forward to a wonderful year with MARS, the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section of RUSA! Change seems to be the only constant in reference these days, and MARS is no exception to the rule. As our environment changes, MARS is changing to meet the needs of its members. Before we look at what is ahead, let’s take a moment to reflect on the Annual Conference.

MARS and RSS hosted a very successful preconference, “Strange Bedfellows: IT and Reference Collaborations to Enhance User Experiences.” Guest speakers shared personal experiences to illustrate successful collaborations and overcome obstacles. This was an excellent preconference! Congratulations to all who participated in the planning! Special thanks go to Donna Scanlon and Carolyn Sheffield, the MARS and RSS Co-Chairs of the Preconference Planning Committee.

The MARS Chair’s Program, “It’s All About Them: Developing Information Services with User Experience Design,” was standing room only with 164 in attendance and more than 100 additional people who wanted to attend! Comments were very positive and included requests for a follow-up webinar. Thanks to the efforts of Courtney Greene, chair of the Program Planning Committee, Anne Houston, MARS Chair, the members of the Program Planning Committee, and the panelists—the program was a huge success!

Hot Topics and the Virtual Reference Discussion Group (VRDG) both held very interesting discussions. Hot Topics hosted a discussion forum, “How are We Measuring up? Using New Technology to Schedule, Standardize, and Assess Reference Services.” More than fifty people attended this lively and informative discussion forum. Special thanks to Matt Torrence who chaired the Hot Topics Committee! The Virtual Reference Discussion Group hosted a discussion forum, “Mobile Goes Both Ways: Using the iPad for Virtual Reference.” The session was well attended and very interesting. Many thanks to Amanda Powers who chaired the VRDG committee!

The RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee also sponsored an impressive program, “Behind the Text: Pulling Back the Curtain on Virtual Reference.” Thanks to the leadership of Ellen Filgo and Donald Boozer, co-chairs of the committee.

The MARS Happy Hour was another highlight of the conference. This year’s gathering was held at Mulate’s Restaurant. It was a wonderful way to conclude the day—great food, and great company! Congratulations and much gratitude to Arlie Sims for chairing the Outreach Committee that planned the MARS Happy Hour.

Each year, we recognize one member of MARS for his/her outstanding efforts and contributions to the section. I would like to acknowledge Linda Keiter for receiving the MARS Achievement Recognition Certificate, otherwise known as the “My Favorite Martian Award!” Linda was recognized at both the MARS Chair’s Program and the RUSA Awards Reception. Congratulations Linda!

Now let’s look ahead at a few upcoming changes for MARS. Two task forces were formed just after the Midwinter Meeting. One task force examined the feasibility of continuing the MARS/RSS preconference in the current economic climate. The other task force examined the presence of MARS during the Midwinter Meeting. The work of the Preconference Task Force resulted in the change of a six-year tradition: MARS and RSS will not continue the practice of hosting the Reinvented Reference Preconference in the immediate future. Instead, MARS and RSS will work together to produce workshops—based largely on the model set by STARS. All of the logistics have not been determined, but more will come in the months ahead.

The second task force examined whether MARS should continue to meet in person during the Midwinter Meeting, or if it would be better to meet virtually during Midwinter.  A survey was drafted and distributed to MARS members and those who are interested in MARS.  The survey revealed that most participants see the advantages of meeting in person while acknowledging that it is becoming harder for members to afford traveling to two conferences each year.  Based on this information, MARS will pilot a new model for Midwinter 2012.  There will be no MARS All-Committee meeting during the 2012 Midwinter Conference.  Only the elected members of the Executive Committee will be asked to attend the conference and attend the ExComm meetings.  Committee Chairs do not need to attend the Executive Committee meetings at Midwinter unless they would like to do so.  Of course, if a committee is hosting a discussion forum during Midwinter, enough committee members to run the discussion forum will need to be present.  If your committee would like to meet for planning purposes, please contact me ahead of time, and a room will be reserved for your meeting.  All committees will be asked to submit a report concerning the committee’s activities prior to Midwinter.  The Executive Committee will use the reports as the basis for ExComm discussions during Midwinter.

