Category: RUSA Committees

RUSA Committee Reports

Just Ask Task Force
The Just Ask Task Force has continued to meet since ALA Annual and have been discussing its future goals. The Task Force is developing social media tools that reference staff can use to highlight what they do, including a #JustAsk social media campaign. Reference staff would be encouraged to Tweet some of their most interesting questions using the #JustAsk hashtag. We are hoping to compile these as a way to highlight the variety of questions we receive. Said another way, it’s a way to tell our story. Stay tuned for more details.

Midwinter Meeting:
Task Force Meeting: The Task Force will be meeting on Saturday January 31 from 1:00-2:00 PM, location to be determined. The meeting is open to anyone.

Elizabeth Stephan
Diana Shonrock


Professional Development Committee
The Professional Development Committee (PDC) provides leadership and coordination of learning opportunities beyond the geographic constraints of conference meetings. This year the committee already reviewed proposals for online courses and webinars. Peruse the outstanding new offerings and register for one or more of these great learning opportunities We are excited to announce that RUSA Executive Committee once again agreed to offer each section one free webinar in calendar year 2015. The PDC will review the proposals in spring 2015 but now is the time to start thinking about submitting a proposal. Stay tuned for the call for proposals and deadlines.

Elizabeth Kline, chair

RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee
The RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee (CPCC) will be meeting at ALA Midwinter in Chicago on Sunday, February 1, 1-2:30 pm to discuss logistics, priorities, and projects. However, the “rubber will really hit the road” beginning in May 2015. Be on the lookout for the RUSA announcement for program submissions for ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Once announced, the deadline for submissions will be May 1, 2015! So, it’s never too early for RUSA Sections to begin thinking about program offerings in Orlando. Currently, each section has one slot available for a program offering, but, as additional details become available, we’ll be keeping everyone informed. If any section chairs have questions about 2016 programming, feel free to communicate these to your liaison and we’ll get answers for you. The current CPCC roster is available at

RUSA CPCC will also be having a pre-Midwinter online meeting with a meeting time to be announced to kick off the 2014-15 committee’s activities.

Don Boozer, chair 2014-15

RUSA Membership
In a new initiative, RUSA Membership has been holding monthly sessions of a virtual RUSA 101 on the second Thursday of the month. Not only does Joe Thompson, current RUSA President join, but we’ve also had Tina Baich, Chair of STARS, Qiana Johnson, Chair of RSS; Jenny Presnell, Chair of History; Ed Kownslar for RUSA Awards; Todd Hines, Chair of BRASS; and Stephanie Graves, Chair of MARS. Thank you to all of these amazing volunteers! We’ve averaged 15 people at every session which has been amazing! (And if you’re interested in guest starring–send Ann Brown an email at

We’re going to start RUSA 201 in December. This will be a virtual session aimed at people already in RUSA and on Section Committees. Watch the listservs for an announcement!

Ann Brown, chair

RUSA Committee Reports

Just Ask Task Force

A pared-down Just Ask group met at ALA Annual to discuss the next steps. After several successful ventures during the last year, it was decided that the group would focus on external Reference advocacy efforts. Using Maryland’s AskUsNow pilot of the ASK Campaign, members of Just Ask will develop a marketing plan and working with RUSA marketing to develop a national ASK Campaign featuring promotional items that librarians and libraries could use to promote reference services. Initial thoughts for the campaign were ASK posters featuring real questions asked by library users. The goal is to have a plan and advocacy toolkit ready to present at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference.

Elizabeth Stephan
Diana Shonrock


RUSA Committees

Just Ask Task Force
The Just Ask Task Force will be meeting at Annual to follow up on its meeting at Midwinter. We hope to revisit some of the ideas and plan for some future events and develop some long term planning. To review what was done at Annual, please see the Spring issue of RUSA Update. Guests are welcome to attend.

Meeting Time: Sunday, June 29; 1:00-2:30
Location: Las Vegas Convention Center, room N211

Diana Shonrock and Elizabeth Stephan, Co-chairs

RUSA Committee Reports

Just Ask Task Force
At ALA Midwinter, the Just Ask Task Force met to discuss the follow-up to the Managing Changes to Reference Services delivered by Gail Griffith on December 4th, 2013 and the next steps. The registration went smoothly for the first webinar, and the 100 spaces were filled in less than a day. Sixty-seven people actually attended and registrants were from all types of libraries; mainly academic, but including twelve public librarians and nine special librarians as well as two students. The committee members and guests gathered agreed that we should work to increase the number of people from the smaller groups. Webinar attendees indicated a strong interest in having RUSA do more of these Webinars and suggested a variety of topics. Those most often listed include: a series of webinars on change management, a webinar on planning marketing and outreach, a webinar of case studies of innovative changes in reference in libraries other than their own, and a webinar on how to best show the value of the things they do.

