Category: MARS Section

MARS: Update from the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS)

Cathy Larson, Editor

Message from the Chair

MARS: Emerging Technology in Reference Section is looking forward to an exciting year of programming and service. The Section recently submitted our section review to RUSA and it was favorably received. The Executive Committee and Planning Committees will be reviewing recommendations over the coming year and working on changes to further the mission of MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference Section.

Congrats are well deserved for our newly elected members.

Vice-Chair/Chair –Elect – Donna Scanlon

Secretary (two-year term) – Chanitra Bishop

Member-At-Large (three-year term) – Matt Torrence

Our members hosted a suite of excellent programs and discussion groups during ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas, NV.

Management of Electronic Resources Committee sponsored “Libraries in the Course Management System: Best Practices and New Directions,” to a standing room only crowd in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Panelists shared their experiences with integrating library resources in various systems and the audience participated in a lively discussion.

The MARS Chair’s Program began by honoring Anne Houston, this year’s recipient of the MARS Achievement Recognition Award (My Favorite Martian). After the presentation, 150 participants gathered to hear, Angela Zoss, Data Visualization Coordinator, Duke University and Josh Boyer, Head, User Experience, North Carolina State University present their perspectives and experiences with data visualization in a session entitled “New Directions for Data Visualization in Library Public Services.”

At the Virtual Reference Discussion Group, a group of dedicated folks demonstrated the Virtual Reference Companion, a resource for those implementing or managing virtual reference services. Be sure to check out this wonderfully helpful resource at http://www.ala.org/rusa/vrc

The Hot Topics Discussion Group met on Sunday to discuss makerspaces in libraries. Participants heard from several librarians engaged in makerspaces activities and even played with some 3D objects.

The MARS Happy Hour at Firefly provided an opportunity for members, new and old, to enjoy each others’ company and learn about MARS in a relaxed, friendly environment.

The last event of Sunday evening was the RUSA Awards Reception and Volunteer Appreciation Party at Caesars Palace. Our very own Anne Houston was presented with the MARS Achievement Recognition Award (My Favorite Martian). Thank you to Anne for all her hard work and dedication to MARS over the years.

We welcome your participation in MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference.   If you would like to know more about MARS or are interested volunteering for a committee, please contact Stephanie Graves (stephgraves3@gmail.com)

 

Stephanie Graves
MARS Chair, 2014-2015

MARS: Update from the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section

Cathy Larson, Editor
Join the discussion at http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l

Message From the Chair
Annual Conference time is almost here, and I hope to see many of you in Las Vegas! The Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS) has two programs and three discussion forums planned as well as several committee meetings, so mark your calendars and we hope to see you often. If you haven’t tried out the ALA Scheduler, I recommend it. ALA will keep this service up-to-date to reflect last minute room changes, and they monitor the site and may add seats to events where they see high advance demand.

Friday, start out with RUSA 101: Network, Get Oriented, Get Involved. This is a fun orientation and get-together. It will be on Friday, June 27, 2014 from 3:00-4:00 P.M. at Las Vegas Convention Center, room S222.

Saturday morning, June 28, from 8:30-10:00 AM, the All Committee Meeting will be in Bally’s, Skyview 4. If you’re on a committee already, this is your primary meeting time. If you’re a member who can volunteer to help with the work of the section, this is a chance to stop by, talk with the committee chairs and members in one location, and find a committee that fits your interests.

Next up on Saturday, our Management of Electronic Resources Committee is sponsoring “Libraries in the Course Management System: Best Practices and New Directions,” held in the Las Vegas Convention Center, room N263C from 10:30-11:30 A.M. for what is sure to be a lively conversation.

Saturday afternoon from 1:00-2:30 PM will be the MARS Chair’s Program at the Las Vegas Convention Center N263C. We will begin by honoring Anne Houston, this year’s recipient of the MARS Achievement Recognition Award (My Favorite Martian). Then we have two great speakers lined up, Angela Zoss, Data Visualization Coordinator, Duke University and Josh Boyer, Head, User Experience, North Carolina State University. They will present their perspectives and experiences with data visualization in a session called “New Directions for Data Visualization in Library Public Services.”

Capping off Saturday, from 3:00-4:00 PM in the Las Vegas Convention Center, room S228 will be “Discovering Open Access Articles: Maximum Access, Maximum Visibility!,” co-sponsored with ALCTS and ACRL.

On Sunday, June 29, join us for our Planning Committee meeting from 8:30-10:00 AM at the Las Vegas Hotel in the Boardroom. If you are interested in observing the work and possibly volunteering for a committee for the coming year, please join us.

Sunday from 10:30-11:30 A.M. in the Paris Chablis room will be the Virtual Reference Discussion Group of Houston Libraries. Sunday from 1:00-2:30 P.M., at the Convention Center, Exhibit Hall, Meeting Room C, the Hot Topics Discussion Group will host a forum.

And the last event of Sunday evening will be the RUSA Awards Reception and Volunteer Appreciation Party from 5:00-6:30 P.M. at Caesars Palace, Florentine II-IV.

On Monday, June 30, if you’re still in town, plan to stop by our MARS Executive Committee Meeting from 8:30-10:00 A.M. at the Las Vegas Convention Center, room N202. The meeting is where MARS Committee and Discussion Forum chairs, as well as MARS representatives to RUSA level committees share their activities of the last six months and their upcoming plans. We are meeting jointly with the RSS Executive Committee for the last hour (this meeting will be in N102) to coordinate activities of our two sections.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to volunteer, please go to http://www.ala.org/rusa/volunteer, or contact Stephanie Graves, Vice Chair, Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS) at stephaniegraves@library.tamu.edu.

For those of you who have already volunteered, thanks for all your contributions to MARS and MARS members this year. You are making a difference. It’s been an affirming experience to be Chair this year and have the opportunity to work with such an outstanding group of Librarians.

Best,

Sam Stormont
srstormont@widener.edu
Chair, Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS) 2013-2014

MARS Committee Reports

RUSA MARS Hot Topics in Electronic Reference Discussion Group
What: RUSA MARS Hot Topics Discussion Forum – Libraries & Makerspaces: What’s the connection?
When: Sunday, June 29, 1:00-2:30 PM
Where: Convention Center Exhibit Hall, Meeting Room C

Have you heard about makerspaces but still have questions about how they fit into the work of libraries? Are you interested in makerspaces, but unsure how to get started? Well this discussion forum is for you! Come learn what you need to take your library to the next level.

Join RUSA MARS Hot Topics as they welcome two speakers to discuss the link between makerspaces and libraries and how you can get started with a makerspace in your library.

The session will start with a discussion by Rudy Leon (the University of Nevada, Reno) on the connection between makerspace and libraries and how your current space may already have elements of a makerspace. Rosemary Arneson (University of Mary Washington, Fredricksburg, Virginia) will discuss how a storage space in the library was converted to create ThinkLab. She will share how the space has been incorporated into courses such as Makerbots and Mashups and also discuss the technologies currently in the space.

This ninety-minute session will include a discussion and Q&A, so be sure to bring your questions! By the end of the program, you’ll feel confident understanding the role of makerspaces in libraries and take away some ideas on how to start your own.

More about our speakers:

  • Rudy Leon joined the University of Nevada Knowledge Center in March of 2012. Her liaison areas are Communication Studies, Political Science, and Gender, Race & Identity. She is also the coordinator of Burning Inquiry (a celebration of researchers at UNR investigating aspects of the Burning Man Festival), and the advisor to the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center Undergraduate Student Committee.
  • Rosemary Arneson is the University Librarian at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. She launched the UMW ThinkLab makerspace in September 2012, and she works closely with the Freshman Seminar, Makerbots and Mashups, that meets in the space. She continues to develop her own maker skills, particularly in the area of e-textiles and wearable technologies.

Chanitra Bishop, Chair 2013-2014
chbishop@indiana.edu

RUSA MARS Best Free Reference Websites
The RUSA MARS Best Free Reference Websites committee conducts virtual communication among members. Although on year-round lookout for outstanding sites, our busy times take place in February, March, and April as the committee participants focus on posting, evaluating, and voting on the many websites each member has chosen as favorites. After closely examining and evaluating the forty-eight websites initially submitted, the committee members voted for those we considered to be the best. The list for 2014 contains fourteen websites that have received this distinction.

Janice Wilson, Chair 2013-2014
wilsonj@easternct.edu

MARS: Update from the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section

Cathy Larson, Editor
Join the discussion at http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l

Message from the Chair

Greetings!

Annual Conference time is coming up soon, and I hope to see many of you in Las Vegas! I know I’m certainly looking forward to some warmer weather! The Emerging Technologies in Reference Group (MARS) has three discussion forums and one program planned as well as several committee meetings and a Happy Hour, so mark your calendars and we hope to see you often.

In addition, RUSA has a President’s program as well as an orientation, so there are lots of ways to get involved, learn more, and network with your colleagues. If you haven’t tried out the ALA Scheduler, I recommend it. ALA will keep this service up-to-date to reflect last minute room changes, and they monitor the site and may add seats to events where they see high advance demand.

On Saturday morning, June 29, from 8:30-10:00 AM, join us for our all-committee meeting. If you’re on a committee already, this is your primary meeting time. If you’re a member who can volunteer to help with the work of the section, this is a chance to stop by, talk with the committee chairs and members in one location, and find a committee that fits your interests.

Next up, our Management of Electronic Resources Committee is sponsoring a discussion forum. Please join us from 10:30-11:30 AM and keep an eye on your email for further details.