More details concerning Midwinter will be sent at a later date. The thing to remember at the moment is that you should not book your travel plans for Midwinter until you speak with your committee Chair and find out if your MARS committee is meeting during Midwinter. This is particularly important for those who attend Midwinter primarily for MARS committee meetings.

If you are interested in joining MARS or learning more about the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section, please contact us. We welcome all members, those who can meet in person as well as virtual members. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at

In conclusion, I would like to thank Anne Houston and Carolyn Larson, past chair, and past-past chair of MARS, respectively, for all of their help during my year as vice-chair. Your guidance was appreciated. I’d also like to thank all of the members of MARS for working together and continually striving to create venues that allow experiences and information concerning emerging technologies in reference to be shared.

Warm Regards,

Dianna McKellar
MARS Chair, 2011-2012

Best Free Websites Committee

When you surf the web do you discover great websites? If so… we need you! Join the MARS Best Free Websites committee and nominate those awesome sites for recognition from MARS. This is probably the easiest committee you will ever be a part of and it’s a lot of fun. Our work does not really start until after the new year and everything is done virtually via email. It’s low stress, minimal commitment and a great way to participate in RUSA. If you are interested, email one of our co-chairs.

Erica Swenson Danowitz, Co-Chair,
Donna Scanlon, Co-Chair,

Conference Program Planning Committee

Three dynamic speakers, babies, kittens, lots of laughs, just over ninety tweets and one very small (and very full!) room came together for a fun and informative program in this year’s MARS Chair’s program, “It’s All About Them: Developing Information Services with User Experience Design.” All told, 164 people attended, filling the aisles and open spaces, and more than 100 were turned away because of the size of the room.

The program began with the awarding of this year’s My Favorite Martian Award to Linda S. Keiter, Online Services Librarian at the University of Utah. Keiter has been an active member of MARS for many years, serving on numerous MARS committees including Continuing Education, Hot Topics in Electronic Reference Discussion Group, and the Future of MARS Task Force. Linda has also served as a representative for MARS on RUSA committees. Her colleagues in MARS note, “Linda has been a role model for dynamic leadership in MARS.”

Panelists John Blyberg (Darien Public Library, CT), Cody Hansen (University of Minnesota Libraries), and Jenny Benevento (Sears Holding Corporation) began the panel with a general discussion defining user experience (UX) design. Each then followed up with a short presentation highlighting UX from his or her unique perspective: Blyberg talked about the process of creating the UX department at his library, and the importance of creating a culture that places value on the user experience; Hansen thoughtfully outlined his experiences conducting user testing which have led him to conclude that we can add value for users and provide them with the best experience by carefully curating resources; and Benevento provided a strong finish to the panel discussing taxonomies and ROI—her humor and pull-no-punches style made for as provocative and lively a discussion on those topics as I’ve ever seen.

Participants were encouraged to tweet their questions and comments during the program (using the hashtag #marsUX), resulting in an active conversation. (One great comment by Richard Kong [@kongtemplation]: “@jennybento [Jenny Benevento] just gave one of the best presentations I’ve been to at any conference.”) Of those who responded to the program evaluation (n=45), 56% were from academic libraries, with nearly a quarter from public, and the other categories (special, vendor, other) making up the sum. All respondents agreed that it was a relevant program (84% strongly, 16% just agree). Everyone that completed the question agreed (and overwhelmingly, strongly) that the speakers were knowledgeable. All but eight respondents reacted negatively to the space.

The evaluations included some great comments as well. My personal favorites:

  • Delightful and intellectually stimulating program delivered w/a sense of humor
  • Humor was an excellent conveyance mechanism.
  • I was happy to finally see something *so* absolutely relevant.
  • Great balance of presenters and conversation.
  • GREAT panel! Best I’ve attended at ALA ’11.

Access the presenters’ slides via ALAConnect.