Saturday afternoon from 1:00-2:30 PM will be the MARS Chair’s Program. We will begin by honoring Anne Houston, this year’s recipient of the MARS Achievement Recognition Award. Then we have three great speakers lined up who will address the topic of Data Visualization.

Our Virtual Reference Discussion Group forum will also be held later Saturday afternoon, with the exact time to be finalized soon.

Capping off Saturday, from 4:00-5:30 PM, will be the RUSA President’s Program.

On Sunday, June 30, the Planning Committee will meet from 8:30-10:00 AM and on Sunday afternoon, from 1:00-2:30 PM, our Hot Topics Discussion Forum will be held.

Please join us late Sunday afternoon for the RUSA Awards Reception and Volunteer Appreciation Party from 5:00-6:30 PM.

On Monday, if you’re still in town, plan to stop by our MARS Executive Committee Meeting from 8:30-11:30 AM. The meeting is where MARS Committee and Discussion Forum chairs, as well as MARS representatives to RUSA level committees share their activities of the last six months and their upcoming plans. We are meeting jointly with the RSS Executive Committee for the last hour to coordinate activities of our two sections.

Locations for all events will be finalized and available next month.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to volunteer, please go to http://www.ala.org/rusa/volunteer, or contact Stephanie Graves, Vice Chair, Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS) at stephaniegraves@library.tamu.edu.

For those of you who have already volunteered, thank you for all your contributions to MARS and MARS members this year. You are making a difference.

Sam Stormont
MARS Chair, 2012-2013
srstormont@widener.edu

Committee Updates

Hot Topics in Electronic Reference Discussion Group
The RUSA MARS Hot Topics in Emerging Technologies Discussion Group held a roundtable discussion on Sunday, January 26, 1:00-2:30 pm. Approximately thirty-five people came for the discussion. The discussion centered on technology challenges and solutions, training staff and new technology initiatives and projects. A few of the resources shared include:

We are also planning a discussion forum for ALA Annual on MakerSpaces. More details will be available later.

Chanitra Bishop
Chair, Hot Topics in Electronic Reference Discussion Group 2013-2014
chbishop@indiana.edu

MARS

Update from the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section
Join the discussion at http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l

Cathy Larson, Editor

Greetings!

We are fast approaching the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia from January 24-27, 2014. For Midwinter of 2014, MARS will again use a modified system of meetings. Most committees, other than the Executive Committee, will not meet in person during Midwinter. Committees are meeting virtually prior to Midwinter, and submitting a report of committee activities to the Executive Committee by email. The Executive Committee will meet in person during Midwinter and will refer to committee reports to conduct business. The Planning Committee, and members of those groups hosting discussion forums will be present as well. With the continuing challenges many of our members face in finding funding for two conferences per year, we hope this model will meet our needs.

Please let us know how you feel about this change. One issue is that we don’t seem to be able to get as many committee volunteers with the new format. Committee appointments, which typically begin July 1 of each year, are generally made between the Midwinter and Annual meetings and without interested volunteers attending our Midwinter committee meetings, it has been more of a challenge to identify those interested in working with our committees. I welcome your thoughts on ways we can increase our ability to identify willing and interested volunteers.

Watch for details on time and place in the coming weeks regarding the RUSA Membership Social. This event allows RUSA members and prospective members to meet and mingle while learning more about RUSA. I encourage you to attend if you are able to do so. The social is a highlight for RUSA during the Midwinter Meeting and it is a great place to encourage others to join us in MARS and to volunteer to serve on committees.

MARS will also be hosting some very interesting discussion forums during Midwinter. We are also planning a free preconference workshop Look for more specifics later this month. Please show your support by attending these forums if your schedule permits.

Please note that ALA’s new meeting policy, initiate last year, will be in effect. As a result, you will note that two of our discussion forums are shorter; only sixty minutes instead of the usual ninety. This new meeting policy is ALA’s response to feedback from members who requested shorter meeting times. See the Annual Conference 2013: Change Roadmap for more details on the change discussion.

Highlighting some of the work going on between conferences:

The Nominating Committee has been hard at work over the fall and they have prepared a slate for the upcoming elections. Watch your emails in March for the new ballot. And be sure to make your vote count!

The Planning Committee is preparing for Section Review. In conjunction with the members at large, the committee will be meeting virtually and at Midwinter to finalize the report that will be submitted to RUSA. This is a regular task, whereby each of the Sections in RUSA review their activities, structures and plans for the future. The review helps us to formally document where we’ve been, evaluate what changes may be needed, how we relate to other sections and divisions within ALA, to create a roadmap for continual improvement in the section, and to provide information back to our parent division, RUSA.

Finally, help us to select an outstanding section member for the MARS Achievement Recognition Award (My Favorite Martian) this year! See the Call for Nominations for information on award criteria and deadlines for nominations.

See you in Philadelphia!

Sam Stormont
srstormont@widener.edu
Chair, Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS) 2013-2014

MARS: Update from the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS)

Cathy Larson, Editor

Join the discussion at http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l

RUSA MARS Best Free Web sites

While the MARS Best Free Reference Web sites did not meet at annual, they did work on the following:

MARS Best Free Reference Website Committee

  • 26 sites selected (from 70 nominated)
  • all selected sites have been notified that they were selected as one of the 2013 “Best Free Reference Websites”
  • RUSA/MARS web pages have been updated for 2013
  • text has been sent off to Barry for Fall RUSQ

View the 2013 winners: http://www.ala.org/rusa/sections/mars/marspubs/marsbestfreewebsites/marsbestref2013

And the combined list has also been updated: http://www.ala.org/rusa/sections/mars/marspubs/marsbestindex

Donna Scanlon
dscanlon@loc.gov

MARS Conference Program Planning Committee

After the award presentation, the committee hosted / facilitated a program titled, “Usability, the User Experience & Interface Design: The Role of Reference.” Each presenter discussed how their institutions have implemented innovative changes to their user interface and addressed the role of usability testing, data mining, and other research methods in their decision process.

Audience members had an opportunity to submit questions to the panelists as well as time to speak with the panelists directly following the program.

The program was a success with a nearly full room, especially considering the popular concurrent sessions with which it competed. Our best guess is that the room would accommodate approximately 400-425 people and we were at least 70% filled which put attendance at approximately 280-300 attendees.

Donna Scanlon
dscanlon@loc.gov
Chair, Conference Program Planning Committee, 2012-2013

MARS Professional Development Committee

MARS Professional Development Committee (PD) held several virtual meeting between Midwinter and Annual, at we reviewed our progress at Annual.

The role of PD in training and facilitating webinar proposals is no longer relevant since RUSA now has assigned staff for the new Adobe Connect software. Nor is MARS PD active in soliciting and reviewing webinar proposals since these now go through RUSA submission and review process by the RUSA Professional Development Committee. PD will be updating our website to reflect these changes. We are still interested in collaborating with other MARS committees in planning professional development workshops or webinars. Some of the ideas proposed included:

  • Reference statistics software (this is scheduled to be a webinar for Fall 2013 and may involve MARS PD members)
  • Best practices in reference/technology areas
  • Collaboration with Hot Topics
  • Regional half-day professional development activities. Could we organize regional groups to meet in different cities/areas on a specific topic? Could be difficult to implement, but perhaps would draw in local people to learn from each other.
  • Template for how to plan a professional development event.
  • Ideas from state library associations

Joint RSS and MARS Midwinter Workshop: While the Midwinter Workshop in Seattle was a great success; RSS STARS will not be able to share space at Midwinter in Philadelphia. To date, we have been unable to secure space or content for a joint RSS and MARS workshop. There is a working group of RSS and MARS members still interested in developing a topic and locating a space. If planning does move forward by the working group, members of the MARS Professional Development Committee can be available to facilitate a free workshop.

Van Houlson
houls001@umn.edu
Co-Chair, Professional Development Committee, 2012-2013

Virtual Reference Discussion Coordinating Committee

The committee hosted and facilitated a discussion forum on the topic of virtual reference (VR). In response to feedback about the Midwinter discussion forum, at which we piloted a one-hour time slot, we eliminated kick-off speakers and devoted the entire time slot to small- and large-group discussion. Planning Committee member, Beth Boatwright (nee Overhauser) presented questions to guide discussion. These questions pertained to: VR platforms, staffing, assessment, best practices, marketing, emerging technologies, and the impacts of broader trends such as MOOCs. After a brief introduction by Boatwright, the thirty-five attendees engaged in small group discussions for approximately thirty minutes. And following that, we had approximately fifteen minutes in which each table reported the two or three most interesting things discussed at their table. The event was a success, especially considering the popular concurrent sessions with which it competed as well as its location outside of the conference center.

Jessica Sender will be taking over as chair for the 2013/14 year. Please contact her (jsender23@gmail.com) or Sam Stormont (srstormont@widener.edu) if you are interested in joining our committee. Virtual participation is possible for planning the forums. We will need some members to be able to attend each conference to assist with onsite discussion facilitation.

Julie A Piacentine
jpia@uchicago.edu
Chair, Virtual Reference Discussion Coordinating Committee, 2012-2013

MARS/RSS Virtual Reference Committee

The partnership with the RSS Marketing and Public Relations Committee for the Slam the Board series (webinar: May 2013; “Slamming”: June 10; in-person discussion forum: June 2013 @ Annual) was a success. The participants were treated to both background on the Slam the Boards initiative itself and also practical ideas on marketing reference services for their own institutions.

The partnership with the RSS Evaluation of Reference and User Services (ERUS) Committee is on going. The ad hoc virtual reference survey team presented a preliminary draft at our committee’s meeting at Annual. They are planning to continue to revise it (and the draft was also shared with incoming MARS chair, Sam Stormont).

The informal drop-in Wikipedia Edit-a-thon was held in the Networking Uncommons area of the McCormick Place from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM on Sunday at Annual. Although only fourteen people stopped by, there was a lively discussion on Wikipedia’s potential uses by libraries as a tool to provide access to resources and to promote libraries’ collections. One participant shared the article (Honan-Allston Branch of Boston Public Library) she created from scratch as a library school student (including photos she took). One participant who had never edited Wikipedia articles signed up for an account and edited her first article during the Edit-a-thon. Additionally, during the Joint RSS/MARS Executive Committee Meeting, attendees were intrigued by the idea of the Edit-a-thon and discussed ways something similar could be incorporated into section activities in the future.

Also at Annual, outgoing RSS Co-Chair, Don Boozer, introduced in-coming RSS Co-Chair, Cathay Crosby, who most recently was Chair of the RSS Marketing and Public Relations for Reference Committee. Crosby and Alisa Gonzalez (MARS Co-chair) will chair the committee beginning directly after ALA Annual 2013.

Alisa Gonzalez
acgonzal@nmsu.edu
Co-Chair, MARS/RSS Virtual Reference Committee, 2012-2014

Message from the Chair

MARS: Update from the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS)

Join the discussion at http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l

Cathy Larson, Editor

 

Annual Conference time is just around the corner, and I hope to see many of you in Chicago! The Emerging Technologies in Reference Group (MARS) has two programs and four discussion forums planned as well as several committee meetings, so mark your calendars and we hope to see you often. Also RUSA has a program in two parts as well as an orientation, so there are lots of ways to get involved, learn more, and network with your colleagues. If you haven’t tried out the ALA Scheduler, (http://ala13.ala.org/scheduler) I recommend it. ALA will keep this service up-to-date to reflect last minute room changes, and they monitor the site and may add seats to events where they see high advance demand. The good news is that most of our events are either in the Convention Center, or across the way in the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place which should cut down on many long trips back and forth on the buses.

Friday, start out with RUSA 101: Network, Get Oriented, Get Involved. This is a fun orientation and get-together. Friday, June 28, 2013 from 3:00-4:00 P.M. at Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Jackson Park 10ABC.

Saturday morning, June 29, from 8:30-10:00 A.M., the Planning Committee will be meeting in the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Boardroom 5 to work on Section Review and to continue updating the section Handbook. If you are interested in observing the work and possibly volunteering for the coming year or two, please join us. At the same time, the RSS All Committee meeting, including joint RSS/MARS Virtual Reference and Virtual Reference Tutorial Committee will be held at the McCormick Place Convention Center N226.

Next up, our Management of Electronic Resources Committee is sponsoring a discussion forum, Counting the Counts: the State of Public Services Statistics and Reporting. We’re all faced with the increasing need to make thoughtful data-driven decisions and to demonstrate our value to our communities and our parent institutions. Please join us from 10:30-11:30 A.M. in the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Burnham 23AB, for what is sure to be a critical conversation. The Committee will be following up the conversation after Annual with a webinar on reference statistical tools, so keep an eye on your email for further details.

Saturday afternoon from 1:00-2:30 P.M. our newest committee, User Experience Design will host a discussion forum, How Wide the Divide—Why We are Still Asking, followed by our Virtual Reference Discussion Group forum on Saturday, from 3:00-4:00 P.M. at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Room N135.

Capping off Saturday, from 4:00-5:30 P.M. in the Convention Center, room S105a-c will be the RUSA President’s Program: The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron, featuring Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. If you like what you hear, you’ll want to participate in part II, which will take place Sunday morning from 10:30-11:30 A.M. in the McCormick Place Convention Center room E351, where Rainie will again join us to facilitate a more interactive conversation.

On Sunday, June 30, join us for our all committee meeting from 8:30-10:00 A.M. at the McCormick Place Convention Center, room N426a. If you’re on a committee already, this is your primary meeting time. If you’re a member who can volunteer to help with the work of the section, this is a chance to stop by, talk with the committee chairs and members in one location, and find a committee that fits your interests.

Sunday from 1:00-2:30 P.M. will be the MARS Chair’s Program also at the McCormick Place Convention Center, room S403. We will start out honoring Nancy Cunningham, this year’s recipient of the MARS Achievement Recognition Award. Then we have four great speakers lined up: David Bietila, Web Program Director from the University of Chicago, Lesley Moyo, Director of Research & Instruction and Tracy Gilmore, Technical Services Librarian, both from Virginia Tech, and Elizabeth German, Web Services Coordinator from the University of Houston Libraries. They will address the topic: Usability, the User Experience & Interface Design: The Role of Reference.

Sunday from 3:00-4:00 P.M., at the McCormick Place Convention Center, room S404bc, the Local Systems and Services Committee will host a program entitled, Leveraging Open Source Software to Create Library Websites. Nicole Engard will provide an overview on open source software and talk about WordPress, Brendan Quinn will speak about Drupal, and Julie Hardesty will discuss Omeka.

Also on Sunday, from 4:30-5:30 P.M., in McCormick Place Convention Center, room N127, our Hot Topics Discussion Group will host a discussion forum, Big Data at the Desk: Data Visualization and Research for the Rest of Us.

And the last event of Sunday evening will be the RUSA Awards Reception and Volunteer Appreciation Party from 5:00-6:30 P.M. at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Prairie Room.

On Monday, July 1, if you’re still in town, plan to stop by our MARS Executive Committee Meeting from 8:30-11:30 A.M. at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel, Room Burnham 23A-C. The meeting is where MARS Committee and Discussion Forum chairs, as well as MARS representatives to RUSA level committees share their activities of the last six months and their upcoming plans. We are meeting jointly with the RSS Executive Committee for the last hour to coordinate activities of our two sections.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to volunteer, please go to http://www.ala.org/rusa/volunteer, or contact Sam Stormont, Vice Chair, Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS) at srstormont@widener.edu.

For those of you who have already volunteered, thanks for all your contributions to MARS and MARS members this year. You are making a difference. Thanks for making this a great year to be Chair.

Debbie Bezanson
bezanson@gwu.edu
Chair, Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS) 2012-2013

MARS Committee Reports

User Experience Design Committee
After an exciting and productive inaugural program at Midwinter, we are hosting our first official event in Chicago. Guest speakers LeiLani Freund and Michele Crump, both of University of Florida, will present the fascinating data published in their new book, Meeting the Needs of Student Users in Academic Libraries: Reaching Across the Great Divide. Their presentation is called, How Wide the Divide—Why We Are Still Asking? In 2011/12, the presenters examined the perceptions and preferences of users and library staff in the information commons (IC) environment. Two survey instruments, one for library users and one for library staff, measured responses to same or similar questions asked of IC users and staff at five academic university libraries throughout the United States. With the analysis of the Crump/Freund surveys, the presenters discuss the perceptions of library staff and library users to confirm the existence of a divide and determine if assessing the user experience will offer strategies to narrow the divide. Will asking the users about their library needs bring about a real understanding of library services? Can academic libraries put the users and their needs at the center of service development and if they do, will this revitalize the library as more than “place”? The presenters will involve the audience through discussion of assessment practices and implementations. Their examples ask the user to participate in the library community, a community defining every user as a distant learner and incorporating mobile technology to access resources at point of need.

The presentation will take place at 1:00-2:30 PM on Saturday, June 29 in the McCormick Place Convention Center, room N135.

Melissa Clapp
shoop@ufl.edu
Chair, User Experience Design Committee, 2012-2013

Message from the Chair

MARS: Update from the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section

Cathy Larson, Editor

It was good to see many of you in Seattle. Despite the rainy weather, the turnout was good for the three exciting discussion sessions sponsored by our Virtual Reference Discussion Group, Hot Topics Discussion Group, and new User Experience Design Committee. We also hosted an exciting preconference workshop at the University of Washington on the Friday before the conference. See descriptions of the sessions below.

Over the next few months, well be conducting a section review, a regular activity we perform about every five to seven years to make sure the section remains vital; revising the MARS Handbook; creating some open meetings and webinars to provide professional development opportunities for our members; selecting the 2013 Best Free Reference Websites; and planning for the Annual Meeting in Chicago.

This is also the time when we ask for you to get involved in the activities of this section. If you have time to participateeither in person or virtuallyplease consider volunteering by going to RUSA Volunteer form (requires login). If you experience difficulties with the volunteer form, please send an email directly to Vice Chair Sam Stormont who will be making appointments. He can be reached at srstormont@widener.edu. We have spaces available in all committees.

Also, if you have suggestions for topics for MARS professional development webinars, please let us know by submitting your suggestions here.

Debbie Bezanson, Chair
Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS) 2012-2013
bezanson@gwu.edu

Join the discussion at http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l

MARS Committee Reports

Virtual Reference Discussion Forum
The Virtual Reference (VR) Discussion Coordinating Committee hosted an engaging discussion forum at the Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. Nearly fifty attendees gathered to reflect and share knowledge on the topic of transitions between virtual reference platforms. Many libraries transitioned between platforms this year, due to the phasing out of Meebo, so the topic was especially timely. Dr. Pam Dennis and Laureen P. Cantwell of the University of Memphis University Libraries provided kick-off remarks titled, Life After Meebo: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services for Your Library in the Post-Meebo Virtual Environment. Following the kick-off remarks, attendees participated in small-group discussions, sharing their experiences evaluating and transitioning between VR platforms. A range of experiences were representedsome attendees came to learn about how they might implement VR services at their libraries, while others reported on their experiences with numerous VR platforms. Finally, attendees reported out on their small group discussions. Attendees shared suggestions for VR staffing models, emerging and alternative platforms, and best practices. Attendees expressed the value they derive from these discussions with their colleagues, particularly the small-group discussions. The Virtual Reference Discussion Coordinating Committee looks forward to hosting another engaging discussion forum at ALA Annual in Chicago.