Thanks to everyone who attended, to our fantastic panelists, and to the awesome, hard-working committee who put the event together: Anne Houston, Carolyn Larson, Rosemary Meszaros, Suchi Mohanty, and Beth Overhauser.

Courtney Greene, Chair

Education, Training and Support and Committee

The Education, Training and Support and Committee is sponsoring a RUSA webinar on August 2 called “Introduction to Screencasting for Online Tutorials and Reference.” This webinar evolved from our program in 2010 at Annual in Washington, D.C. Our committee is using two of the same speakers and a member of ETS to moderate. This is the first RUSA webinar to be offered and in the future we will be offering our experience to other MARS committees wishing to develop webinars. For more information see the RUSA online training website.

Van Houlson, Chair

MERS (Management of Electronic Resources & Services)

Eight people attended the MARS MER meeting at ALA Annual in New Orleans. We have accepted two submissions for our virtual poster presentations, and will be advertising on Facebook and on academic listservs to ask for more proposals. The topic for the Virtual Poster presentations will be  “Reaching out to Patrons in Virtual Ways.” We met with the Hot Topics group and began planning for a joint session at Midwinter 2012 in Dallas; the topic will be: “Virtual Services to Move Beyond the Desk: What have we learned?” Incoming chairs for the committee are Matt Torrence ( and Lindsay Johnston (

Outreach Committee: MARS Happy Hour a Big Success in the Big Easy

MARS members, friends, and curious others gathered on Saturday afternoon of Annual Conference for the Annual MARS Happy Hour. Attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, drinks, music, and conversation. Sponsored by Serials Solutions, the party was held at Mulate’s, across from the Morial Convention Center. Between beers, stuffed mushrooms, and fried alligator nuggets, approximately ninety people chatted about the work of MARS while catching up with old friends and getting acquainted with new ones. Not a bad way to unwind after a busy day of meetings and programs! A special thanks goes out to Serials Solutions for their generosity and to all those who attended!

Arlie Sims, Chair

MARS Products & Services Committee

Change is good. Why do I say that? Within the last year, the charge for the Products & Services Committee has been modified. The committee now solicits and writes and/or posts reviews about emerging technologies in reference and user services, and I have no doubt that these reviews will be beneficial to public services librarians and their workplace. The products and services that are reviewed are considered “emerging,” meaning that they represent a new technology or trend that could have increasing uses or impact in the future. Recently the committee posted reviews on the official MARS blog for four discovery tools: Ex Libris Primo, OCLC’s WorldCat Local, EBSCO’s Discovery Services, and Serial Solutions’ Summon. The reviews looked critically at the capabilities and impact of each tool, with images of the search results, and contact information for each reviewer to help considering libraries decide on a discovery tool.

The products and services reviewed can be anything that helps plan, develop, manage, conduct, or deliver electronic reference or user services in libraries. This could include completely new products/services or new approaches to existing ones. Ideas for possible products or services to review as well as volunteer reviewers, who have direct experience with or knowledge of the product/service being reviewed, are always welcomed.

Please contact me, Yen Tran, chair of the Products & Services Committee, at with your ideas. I look forward to hearing from you!

Yen Tran, Chair

MARS Virtual Reference Discussion Group Planning Committee Update

The topic for the MARS Virtual Reference Discussion group at 2011 ALA Annual was “Mobile Goes Both Ways: Using the iPad for Virtual Reference.”

The presenter was Stephanie Graves, Humanities Librarian at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Libraries. She opened the session with a presentation about SIU-Carbondale Libraries’ use of iPads for roving reference and for operating IM services in non-traditional locations (for more details about this project, see the article in C&RL News she cowrote with Megan Lotts). Her presentation included a wealth of practical information as well as ideas for improving services. The practical information included a description of the genesis of the program, an explanation of how they set up and manage their iTunes account, an explanation of how they maintain the iPads, and a discussion of apps they have found particularly useful for serving patrons and for conducting their own work. She encouraged participants to visit SIU Carbondale’s iPads at MorrisLibGuide for additional information, including a list of apps installed on their iPads.