Julie A. Piacentine, Chair
Virtual Reference Discussion Coordinating Committee, 2012-2013
jpia@uchicago.edu

MARS Professional Development Committee
The MARS Professional Development Committee is interested in developing webinars for any RUSA committee or member. We know how to deliver webinars using Blackboard Collaborate, the vendor chosen by RUSA for online learning. Our committee will help you with the process of getting your webinar approved, train your instructors, and facilitate your presentations. The committee is currently working on a webinar on using reference tracking and data collection tools to improve their services. Got an idea? Please consider submitting it to the MARS Professional Development Webinar Suggestion Form.

Van Houlson, Co-Chair
Professional Development Committee, 2012-2013
houls001@umn.edu

MARS Local Systems and Services Committee
The MARS LSS committee is planning an online program on learning commons. The date has not been finalized but is scheduled to take place in March. It is a follow-up to the 2011 discussion forum the committee held on Learning Commons.

Title:
The Learning Commons and the Academic Library: Using Emerging Technologies and New Partnerships to Build Student Success.

Description:
Has your library partnered with academic support services to offer a learning commons in the library, or are you discussing/planning such a partnership? If so, please join us for a follow-up to the discussion forum The Learning Commons and the Academic Library: Using Emerging Technologies and New Partnerships to Build Student Success held at Midwinter 2012. Attend the online open meeting and learn how these libraries have developed partnerships and designed spaces to support student learning.

Speakers:

  • Ameet Doshi, Head, User Experience Department, Georgia Tech University
    A short overview of the new GA Tech learning commons (“Clough Commons”) including the group study spaces, academic support services, and technology available. His main focus will be how the student advisory board impacted the design of the Library and learning commons.
  • Michelle Paon, Reference & Instruction Librarian, Dalhousie University
    Marc Comeau, IT Manager, Dalhousie University
    Eleven stakeholders currently share space in Dalhousie University’s Killam Learning Commons, with services ranging from GIS and statistical computing consultations to traditional research assistance and the IT help desk. We’ll identify the service areas located in the facility as well as touch on the innovative technologies that have been deployed in the commons.
  • Lori Mestre, Head Undergraduate Library, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    Mestre will share UIUC’s process for creating the initial plans for the Learning Commons and how student need for multimodal projects has resulted in the Learning Commons becoming a Media Commons (including floor layout, services, furniture, technology, class support, use patterns, partnerships, loanable technology acquisition). She will discuss how UIUC incorporated technology and designed the layout based on assessment of student needs.

Look for an email on the MARS listserv with more details. If you are interested in attending, please contact Chanitra Bishop at chbishop@indiana.edu.

The committee is also planning a program for ALA Annual on open source software. Below is the title and the description:

Title: Leveraging Open Source Software to create library web sites

Description: Is your library considering using open source software such as Drupal, WordPress or Omeka to revamp your library’s web site, create a digital archive or a staff intranet? Our speakers will provide an overview of open source software and discuss some of their features and capabilities. They will also discuss implementations of the software at their institution including the development process, challenges, lessons learned and practical advice for developing websites using open source software.

Time: Sunday, June 30, 2013 3-4 PM

Chanitra Bishop, Chair
Local Systems and Services Committee, 2012-2013
chbishop@indiana.edu

MARS Chairs Program for ALA Annual 2013
The MARS Chair Program Planning Committee has been hard at work planning an exciting program for this years conference. Mark your calendars now to join us Sunday, June 30th, from 1:00-2:30 P.M. for an informative discussion with David Bietila, Web Program Director, Digital Library Development Center, University of Chicago Library; Lesley Moyo, Director Research and Instruction, Virginia Tech University; Tracy Gilmore, Technical Services Librarian, Virginia Tech University; and a “mystery” speaker (to be identified soon) about the user experience, interface design and the role of reference. Dont forget we start the program with the My Favorite Martian Award for 2013!

Title: Usability, the User Experience & Interface Design: The Role of Reference

Description: With the advent of new discovery tools and new technology, the habits of our researchers and users have certainly changed. How are we collecting data and observing behavior to improve these interfaces to better meet our user’s needs? How can we learn from what other researchers are studying and use that data to implement change? What is the new relationship between the virtual space, the physical space, and the user experience?

Panel members will discuss how their institutions have implemented innovative changes to the user interface and address the role of usability testing in their decision process. Audience members will have opportunities to submit questions to the panelists. The learning objectives for attendees are:

  • Increased understanding of changes in users research habits;
  • Introduction to methods of information/data collection beyond traditional usability studies;
  • Learn processes for implementing change relevant for their own institutions.

Donna Scanlon
dscanlon@loc.gov
Chair, Conference Program Planning Committee, 2012-2013

User Experience Design Committee
Though it was 4:30 P.M. on a Sunday afternoon in Seattle, more than sixtypeople packed Room 203 of the Washington Convention Center for the Putting U in UX Design discussion forum sponsored by RUSA/MARS User Experience Design Committee. Heidi Steiner, Head of Digital and Distance Education Services at Norwich University, sparked the discussion by providing a provocative, witty introduction to the principles of user experience design. She emphasized the need for librarians to intentionally take the perspective of users and noted that doing so would help us avoid confusing them with inscrutable jargon and overly detailed blocks of text on websites. It would also inspire us to put help where our users are by embedding widgets and other contact information at the point-of-need.

Steiner further recommended that we solicit quick feedback from non-library users and then make quick changes based on that feedback rather than make changes only after complex, large-scale usability testing. Her slide-deck and Power Point slides can be found in the ALA Scheduler.

Following Steiners introduction, attendees participated in a lively discussion centering on what interests them and what concerns them about User Experience Design. This discussion yielded numerous ideas for future sessions and projects for the User Experience Design Committee.

Ideas for sessions included presentations or discussions about:

  • How to design universally to simultaneously help users as well as those who work directly with users.
  • What input to consider and what input to privilege when making decisions about user experience design.
  • What tools can we use to design effectively? The audience shared the following examples:
    • Crazy Egg: visualize where users click on a page
    • Optimizely: Compare two versions of a page
    • Google Ad Words: iscover what vocabulary terms are used by the public for various concepts
    • Post It Notes (digital and physical): Use these to keep track of ideas for small changes and to solicit input from patrons
    • Tools for first-click analysis
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of designing incrementally versus doing full-scale redesigns?
  • How can we help colleagues think from a user standpoint rather than from a librarian standpoint?
  • How to perform usability studies.
  • How to blend design and instruction effectively, e.g., how to create effective online instructional content without using too many words.

Ideas for projects:

  • Provide lists of examples and models of good design. Heidi recommended following several individuals including
    • Aaron Schmidt
    • Amanda Etches-Johnson
    • Brian Mathews
    • Matthew Reidsma
    • Steven Bell
  • Participants recommended the following two books:
    • This is Service Design Thinking by Marc Stickdorn and Jakob Schneider
    • Dont Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Other ideas:

  • Develop a database featuring sites designed for optimum user experience. Consider developing a site of the month recognition award as ACRLs PRIMO committee has done for instructional resources.
  • Develop a blog or listserv to foster ongoing discussion and sharing. A participant noted that UNC Chapel Hill hosts a listserv titled lib-ux. To subscribe visit http://lists.unc.edu/read/all_forums/subscribe?name=lib_ux
  • Consider partnering with LITAs Search Engine Optimization Interest Group

Melissa Clapp
melshoo@uflib.ufl.edu
Chair, User Experience Design Committee, 2012-2013

Jason Coleman
coleman@k-state.edu
Member, User Experience Design Committee, 2012-2014

Message from the Chair

MARS: Update from the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section

Cathy Larson, Editor
Join the discussion at http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l

 

Greetings!

We are fast approaching the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle from January 25-29, 2013. For winter of 2013, MARS will again use a modified system of meeting. Most committees, other than the Executive Committee, will not meet in person during Midwinter. Committees are meeting virtually prior to Midwinter, and submitting a report of committee activities to the Executive Committee by email. The Executive Committee will meet in person during Midwinter and will refer to committee reports to conduct business. The Planning Committee, and members of those groups hosting discussion forums will be present as well. Last year was the first time we tried this approach, and with the challenges many of our members face in finding funding for two conferences per year, we are continuing this approach this year.

Please let us know how you feel about this change. I will note from my perspective that we dont seem to be able to get as many committee volunteers with the new format. Committee appointments, which typically begin July 1 of each year, are generally made between the Midwinter and Annual meetings and without interested volunteers attending our Midwinter committee meetings, it has been more of a challenge to identify those interested in working with our committees. I welcome your thoughts on ways we can increase our ability to identify willing and interested volunteers.

For those who are able to attend in person, the scheduler is up! Please visithttp://alamw13.ala.org/scheduler to see all the activities along with their times, locations and descriptions.

The RUSA Membership Social will be held on Saturday, January 26 from 6:00-8:00 PM at the Grand Hyatt Seattle. This event allows RUSA members and prospective members to meet and mingle while learning more about RUSA. I encourage you to attend if you are able to do so. The social is a highlight for RUSA during the Midwinter Meeting and it is a great place to encourage others to join us in MARS and to volunteer to serve on committees.

The Professional Development Committee of MARS in collaboration with the RSS Education and Professional Development for Reference Committee will host a free preconference workshop at the University of Washingtons Odegaard Library Friday, January 25, 2013, 1:00-5:00 PM. New Tech for Reference: From the Reference Interview to Roving Reference, Challenges, Benefits and Best Practice will have presentations on using social media for reference interactions, Springshares LibAnswers, and models for roving reference services. For more information about the workshop and transportation to the University of Washington, see the full description athttp://connect.ala.org/node/190900 or contact Stephanie Alexander (alexanders@smccd.edu)

MARS will also be hosting some very interesting discussion forums during Midwinter. Please show your support if you are attending the Conference.

We have a new committee this year: the User Experience Design Committee. This group will host a discussion on Sunday, January 27 from 4:30-5:30 PM, in the Washington State Convention Center Room 203, titled Putting U in UX Design. See the committee update for more details on this discussion.

The Virtual Reference Discussion Group will host a discussion forum on Saturday, January 26 from 4:30-5:30 PM in the Washington State Convention Center, Room 619, focusing on how transitioning from Meebo presented challenges and opportunities to retool virtual reference services.

The Hot Topics Discussion Group will host a discussion forum on Saturday, January 26, from 1:00-2:30 PM in the Washington State Convention Center, Room 213.

Please note that ALA has a new meeting policy this year. As a result, you will note that two of our discussion forums are shorter only 60 minutes instead of the usual 90. This new meeting policy is ALAs response to feedback from members who requested shorter meeting times. See http://connect.ala.org/node/178761 for more details on the change discussion.

Highlighting some of the work going on between conferences:

The Nominating Committee has been hard at work over the fall and they have prepared a slate for the upcoming elections. Watch your emails in March for the new ballot. And be sure to make your vote count!

The Planning Committee is working on two important projects. The group is undertaking a review and update of the MARS Manual. This is a classic work, full of valuable information, and were excited that the committee has agreed to begin making it an even better resource for us all. We are also preparing for Section Review, led by the Planning Committee in conjunction with the members at large. This is a regular event, whereby each of the Sections in RUSA review their activities, structures and plans for the future. The review helps us to formally document where weve been, evaluate what changes may be needed, how we relate to other sections and divisions within ALA, to create a roadmap for continual improvement in the section, and to provide information back to our parent divisionRUSA.

The Local Systems and Services Committee is working on a virtual program we hope will be delivered early in the yearwatch your email and our website for more details.

Lastly, dont forget to nominate someone for the MARS Achievement Recognition Award this year! See the Call for Nominations for information on award criteria and deadlines for nominations.

Debbie Bezanson
bezanson@gwu.edu
Chair, Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS) 2012-2013

Call for Nominations for the MARS Achievement Recognition Certificate

Do you know someone who always does more than expected for MARS? Someone who is willing to take on the challenge to complete a project or produce a successful program? What about someone who is an indispensable member of your committee or someone who has served as your mentor? If so, please consider nominating them for the MARS Achievement Recognition Certificate, also known as the My Favorite Martian Award.

The MARS Achievement Recognition Certificate is given annually to recognize excellence in service to MARS. This award, presented at the annual MARS Chair’s Program, is given to an individual who is a current member of MARS, and has been an active member for the past two years.

The recipient must have made either (1) sustained contributions toward attaining the goals of MARS, or (2) a single, significant contribution that has resulted in a positive impact upon the work of the section.

To nominate someone, please send the candidates name, contact information, and brief statement of why you think they should receive the award to Stephanie Graves (sgraves@lib.siu.edu) by Friday, January 18, 2013.

Stephanie J. Graves
sgraves@lib.siu.edu
Member-At-Large

MARS User Experience (UX) Design Committee

The brand new UX Design Committee will host a program at Midwinter, Putting U in UX Design. Heidi Steiner from Norwich University (along with a co-presenter TBA) will present on ideas for improving current practices and shell lead a discussion with the audience to hear what their experiences have been so far, what direction their interests in future programs might take, etc. We hope to see you there!

Missy Clapp
shoop@ufl.edu
Chair, User Experience Design Committee, 2012-2013

Message From the Chair

Messages from MARS, the Newsletter of the RUSA MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference Section

Cathy Larson, Editor

Greetings Fellow MARS Members!

Its hard to believe another Annual Conference has come and gone. It was good to see many of you at the conference, and I know those who werent able to attend were there in spirit. Were looking forward to another great year for MARS, the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section of RUSA!

Many thanks go out to Dianna McKellar, our chair for 2011-2012, to Anne Houston our Past Chair, and to Carolyn Larson, Shannon Jones, and Erin Rushton, not to mention all those who served as members and chairs of our committees this year, and to all our invited presenters. We couldnt have done it without you.

Your new Executive Committee for 2012-2013 will be:

  • Debbie Bezanson – Chair (bezanson@gwu.edu)
  • Sam Stormont – Vice Chair
  • Kelley Ann Lawton – Secretary
  • Stephanie Graves, Arlie Sims, and Courtney Greene, Members-at-Large

If you are interested in joining MARS or learning more about the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section, please contact one of us. We welcome all members, those who can meet in person as well as virtual members.

This year we have a new committeethe User Experience Design Committee. Theyre just getting started but their mission will be: To identify and study issues relating to user experience (UX) design as it relates to emerging technologies in library public services, and to evaluate and promote integration of UX methods and philosophies in all types of libraries through technological and service standards, guidelines, and “best practices.” The chair for that committee will be Missy Clapp. If you are interested in joining this committee, please contact me.

Our Section goals for the coming year are to:

1. Continue to increase opportunities for virtual participation in the work of the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section. MARS membership is strong, but many of our members cannot regularly attend conference. Virtual meeting technologies, supported by RUSA, enable us to get more work done outside of the MidWinter and Annual face-to-face Conference meetings. In the coming year, the Executive Committee will work with each committee to identify ways to support more virtual projects and to recruit virtual members to contribute to the committee projects and goals.

2. Continue to increase professional development opportunities for members of the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section.

Professional Development is critical in the Emerging Technologies in Reference arena. The Professional Development Committee has already begun this task, creating webinars and free preconference workshops. In the coming year, work closely with RUSA to expand ongoing virtual offerings.

3. Maximize the effectiveness of RUSA by working closely with our parent organization and the other sections within RUSA to coordinate our virtual activities.

Through representation on RUSA level committees, coordinate ideas and create new synergies to help RUSA and the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section most effectively reach current members, providing them with opportunities for meaningful service and professional development, and most effectively recruit and retain new members.

4. Revise and update the MARS Handbook to optimize format and information for web presentation.

5. All MARS Committees will contribute to the 2013/2014 MARS Section Review.

The Section Review will be due to RUSA in February 2014. The committee reviews will be completed by Annual 2013.

Many of the committees and discussion groups have included summaries of their conference activities in this issue of Messages. To find out more about these presentations, dont forget to check out our website: http://www.ala.org/rusa/sections/mars, or look for our postings on ALA Connect.

Debbie Bezanson
MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference Chair, 2012-2013
bezanson@gwu.edu

Carolyn Larson Chosen My Favorite Martian for 2012

The MARS Achievement Recognition Certificate Committee selected Carolyn Larson, Head of the Business Reference Section, in the Science, Technology & Business Division at the Library of Congress as “My Favorite Martian” for 2012.

The Committee would also like to invite MARS members to send nominations for the 2013 Award to the Committee’s incoming chair, Stephanie Graves, at sgraves@lib.siu.edu by December 1, 2012. The MARS Achievement Recognition Certificate is given annually to recognize excellence in service to MARS. This award is given to an individual who is a current member of MARS, and has been an active member for the past two years. The recipient must have made either (1) sustained contributions toward attaining the goals of MARS, or (2) a single, significant contribution that has resulted in a positive impact upon the work of the section.

Shannon Jones, Outgoing Chair MARS Achievement Recognition Certificate Committee, 2011-2012
sdjones@vcu.edu

Outreach Committee: Happy Hour by the Pool and a Very Tweet Conference

This year, attendees of the Annual MARS Happy Hour enjoyed perfect weather (it was southern California, right?), hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and a relaxing poolside ambience at the Annabella Hotel near the Anaheim Convention Center. EBSCO generously sponsored the event, making possible the delicious hors doeuvres enjoyed by all. Over eighty people chatted about the work of MARS while catching up with old friends and getting acquainted with new ones. A moment was taken out of the informal event to acknowledge Carolyn Larson, this years My Favorite Martian honoree, as well as to thank the MARS leadership who led the Section through another great year. Alas, no one chose to bring a swimsuit and actually jump in, but it was a very nice party by the pool nonetheless.

For the first time, Outreach Committee members tweeted before and during the conference, commenting on everything from how to pack smart for a conference to the next relevant program on the agenda. Follow MARS on Twitter: @rusa_mars

Arlie Sims, Chair of MARS Outreach Committee, 2011-2012
asims@colum.edu

MARS Professional Development (PD) Committee

Learn to conduct virtual meetings and present webinars using Blackboard Collaborate! This online platform is new to RUSA and available to all MARS members. The MARS Professional Development Committee will be offering a series of training sessions on Blackboard Collaborate to teach the basics of navigating, and using some of the features such as the whiteboard and sharing screens. Each session will be 90 minutes at 1:00 PM Central Time (2:00 PM Eastern Time and 11:00 AM Pacific Time). Training dates are: August 17, August 31, September 14, September 28, October 12, October 26, November 16, November 30, and December 7th. MARS PD Co-chairs Van Houlson and Nancy Cunningham will be leading the training sessions. Please feel free to contact Van or Nancy with any questions.