Group Discussion:
Following Stephanie’s presentation, the thirty-five attendees divided themselves among five tables to discuss possibilities for using iPads for roving reference at their institutions, recommendations for apps, challenges involved in maintaining iPads, strategies for using them for effective reference, and other ideas of interest to them relating to virtual reference. Table notes collected at the end of the session revealed that a wide range of topics arose at the five tables. Those topics included integrating tutorials for virtual (VR) use, developing customized library apps (vs commercial apps); staffing VR services, getting started with VR, mobile reference problems; looking at Springshare’s mobile application builder; problems with DropBox that developed during the conference and discussion of alternative products including Wuala; Lexis-Nexis new mobile app; using roving librarians to back up VR at the desk; problems with iPad docking stations; getting tech like iPads and eReaders for the staff to play with at Kansas State Libraries; QR codes use in museums and need for good wifi for their use; using Facetime for VR; apps for research (Papers, WorldCat, Blackboard app if it works for your campus); VR/traditional reference breakdown; SMS reference, and changes in methods for keeping reference statistics.

Committee News
The Virtual Reference Discussion Group Planning Committee has expanded its membership from 4 members to 7 members. They are: Henry Bankhead (chair-elect), Jason Coleman (chair), Aileen Marshall, Robert Metrick, Julie Piacentine, Amanda Clay Powers, and Jessica Sender. The committee has several goals for the coming year, including:

  • Plan and facilitate Virtual Reference Discussion Fora at ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual. For each, we will identify an exciting emerging trend related to virtual reference and recruit a volunteer to provide a twenty-minute presentation to stimulate small group discussions.
  • Update the committee’s public page on the ALA website. We plan to include lists of past members as well as lists of past topics for the Discussion Fora at Midwinter and Annual. When possible, the list of topics will include links to notes and presentation materials.
  • Establish and promote a public page on ALA connect for soliciting suggestions for future topics for Discussion Fora.

Virtual Reference Services Committee (RSS/MARS)

The RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee held its official meeting at ALA Annual in New Orleans on Saturday, June 25, as part of the RSS All-Committee meeting. Eight people were in attendance. The primary goal of the meeting was final planning for the committee’s sponsored program held on Monday, June 27, at 8:00 A.M.: “Behind the Text: Pulling Back the Curtain on Virtual Reference.” (The program was quite successful with 135 attendees and several people offering congratulations and asking for the presenters’ slides.) The committee also discussed the program pending approval by RUSA Board for ALA Annual 2012 on evaluation of virtual reference services, (tentatively titled) “Are Virtual Reference Services Worth the Effort?,” and briefly brainstormed ideas for ALA Annual 2013. The Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee reported on their exemplary work in updating the Online VR Tutorial. They are awaiting the migration of the ALA site to Drupal to update specific aspects of the tutorial, but they are prepared to move forward with two currently updated modules. The current plan is to conduct the committee’s official midwinter meeting virtually in January 2012.

Ellen Filgo, Chair,


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Message from the Chair

RSS Review
Amy E. Rustic, Editor

Hello RSS Members!

I am very excited to be starting work as the 2011-2012 RSS Chair. RSS has been my home in ALA since 2003, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve.

This year we’ll be making even more changes to help RSS meet the needs of frontline reference staff. Joe Thompson, our fearless past-chair, led an inspiring board meeting earlier this month where many of you shared great ideas how we can move RSS forward. Next, the Organization and Planning Committee, led by Thompson, will work with the RSS Executive Committee to implement the ideas from the meeting and from the recently completed Section Review. Our goal is to continue to develop RSS into a responsive, effective, and fluid section that will meet the needs of frontline reference staff now and prepare us all for the future.

In addition, I’m asking all committee chairs to set goals for the year and update them as the year progresses. I’ve built in more structure and accountability (AKA, deadlines!) to help all of us develop new projects and complete them. I was a bit worried about giving people deadlines and checkpoints, but the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I guess we all do work better when we have deadlines! Even the Executive Committee had to create goals and has to meet deadlines—we’re not exempt from the work.