Nancy Cunningham, Co-Chair Professional Development Committee, 2011-2013
nancy@usf.edu
Van Houlson, Co-Chair Professional Development Committee, 2012-2013
houls001@umn.edu

Products & Services Committee

The Products & Services Committee reviewed five products associated with recording library interactions. The software reviewed included: Reference Analytics, Desk Tracker, Gimlet, Google Analytics, and creating an Access database. These reviews are posted on the MARS blog.

Ngoc-Yen Tran, Chair, Products & Services Committee, 2011-2012
yentran@uoregon.edu

RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee

The RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee held its official meeting at ALA Annual in Anaheim on Saturday, June 23, as part of the RSS All-Committee meeting. Twelve people were in attendance. One of the primary goals of the meeting was final planning for the committee’s sponsored program held at Annual on Saturday, June 23, from 1:30-3:30 PM: “Are Virtual Reference Services Worth the Effort? What ROI Analysis and User Evaluations Tell Us.” The program was successful with approximately 150 people attending.

The committee is partnering with the RSS Marketing Committee on a webinar with Bill Pardue on marketing virtual reference services prior to Annual 2013. A discussion forum on this topic is planned for Annual 2013 itself with some sort of “bridge” activity between the webinar and Annual also being considered.

With the Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee now having access to the RUSA Drupal installation, they are moving ahead with posting content. They have renamed the “Tutorial” the “Virtual Reference Companion” and aim to make it applicable to both managers/supervisors of VR service and frontline VR librarians. We are very excited about their progress and what they have planned.

We are also looking at a change in our official mission statement to fold in the charge of the now-disbanded Cooperative Reference Services Committee to: “To identify and study issues relating to virtual reference services, and to evaluate and promote technological and service standards, guidelines, and ‘best practices’ for local and cooperative virtual reference services in all types of libraries.” We will be working with MARS and RSS to accomplish this.

Jason Coleman (Kansas State University Libraries and incoming Secretary of RSS) is moving ahead with the Survey Ad Hoc Group. He has recruited 2 people to help in designing and distributing the survey to determine the current state of virtual reference services.

The committee will be considering a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at either Midwinter and/or Annual.

The committee plans to conduct their official midwinter meeting virtually with a time to be determined.

Ellen Hampton Filgo, Chair, RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee, 2011-2012
Ellen_Filgo@baylor.edu

Local Systems and Services committee

The MARS Local Systems and Services Committee program Discovery Systems: The Promise and the Reality was extremely successful. We had over 100 people in attendance. The speakers shared their experiences with discovery services such as Serial Solutions Summons, Ex-Libris’ Primo and EBSCO’s Discovery Service.

Chanitra Bishop, Chair, Local Systems and Services committee, 2012-2013
chbishop@indiana.edu

Best Free Reference Websites committee

The MARS Best Free Reference Websites for 2012 have been notified and the complete list is now available on the MARS website. Voted for by member librarians from around the United States, the twenty-six web sites were selected from seventy-seven sites nominated this year. These sites have been recognized by MARS this year as an outstanding site for reference information. The complete list of MARS Best of Free Reference Web Sites of 2012 is now available on the MARS site. We would like to congratulate these sites and thank them for providing quality information.

We would also like to thank the committee for the terrific collection of web sites that were nominated and for their participation in selecting the best sites for 2012.

Donna Scanlon (dscanlon@loc.gov) & Erica Danowitz, MARS Best Free Reference Websites
Co-Chairs, 2011-2013

To subscribe to MARS-L, see http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l

From the Chair

Message from MARS, the Newsletter of the RUSA MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference Section

Missy Clapp, Editor


The Emerging Technologies in Reference Section (MARS) is looking forward to an exciting Annual Conference in Anaheim! Please join us during our hosted events which will focus on engaging technologies of current interest in reference. We will host three programs, two discussion forums, and the MARS Happy Hour. A brief overview of these gatherings is provided below.

We are honored that the MARS Chairs Program has been selected to also serve as the RUSA Presidents Program this year. The program is entitled Library in Your Hand: Mobile Technologies for Exchanging Information with Patrons. The event will highlight the importance of libraries supporting mobile technologies for the dissemination and acquisition of information. Examples of practical applications being used in libraries will be discussed by our speakers. The program will be held on Sunday, June 24, from 10:30 AM-12:00 PM at the Anaheim Convention Center in room 204B. At the start of the program, we will honor Carolyn Larson, this years recipient of the My Favorite Martian Award, for her hard work and dedication to MARS over the years.

The MARS/RSS Virtual Reference Services Committee will present a program entitled Are Virtual Reference Services Worth the Effort? What ROI Analysis and User Evaluations Tell Us. Examples of ways to assess the effectiveness of virtual reference services will be discussed. Join us for this enlightening discussion, which will be held on Saturday, June 23 from 1:30-3:30 PM at the Anaheim Convention Center in room 201D.

The MARS Local Systems and Services Committee will present a program entitled Discovery Systems: The Promise and the Reality. The effectiveness of discovery systems such as WorldCat Local and others will be explored. The program will be held on Sunday, June 24 from 4:00-5:30 PM at the Anaheim Convention Center in Room 304AB. In addition to these programs, both the Hot Topics in Electronic Reference Discussion Group and the Virtual Reference Discussion Group will host engaging discussion forums.

The MARS Happy Hour is always a wonderful way to enjoy refreshments while meeting newcomers interested in MARS and old friends who have been part of MARS for years! This event will be held at the Anabella Hotel, poolside in the Magnolia Room on Saturday, June 23 from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

As is tradition, the MARS All-Committee meeting will be held on Sunday morning from 8:00-10:0 AM, and we would love to invite those who are interested in learning more about the Emerging Technologies in Reference Section. Youll have the opportunity to hear about the activities of our committees and the wonderful volunteer opportunities that match your interests. All visitors are welcome to join us. The meeting will be held at the Hilton Anaheim Hotel in the Pacific A Room.

Other MARS activities include the creation of this years list of the Best Free Reference Websites, which will be published in the Fall issue of RUSQ. The Professional Development Committee has produced a number of webinars and has a subcommittee working with RSS in the production of a workshop that will be held at the start of the 2013 Midwinter Meeting. In addition, the Products and Services Committee has continued its work to produce product reviews that are beneficial to reference librarians.

We welcome your interest in MARS. If you would like to learn more about MARS and how you can become involved, please contact me (mckellar@udel.edu) for more information.

Dianna McKellar
MARS Chair, 2011-2012

Carolyn Larson to receive My Favorite Martian Award

Carolyn Larson, Head of the Business Reference Section, in the Science, Technology & Business Division, Library of Congress, is the 2012 recipient of the MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference Section Recognition Certificate, also known as the My Favorite Martian Award. The award is given to an individual to recognize excellence in service to MARS.

An active member of MARS, Carolyn, in addition to serving on several MARS committees, has served as MARS Chair, Vice-Chair, and Past Chair. During her term as MARS Chair, Carolyn expertly led the section through transition that included an unanticipated leadership change, and a significant name and mission change for the section. Carolyn was really a stabilizing force during this period. Dianna McKellar, MARS Chair, writes, Carolyn, your dedication to the profession and to MARS is recognized and appreciated! We thank you for your excellent service.

The certificate will be presented at the 2012 RUSA President’s Program/MARS Chairs Program, Library in Your Hand: Mobile Technologies for Exchanging Information with Patrons, on Sunday, June 24, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM, during the 2012 ALA Annual Conference held in Anaheim, California; acknowledgment also to be made at the RUSA Awards Ceremony & Reception, Sunday, June 24, 2012, 5:00-6:30 PM during the 2012 ALA Annual Conference. Larson also will be honored at the RUSA Awards program.

Shannon Jones
sdjones@vcu.edu

MARS Chairs Program

The MARS Conference Program Planning Committee has produced a program on the use of mobile devices in libraries as communication tools between librarians and library patrons. The program, which will serve as both the RUSA Presidents Program and the MARS Chairs Program, is entitled Library in Your Hand: Mobile Technologies for Exchanging Information with Patrons.

Mobile devices are increasingly being used to provide libraries with the opportunity to disperse information at the exact point of need. This program will explore the importance of libraries supporting mobile technologies for the dissemination and acquisition of information. Examples of such projects currently being implemented in libraries will be discussed by our panel of speakers. Joan Lippincott, Associate Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, will speak about why libraries should embrace communicating with patrons through mobile devices. Kristin Antelman, Associate Director for the Digital Library at NCSU Libraries, will speak about mobile initiatives at NCSU including WolfWalk, a photographic guide to the history of NCSU optimized for mobile devices. David Lee King, Digital Branch & Services Manager at the Topeka Public Library, will discuss the social media used to communicate with patrons at the Topeka Public Library.

The session will be held on Sunday, June 24 from 10:30 AM-12:00 PM at the Anaheim Convention Center in room 204B. Hope to see you there!

Matt Torrence, Chair, Chairs Program Committee
torrence@usf.edu

Happy Hour 2012

Join the RUSA MARS Emerging Technologies in Reference Section for our annual Happy Hour! The MARS social event of the year, the Happy Hour is ideal for anyone interested in meeting "Martians" and learning about the work of MARS in a relaxed, festive environment. Newcomers and old friends alike: all are welcome. Eat, drink, and mingle just steps from the Convention Center.