We have so many exceptional, hardworking, and talented members of our section, and I’m lucky to know a lot of you. I hope to meet many more of you throughout the year. Speaking of exceptional members, I want to be sure to mention three new members of our RSS Honor Roll, who have served the section in three different capacities since its inception: Qiana Johnson, Marjorie Schreiber Lear, and Emilie Smart. Congratulations! Thanks to each of you for your dedication and hard work.

Here’s to a wonderful year! If at any time you have any ideas for our how section can improve, or issues from the frontlines that we should be addressing, please let me know.

Best to you, 

Liane Taylor
RSS Chair, 2011-2012

Catalog Use Committee

The committee hosted a discussion forum at ALA Annual in New Orleans (“Diving into the Deep End: Teaching the New Discovery Tools”) on the experience of guiding library users in the adoption of web-scale discovery. Three panelists spoke about the experience in their libraries. There were thirty-seven attendees, and the topic provoked lots of lively discussion. Based on the success of this forum, we will consider hosting another, perhaps at Midwinter in Dallas.

The committee identified these goals for the next year at its meeting in New Orleans:

  1. Keep the committee on the front line of presenting interesting ideas to ALA, by building on our previous successes hosting discussion forums.
  2. Stimulate the involvement of all committee members in the activities of the committee.

Peter Collins, Chair 2011-2012

Cooperative Reference Service Committee

Arlene Weismantel distributed her proposed script for a short training video titled, “Going Local With Institution’s Cooperative Reference.” Committee members are to provide feedback about the script to Weismantel before July 15, 2011. The committee discussed whether to continue with the project of creating short (5 to 10 min.) educational videos and podcasts focusing on specific aspects of cooperative reference services. Podcasts and videos would be available on the ALA website. It was suggested that the committee examine its charge and investigate whether to continue as a committee or possible merge with another one. Nancy Huling will be addressing this issue when she takes over as chair of the committee.

Alica White, Chair 2010-2011

Discussion Forums Coordinating Committee

We held two lively discussions at ALA Annual in New Orleans!

The first, “Data Reference: Tell Us How You Really Feel,” convened by Alexa Pearce and Samantha Guss both of New York University, was attended by twenty-four people. The participants were a well-rounded mix of data librarians and generalists. The discussion was a good balance with data librarians sharing tips and generalists asking questions and expressing their concerns. Evaluations included comments such as, “I got to hear the perspective of generalists which will help me with my training of our general reference staff,” and “I learned more about approaches to data reference, resources for professional development, book, and workshops.”

The second discussion, “Come Together, Right Now, the Merging of Public Services and Changing Services,” was convened by Ava Iuliano and Lori Driver both of Florida International University. This discussion was attended by forty-two people and provided perspectives on what works, what doesn’t work, what to consider when merging service points, what you can learn from others mistakes, and much, much more! This comment from the evaluations says it all, “This was very interesting. I’m taking lots of specific ideas back and also have some bigger issues and ideas to ponder.” People walked away with food for thought and ideas on how to handle opportunities that might come up in their libraries.

Sarah J. Hammill, Chair 2010-2011

Education and Professional Development for Reference

The Education and Professional Development for Reference Committee (EPDRC) is working with MARS staff development committees to create an in-person workshop for ALA Midwinter 2013 for library staff, along with investigating topics for online training to be made available through ALA. These projects will be based on feedback garnered from survey data collected by EPDRC on the topic of professional development for reference practitioners and managers.

Kristen Mastel, Chair 2011-2012

Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee

At Annual 2011, the Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee held the program, Using Today’s Numbers to Plan Tomorrow’s Services: Effective User Services Assessment, on Sunday, June 26 in the Morial Convention Center. The program featured James Fish, Baltimore County Public Library; Jennifer Rutner, Columbia University Libraries; and Zsuzsa Koltay, Cornell University Library. The room was scheduled for seventy-five attendees but we counted at least 120 (people sat on the floor, stood in the back, we got extra chairs). Due to the volume of requests, the two sets of slides available (from Rutner and Koltay) were posted on ALA Connect at and announcements sent to RSS-L, RUSA-L, and ARL-ASSESS. Thanks to Joe Thompson and Liane Taylor for their help and support!

Ellen Keith, Chair 2011-2012

Library Service to an Aging Population

The preconference in New Orleans was cancelled due to low enrollment, but we have a great program planned for 2012 Annual in Anaheim. We also discussed publication options for the annotated guidelines for services to older adults, that Kathleen Hegarty and Barbara Mates recently completed working on. It was proposed that a goal for the committee this year could be updating our committee charge. We all recognized the value of discussion groups at Midwinter as a great opportunity to promote conversation around timely issues for our service population.

Jeff Kempe, Chair 2011-2012

Library Services to the Spanish Speaking

The RSS Services to the Spanish Speaking committee designed and conducted a survey of librarians from all types of libraries working with Spanish-speaking patrons. The survey received more than seventy responses. The committee revised the Guidelines for Library Services to Spanish Speakers and the Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Multilingual Collections and Services. At our committee meeting at the 2011 Annual Conference,  the committee started discussing the possibility of organizing a discussion forum based on the survey results to be held at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, California.

Gabriel J. Duque, Chair 2011-2012

Management of Reference Committee

The Management of Reference Committee has completed a draft revision of the Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers. Suggestions, made by members of the RUSA Standards and Guidelines Committee, have been incorporated into the draft revision. This summer the current draft of the Guidelines will be posted to ALA Connect for feedback. This summer we will begin work on a revision of the Professional Competencies for Reference and User Services Librarians.

William Weare, Chair 2010-2012

Marketing and Public Relations for Reference

The committee had a fruitful annual conference. Our program, “Marketing Reference on a Dime,” the RUSA President’s Program, was a success! We had a tremendous panel who truly discussed the nuts and bolts of a successful marketing campaign and all the attendees came away with some marketing ideas and advice. All program presentations are located at the committee Facebook page. Log into Facebook and like ALA RUSA Marketing.

After Annual this year I officially stepped down as committee chair and off the committee. It has been a great five years serving on this committee, and I have learned a lot from other committee members and mentors who have guided me along the way as this was my first ALA committee assignment. The new incoming chair is Cathay Crosby who will lead the committee to more great work in the future!

Ed Garcia, Chair 2010-2011

Organization and Planning Committee

The committee met during the RSS All-Committee Meeting at the recent ALA Annual Conference 2011 in New Orleans. Two primary topics were addressed at the meeting:

  1. Cindy Levine, our new RSS Archivist, reviewed the new procedures for maintaining and archiving committee documents as described in the document, RSS: A Plan for Information Gathering, Maintenance, Organization, Access & Preservation.
  2. Ideas for how to accomplish an annual assessment of the section were shared, with the most likely solution involving the development of an annual survey of the membership.

Since the close of the Annual Conference, the new membership of Organization and Planning has communicated by email to develop a set of goals for the 2011-2012 year:

  1. Meet jointly with RSS Executive Committee in August, October/November, January, and April/May to review progress toward meeting goals and suggest any actions needed to address problems.
  2. Work with committee chairs to improve, repurpose, or eliminate committees that were identified as having problems during the most recent section review and/or during the spring 2011 committee appointments process. Create new committees where appropriate. Solicit input from the RSS Executive Committee through this process.
  3. Review the recommendations provided during the July 2011 RSS Executive Committee II meeting. Prioritize the recommendations and coordinate with RSS Executive Committee to implement appropriate changes.
  4. Work with RSS Executive Committee to build and sustain relationships with MARS and other sections of RUSA as appropriate. (Note: This includes the planning for the joint RSS/MARS series of Midwinter Workshops, with the first to take place in January 2013 in Seattle. Responsibility for planning the content of these workshops is expected to be assigned to a joint subcommittee of the Education and Professional Development Committee of both sections.)
  5. Review and revise the RSS Handbook.
    1. Create a program planning checklist. Include in next revision of RSS Handbook.
    2. Review the established communication channels used in RSS. Define the appropriate use of each and recommend addition of new channels or removal of existing channels. Include in next revision of RSS Handbook recommendations for use of each channel.
  6. Assess the section’s success in meeting the needs of its members through a survey and other evaluative means.
  7. The Organization  and Planning chair will provide a report four times a year for RSS Review.