MARS Happy Hour
Saturday, June 23, 2012
5:00 PM- 7:00 PM

Magnolia Room & Quiet Pool at the Anabella Hotel
1030 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim, CA 92802
(adjacent to the Convention Center)

Complimentary appetizers and cash bar.

The 2012 MARS Happy Hour is generously sponsored by EBSCO Publishing.

Arlie Sims, Chair, Outreach
asims@colum.edu

Professional Development Committee

An exciting new system, Blackboard Collaborate, has been put into place by RUSA for RUSA members to deliver online meetings, training sessions, and webinars. Recently, the MARS Professional Development (PD) committee has been charged with assisting in the process of identifying and developing relevant training materials for this new system. Blackboard Collaborate will replace GoToMeeting. Already, MARS PD committee members have attended one training session to become familiar with the system and there are plans to identify appropriate and helpful online tutorials as well as develop a set of best practices for using this new tool in our virtual meetings and webinar presentations.

The other major committee effort is the transformation of the joint RSS/MARS Preconference into a new workshop format which will be free to all registrants at the 2013 Midwinter Conference in Seattle. A location has been selected and content ideas are being considered based on the general theme, "New Technology for Reference from the Reference Interview to Roving Reference." Some specific content ideas include using Twitter and Facebook for the reference interview, portable devices like the iPad for roving reference, and reflections on how well "web 2.0" is delivering on promises for improving reference services. For further information, please contact Stephanie Alexander (stephanie.alexander@usc.edu) who is leading this subcommittee.

MARS PD continued to support professional development opportunities by sponsoring the RUSA webinar on "Introduction to Screencasting for Online Tutorials and Reference" on Dec. 16 and March 13. Our role has involved both moderating and co-presenting this webinar.

MARS PD welcomes and encourages MARS members in the submission of ideas for webinars. A form with guidelines is currently being developed. Until then, please send any webinar ideas to Nancy Cunningham (nancy@usf.edu), Chair of MARS Professional Development.

Nancy Cunningham, Chair
nancy@usf.edu

Virtual Reference Discussion Forum at ALA Annual

4:00-5:30 PM, Saturday, June 23, 2012; Anaheim Convention Center, Room 201B

Discussion topic: "A Glimpse into the Near Future: Whats Next for Virtual Reference"

Passionate about virtual reference? Virtual Reference is now an integral part of library servicesand it is constantly changing with new and emerging technologies. Come to VRDG with your dilemmas, victories, stalemates, puzzles, and experiments. Find out what is working, what’s not working and what we are all waiting onnovice or expert, all are welcome. Become part of the conversation online at ALA Connect and in-person at ALA Annual.

Committee News for VRDG
Meetings: Given the difficulty of finding times for synchronous online meetings that the majority of the committees members can attend, the committee has switched to e-mail for conducting its business.

Planning for ALA Annual 2012: In early February, the committee brainstormed topic ideas for the Virtual Reference Discussion Forum at ALA Annual 2012. The suggestions included whats next for virtual reference, apps for virtual reference, and augmented reality for virtual reference. The committee selected augmented reality for virtual reference, received MARS Executive Committee approval for the topic, recruited Nate Hill to serve as kick-off speaker, and submitted a customized description for inclusion in ALAs online conference schedule. Unfortunately, Nate subsequently had a conflict requiring him to cancel his trip to ALA Annual. The committee decided to switch its topic to whats next for virtual reference and received MARS Executive Committee approval to do so. The committee is currently deciding on whom to invite to serve as a kick-off speaker for the forum. Once we have identified a speaker, we will develop a promotional strategy and begin advertising the forum.

Membership update: Officers for July 2012-June 2013 will be: Chair, Henry Bankhead; Vice-Chair, Julie Piacentine; Secretary, Jessica Sender. Returning members will be: Robert Metrick and Amanda Powers.

Jason Coleman, Chair, Virtual Reference Discussion Planning Committee
coleman@k-state.edu

To subscribe to MARS-L, see http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l

Spring Election 2012

The slate of candidates up for election for MARS offices this Spring are:

For Vice Chair/Chair Elect (Vote for One):

Marilyn N. Ochoa

Samuel R. Stormont

For Member-at-Large (Three year Term: Vote for One):

Bryna R. Coonin

Courtney Greene

For Secretary (Two Year Term: Vote for One)

Colleen Seale

Kelley Ann Lawton

We are also pleased to have two former MARS Chairs running for RUSA office. Anne Houston is running for RUSA Division Councilor and Kathleen Kern, for President of RUSA. Full information on the nominees for RUSA and its Sections is available in ALA Connect.

Voting will run from mid-March to mid-April. Be looking for announcements soon with the specific dates, and please vote!

MARS Nominating Committee 2011-2012

Carolyn Larson, Chair
Mary Mintz
Linda Keiter
Kimberley Vassiliadis

Virtual Reference Discussion Group Planning Committee

The Virtual Reference Discussion Group Planning Committee is currently discussing topic ideas for its Discussion Forum at ALA Annual. After the committee finalizes a topic and identifies a kick-off speaker, it will begin work on the following two projects:

? Update the committees public page on the ALA website. The page will 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.

Jason Coleman, Chair

Outreach Committee

The MARS Happy Hour at ALA Annual will be held on Saturday, June 23, 5:00-7:00 pm. This is our chance to relax, network and welcome new and potential members and others interested in the work of MARS. Location and other details to be announced soon!

Arlie Sims, Chair

RUSA MARS Products & Services committee: Statistics and Analytics: Ways to Record Library Interactions

How do we know if our library community is using the programs or services that our library offers? How do we know if our time is well spent in staffing these services? What products are put there that can help us record and use all of this information to help improve or develop new resources or services to engage our library patrons? RUSA MARS Products & Services Committee has put together reviews of different options for libraries to track all sorts of stats. Find them on the MARS blog: http://etmars.wordpress.com.

If there are questions about a specific product/service, please contact the reviewer directly. If there are suggestions for other products to review, please contact the Chair of the Products & Services committee, Ngoc-Yen Tran at nttran[at]callutheran.edu.

Ngoc-Yen Tran, Chair

Professional Development Committee

The new MARS Professional Development Committee is off and running! The newly formed committee, consisting of both the Education, Support and Training (ETS) and Professional Development (PD) Committee members, has been meeting virtually on a monthly basis since last fall. The purpose in joining the two committees is to eliminate duplicative efforts, strengthen the potential for more activity, and launch new initiatives for MARS members. In addition, the work of the joint preconference planning committee (MARS/RSS) now belongs to a subcommittee of MARS PD. The chair of this new subcommittee is Stephanie Alexander. The focus of the committees work so far has been the deployment of webinars. Two webinars, Introduction to Screencasting for Online Tutorials and Reference, were organized and sponsored by MARS PD and presented in August and December 2011. Both webinars had approximately sixty attendees and received very positive feedback. In the upcoming months, the committee will again launch a repeat of Introduction to Screencasting and develop a robust FAQ list to help all MARS members present and deploy professional development webinars with the support and assistance of the committee. Look forward to new and exciting professional development and training webinars from MARS PD!

Nancy A. Cunningham, Chair

MARS/RSS Virtual Reference Services Committee

The MARS/RSS Virtual Reference Services Committee held its virtual midwinter meeting on Friday, December 16, 2011. Minutes of the meeting are available at http://connect.ala.org/node/150606 and a recording at http://connect.ala.org/node/161596.

The Committee is hosting a program at ALA Annual 2012 entitled “Are virtual reference services worth the effort? What ROI Analysis and User Evaluations Tell Us.” Panelists are confirmed and a high profile moderator has given tentative confirmation to serve as moderator. Stay tuned to ALA Connect for more details.

The committee will be discussing ideas for the 2013 ALA Annual via email and other means. The focus currently under consideration is to do something with gadgets or technology since the last several Annual programs have focused on other “soft” aspects of virtual reference service.

In keeping with its goals, the Committee has created the “RUSA MARS/RSS VR Committee Survey Ad Hoc Group.” Jason Coleman, an active member of the Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee as well as Undergraduate & Community Services Librarian at Kansas State University, has volunteered to lead the new group. They are charged with conducting an online survey to assess the distribution and logistics of virtual reference services in libraries. Jason has asked individuals interested in working on the project to contact him at coleman@k-state.edu as soon as possible.

The Committee members are also exploring ways to update existing virtual reference content in online venues like Wikipedia, LISWiki, LibSuccess, etc. Options under consideration include sponsoring a Wikipedia “Edit-a-thon” at Annual Conference, creating a Twitter hashtag, inaugurating a Google Group, etc.

Donald Boozer, Chair
dboozer@cpl.org

Message From the Chair

Message from MARS

Newsletter of the RUSA-MARS Emerging Technologies in Reference Section

Melissa J. Clapp, Editor

 

MARS had a very productive Midwinter Meeting. This was the first Midwinter Meeting at which MARS largely participated virtually. Committees, other than the Executive Committee, had the option of meeting in-person or meeting virtually prior to Midwinter and sending in a report that would be discussed during the Executive Committee meetings, which were held in-person. This seemed to work well for committees. Two committees opted to meet in-person during Midwinter, while other committees chose to meet virtually. Of course, committees that presented discussion forums did send committee representatives to conduct the forums.

In total, three MARS discussion forums were held during Midwinter. Hot Topics presented a wonderful discussion forum entitled Reaching out to Patrons in Virtual Ways: Old School Successes and New Initiatives. The Virtual Reference Discussion Group held an engaging discussion forum entitled UX + VR FTW, which explored user experience as it pertains to virtual reference. Local Systems and Services presented a stimulating discussion forum entitled The Learning Commons and the Academic Library: Using Emerging Technologies and New Partnerships to Build Student Success.

In addition to the MARS gatherings, RUSA held its Annual Membership Social. The RUSA Social was very well attended. It provided a wonderful opportunity to chat with RUSA friends as well as meet and welcome new RUSA members. The Midwinter Meeting proved to be very informative, and MARS is looking forward to an equally engaging Annual Conference.

Warm Regards,

Dianna McKellar
MARS Chair, 2011-2012

MARS Chairs Program Planning Committee

The MARS Chairs Program Planning Committee has been steadfastly working towards organizing a program that will be presented at the Annual ALA Conference. The program, which has been selected to serve as the 2012 RUSA Presidents Program, is entitled Library in Your Hand: Mobile Technologies for Exchanging Information with Patrons. This program will explore the importance of libraries supporting mobile technologies for the dissemination and acquisition of information. Joan Lippincott, Associate Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, will speak about why libraries should embrace communicating with patrons through mobile devices. Kristin Antelman, Associate Director for the Digital Library at North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries, will speak about mobile initiatives at NCSU including WolfWalk, a photographic guide to the history of NCSU optimized for mobile devices. David Lee King, Digital Branch & Services Manager at the Topeka Public Library, will discuss the library app and social media used to communicate with patrons at the Topeka Public Library.

Dianna McKellar, MARS Chair

RUSA MARS Virtual Reference Discussion Planning Committee

Conference report for 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting, Dallas, TX

Discussion topic: “UX + VR FTW”

Courtney Greene, Head of Digital User Experience at Indiana University Libraries-Bloomington, opened the Virtual Reference Discussion Forum by describing general principles of designing for user experience and examining how those might apply to virtual reference. She emphasized the need to go beyond supposition and assumptions by gathering information from patrons through a variety of means including usability testing, focus groups, and web analytics. Greene also illustrated how her library used UX principles to create multiple IM widget access points for users and corresponding queues for library operators. Her presentation slides are available on Slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/xocg/ux-vr-ftw-mars-vrdg-alamw12. Following Courtneys presentation, there was a lengthy question and answer session that involved sharing of ideas and best practices.

A total of fifty-two people attended the session. Twenty-three of the attendees completed an evaluation form. The feedback was extremely positive, with many respondents expressing appreciation for Courtneys enthusiasm and expertise. They expressed a strong desire to continue learning more about UX and its implications for VR.

Messages from MARS: The Newsletter of the RUSA-MARS Emerging Technologies in Reference Section

Melissa J. Clapp, Editor

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Message From the Chair

Greetings!

The months seem to be flying by, and we are fast approaching the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Winter of 2012 marks the first time that MARS will use a modified system of meeting during Midwinter. Committees, other than the Executive Committee, will be given the option of meeting in person during Midwinter or meeting virtually prior to Midwinter and submitting a report of committee activities to the Executive Committee by Friday, January 6. The Executive Committee will meet in person during Midwinter and will refer to committee reports to conduct business during each meeting. This is a pilot program, and it will be very interesting to gather feedback following Midwinter to gauge the general response from members of MARS.

The RUSA Membership Social will be held on Saturday, January 21. This event allows RUSA members and prospective members to meet and mingle while learning more about RUSA. I encourage you to attend if you are able to do so. The social is a highlight for RUSA during the Midwinter Meeting.

There will also be three very interesting discussion forums during Midwinter. Please show your support if you are attending the Conference. The Hot Topics in Electronic Reference Discussion Group will host a discussion forum on Saturday, January 21 from 1:30-3:30 pm entitled Reaching out to Patrons in Virtual Ways: Old School Successes and New Initiatives.

The Local Systems and Services Committee will host a discussion on Sunday, January 22 from 4:00-5:30 pm. entitled The Learning Commons and the Academic Library: Using Emerging Technologies and New Partnerships to Build Student Success.

The Virtual Reference Discussion Group will host a discussion forum on Saturday, January 22 from 4:00-5:30 pm entitled “UX + VR FTW.” Read more about each of the discussion forums in the descriptions below. Please join us if you can!

Warm Regards,

Dianna McKellar

MARS 2011-2012

MARS Professional Development Committee

With the merger of the Education, Training and Support with Professional Development (PD), MARS now has a new Super Committee. Take a look at our membership herd at our new ALA Connect site.

The PD Committee sponsored the first webinar for RUSA on August 2, 2011! Using GoToWebinar software recently licensed by RUSA, this webinar was an Introduction to Screencasting Tutorials based on content from a previous MARS program during Annual 2010. There were over forty attendees and plans to repeat this session are tentatively scheduled for December 16. We still have some growing to do in planning and executing webinars, but the potential is enormous and the support from RUSA is fantastic.

If you have any ideas for a MARS webinar, please contact Nancy Cunningham, Chair of Professional Development (nancy@usf.edu). The committee will be working on developing future webinars that shoujld be of value to ALA members. We are also interested in training other MARS commitees on the process and best practices for implementing webinars. Professional development is something that every MARS committee offers. We are eager to partner with any other committee and have lots of able members.

PD members also volunteered to participate in a joint RSS/MARS Subcommittee to plan preconference sessions. Both MARS and RSS intend to offer affordable professional development sessions as preconferences by finding locations and presenters that support our educational efforts without high fees. Got a great idea for a preconference? Please let Nancy know about it and she will pass it along.

Our committee held its first virtual meeting in October using GoToWebinar software! We found this to be an effective and fun way to conduct committee business. Members can record notes, visit websites, respond by voice or chatthe ultimate communication experience. No more scrambling at Midwinter to share ideas. We intend to continue having regular virtual meetings to help us stay on track with planning activities. Using the webinar software for virtual meetings also helps us improve our technical skills. Some of the challenges to virtual meetings have been scheduling, which required using Doodle to determine best meeting times and troubleshooting during the session. However the support from RUSA has been excellent and our committee will gain more experience as these virtual meetings become routine.

Van Houlson, Co-Chair

RUSA MARS Virtual Reference Discussion Planning Committee Update

Saturday, January 21st 2012 4:00-5:30 pm

Location: Dallas Convention Center, V304

The title of the Virtual Reference Discussion Group is “UX + VR FTW”

Courtney Greene, Head of Digital User Experience (DUX) at Indiana University Bloomington Libraries, will begin the forum by discussing what happens when user experience meets virtual reference. She will argue that libraries are in the user experience businessthat our users’ needs are at the forefront of everything we do. Greene will describe a recent reorganization that has led DUX to take on a more active role in supporting and managing virtual reference (VR) tools at IUB Libraries: IM via LibraryH3lp, text reference via Google Voice, and a newly re-designed mobile site. She will share how she and her team have worked to balance the advantages of centralized management of VR services (for over a dozen service points across campus) with the importance of staying closely connected to librarians in the field, on the ground and at the desk. She will also discuss how the mobile redesign increased access to research apps and how users have responded to the changes. After Greene’s presentation we will discuss her ideas and other emerging technologies for virtual reference.

Committee News:

The Virtual Reference Discussion Planning Committee has held three online meetings since ALA Annual, 2011: July 27, 2011, August 8, 2011, September 28, 2011. With the committees expanded membership (from 3 members to 7 members), it is proving difficult to find meeting times and meeting platforms that work well for all members. The committee has been using MegaMeeting or Google + Hangouts for synchronous online meetings, and Google Docs for asynchronous sharing of ideas.

Jason Coleman, Chair

Message from the MARS Chair

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

Greetings!

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, lets 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 Chairs 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 paneliststhe 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 years gathering was held at Mulates Restaurant. It was a wonderful way to conclude the daygreat 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 Chairs Program and the RUSA Awards Reception. Congratulations Linda!

Now lets 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 workshopsbased 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 committees 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 mckellar@udel.edu.

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. Id 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 its 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, EDanowitz@dccc.edu
Donna Scanlon, Co-Chair, dscanlon@oc.gov

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 ROIher humor and pull-no-punches style made for as provocative and lively a discussion on those topics as Ive 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
crgreene@indiana.edu

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
houls001@umn.edu

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 (torrence@usf.edu) and Lindsay Johnston (lindsay.johnston@ualberta.ca).

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 nttran@callutheran.edu 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 co-wrote 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 Carbondales iPads at Morris LibGuide for additional information, including a list of apps installed on their iPads.

Group Discussion:
Following Stephanies 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 Springshares 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 committees 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,
Ellen_Filgo@baylor.edu

 

To subscribe to MARS-L, see http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l

Hot Topics – How are We Measuring up? Using New Technology to Schedule, Standardize, and Assess Reference Services

Saturday, June 25 from 10:30 am 12:00 pm; Doubletree Hotel, Madewood A

Please join us for the Hot Topics Discussion Forum (MARS): How are We Measuring up? Using New Technology to Schedule, Standardize, and Assess Reference Services. Speakers will demonstrate a variety of inventive, original, and efficient ways to study and accommodate changes in user preferences, locations, and modes of communication when seeking reference and research services. Presentations are in panel format, but are relatively informal and are intended to jumpstart discussion among the attendees.

Matt Torrence, Chair
torrence@usf.edu

To subscribe to MARS-L, see http://lists.ala.org/wws/info/mars-l