I’d also like to take this moment to thank Operations and Planning’s past-chair, Barb Mann, for her work over the past year in revising the RSS Bylaws and RSS Handbook. The section is now better positioned to address the needs of its members due to the many improvements that were made to these documents!

Joe Thompson, Chair 2011-2012

Preconference Planning Committee

The RSS-MARS joint pre-conference, “Strange Bedfellows: IT and Reference Collaborations to Enhance User Experiences,” brought together a fantastic set of speakers and included a lively discussion with participants. Char Booth opened the session with a keynote speech on effective collaborative behaviors and included several examples to demonstrate successful applications of those behaviors. Dan Suchy and Matt Critchlow, both from University of California-San Diego presented on some of the projects they had completed together and discussed what worked and what didn’t. Catherine Murray-Rust, Dean of Libraries, Georgia Institute of Technology, discussed the importance of building trust demonstrating value. William Denton and Adam Taves, from York University, Toronto, performed a skit to demonstrate where collaborations break down and how to rebuild them. Joanne Kossuth, Technology Strategy team member at Educational and Institutional Cooperative Purchasing, led attendees in an interactive discussion to identify the necessary components to successful collaboration. To learn more, visit John Chrastkas post on the ALA Membership blog.

Carolyn Sheffield, Chair 2010-2011

Recognition Committee: RSS Service Achievement Award

Susan A. Ware, Reference and Instruction Librarian at Penn State University, was presented with the first RSS Service Achievement Award during the RUSA Awards Ceremony at the annual ALA conference in New Orleans.

Ware was nominated for a single, significant contribution that has resulted in a positive impact upon the work of the section and toward attaining the goals of RSS. After several years of work with the Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee on the RUSA assigned project of developing guidelines for assessment of reference services and writing a new definition of reference, Ware volunteered to take charge of the project. She regularly attended committee and board meetings, contributing information and thoughts based upon the research she had done for the project. Ware followed this seven year project through new RSS chairs, new committee chairs and members, as well as through the change from MOUSS (Management and Operation of User Services Section) to RSS. Her dedication to the project resulted in the Measuring and Assessing Reference Services and Resources: A Guide and led to the final unveiling of the new Definition of Reference at a RUSA Board meeting in January 2008. For her tremendous and outstanding work with this project, the RSS Recognition Committee unanimously agreed that Susan is the perfect choice for the first RSS Service Achievement Award.

Lori Thornton, Chair 2010-2012

Research and Statistics Committee

The Research and Statistics Committee hosted the 17th Annual Reference Research Forum on Sunday, June 26. The three presentations were Ana Dubnjakovic’s “Recent Reference Transaction Statistics in Academic Libraries in the United States: Are Electronic Resources Responsible for the Decline?” examined the relationship between spending on electronic resources and reference transactions; Amanda Clay Powers’s “Mining Virtual Reference Data for an Iterative Assessment Cycle” examined the possible changes in chat questions and answers after the implementation of the EBSCO Discovery Service; and Amy VanScoy’s “Practitioner Beliefs of Reference Librarians in Academic Research Libraries” examined the values and attitudes held by academic reference librarians that influence their work. The committee also combed the literature to select exceptional articles detailing research in reference to the ReferenceResearchReview: 2010.

Qiana Johnson, Chair 2010-2012

Virtual Reference Services (MARS/RSS)

The RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee held its official meeting at ALA Annual in New Orleans on Saturday, June 25, as part of the RSS All-Committee meeting. Eight people were in attendance. The primary goal of the meeting was final planning for the committee’s sponsored program held on Monday, June 27, at 8:00 A.M., namely “Behind the Text: Pulling Back the Curtain on Virtual Reference.” (The program was quite successful with 135 attendees and several people offering congratulations and asking for the presenters’ slides.) The committee also discussed the program pending approval by RUSA Board for ALA Annual 2012 on evaluation of virtual reference services, (tentatively titled) “Are Virtual Reference Services Worth the Effort?,” and briefly brainstormed ideas for ALA Annual 2013. The Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee reported on their exemplary work in updating the Online VR Tutorial. They are awaiting the migration of the ALA site to Drupal to update specific aspects of the tutorial, but they are prepared to move forward with two currently updated modules. The current plan is to conduct the committee’s official midwinter virtually in January 2012.

Don Boozer, Chair 2011-2012

Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee

The 2010-11 term has been exciting and productive for the Virtual Reference (VR )Tutorial Subcommittee of RSS and MARS. As 2010-11 subcommittee chair, I gratefully acknowledge the collaboration, creativity and collegiality shared by all team members. This is a great team and everyone contributed to our successful results in 2010-11.

In the fall 2010, the subcommittee identified two significant goals for 2010-2011: Evaluate the existing VR tutorial, and identify needed improvements; develop pilot modules to replace existing content in the VR tutorial. At ALA Midwinter 2011, subcommittee representatives reported on the VR tutorial evaluation recommendations and described the development work planned for spring 2011. During the winter and spring, members identified two main modules to improve, update, and present at ALA Annual. By ALA Annual in June 2011, subcommittee members proudly reported that two pilot modules were improved and updated, and will be the first to move to the new delivery platform sponsored by ALA. In the 2011-2012 term, the subcommittee is committed to upgrading additional modules and looks forward to sharing results with our Virtual Reference Services (MARS/RSS) Committee colleagues.

Valli Hoski, Chair 2010-2011

Message from the Chair

Katharine Calhoun, Editor

Greetings Everyone,

I am the new Chair of RUSA STARS, I’d like to introduce myself. I am the Head of Access Services at Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison. My entire career has been in interlibrary loan and other access services areas, so it seems STARS has always been a part of my career.

I am very excited to spend the next year helping lead STARS towards its objectives. This year we hope to continue to offer educational activities, along with establishing a venue for communication for all resource sharing practitioners. Whether you are new to STARS or have been a member forever like me, I encourage you to contact me with ideas and interests you may have. I am sure we have a space for you on one of our committees, and we are always looking for new ideas!

Heather Weltin, Chair

Cooperative Collection Development (STARS/CODES)

What Does Cooperation in Libraries Mean? Tools and Pitfalls in Creating Successful Resource Sharing and Collections Agreements, a program sponsored by the STARS/CODES Cooperative Collection Development Committee, was held on Sunday, June 26th. The program was very successful, with fifty-seven in attendance. Presenters Lars Leon and Carol Kochan talked about the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) cooperative experience in resource sharing; Leslie Horner Button addressed cooperative collection building within the Boston Library Consortium and the Five Colleges; and Kristine Hammerstrand spoke about the (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois) CARLI consortium experience.

At the Committee’s meeting at ALA, members brainstormed on possible ideas for a program at ALA in 2013. Ideas included:

  • Academic/Public libraries: cooperation and complementarities
  • Purchase on Demand
  • Acquisition/ILL department mergers
  • Purchasing cooperatives in public libraries
  • Statewide purchase programs (e-resources)
  • Distributed collections
  • ILL of e-books

The group also discussed developing the Committee’s website and increased use of ALA Connect.

Kathy Leigh and Yem Fong are concluding their service as Co-Chairs and committee members. Sydney Thompson has been appointed as the STARS Co-Chair for the coming year.

Kathryn Leigh, Outgoing Chair