The second of two Just Ask-sponsored webinars, “Got a Minute?: How to Prepare your Parking Lot Speech,” was on February 12. It sold out and attendance was strong; a recording to the webinar can be found here.

The Midwinter discussion followed on how to move forward with this information and create new programming that advances the charge of this task force.

  • Create a RUSA vision of the reference/ information professionals and the services they provide
  • Communicate that vision by advocating for reference librarians
  • Provide access and creative resources for librarians to engage in that advocacy

Several ideas were discussed by the members and guests present at the meeting, and the following three areas were seen as areas for the task force to move within the current charge which is somewhat broad.

  1. Clarify the charge of the Task Force to assure we are on course.
  2. Determine the feasibility of creating a National Reference Services Week or a Virtual Reference Day possibly in September.
  3. Create a RUSA online course that builds on the suggestions from the free webinars; and the data from the PEW report “How Americans Value Libraries in their Communities” The Committee will do a conference call this spring to flesh this out completely.
  4. Continue to develop the Ask Campaign based on the Maryland pilot project – discussion included creating posters kits like the READ Campaign only having the poster split diagonally and have a community member on one half and a reference librarian on the other half with a question and answer.
  5. The Online access to the two webinars already presented are available:

A meeting of the Just Ask Task Force at ALA Annual has been scheduled for Sunday June 29 from 1:00-2:30 PM, location TBD.

Diana Shonrock and Elizabeth Stephan
Just Ask Co-chairs

RUSA Committees

Just Ask Task Force
The Just Ask Task Force has been planning two upcoming free webinars. “Managing Changes to Reference Services” featuring Gail Griffith was held on December 4. The webinar was full, so for those not able to attend, a recording will be available. The second webinar titled, “Got a minute?: How to Prepare Your Parking Lot Speech,” time and date to be determined later.

Elizabeth Stephan
Diana Shonrock


RUSA Committees

Just Ask

Just Ask met at ALA Annual to review what had been done since Midwinter in Seattle. The Ask Campaign has been piloted by Cathay Crosby and Julie Strange as a way to promote Maryland’s JustAskNow service. The Ask Campaign is a series of posters with library users holding a question asked at the library, similar to the READ posters. We hope that this project will lead to a national campaign. You can read more about Crosby and Strange’s pilot on ALA Connect and on the JustAskNow page. We are also planning at least one free webinar that will be focused on change and how it can specifically be applied to reference services.

Elizabeth Stephan, Co-Chair
Diana Shonrock, Co-Chair

RUSA Committees

RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee
As of this writing, the proposal form for 2014 Midwinter Institutes and 2014 Preconferences and Programs was about to close on May 15. The committee is preparing to review the proposals in advance of its next meeting on Friday, May 24. Recommendations will then be sent on to RUSA Board so that it can approve the slate of programs and budgets when it meets in Chicago during this year’s Annual Conference.

Many thanks go to this year’s CPCC members, who have worked through so many of the questions that followed the release of last year’s ALA Conference Changes Roadmap. It has been a great team effort!

ALA Annual 2013 in Chicago is almost here! See RUSA President Mary Popp’s report for a review of the fifteen fantastic programs organized by RUSA sections and committees, as well as the Business Reference 101 preconference from BRASS on Friday, June 28.

Joe Thompson, Chair

RUSA President’s Program Planning Committee
The committee is putting together the final pieces of this year’s RUSA President’s Program—one of the major events at this year’s ALA Annual Conference. We hope to see you at the program on Saturday, as well as the Sunday morning discussion! See below for details.

Saturday, June 29, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program

Just how well do you know the people who use your library? Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and co-author of Networked: The New Social Operating System, shares the latest data about how our clientele are interacting with information technology. Learn about patron preferences and behaviors during this program. Then, join Rainie and library leaders on Sunday, 10:30-11:30 A.M. to discuss how the data will influence your library’s future. #rusapres13

Sunday, June 30, 10:30-11:30 A.M.

The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The Discussion Continues

The discussion continues following the previous day’s RUSA President’s Program! Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, returns to participate in a discussion with library leaders featuring Emily Ford, David Lankes, Marie Radford, and Joyce Valenza. We will discuss how the Pew data will influence your library’s future. #rusapres13

Joe Thompson and Mary Mintz, co-chairs

RUSA Just Ask
RUSA’s Just Ask Committee has been working on several projects, including an upcoming webinar on how to manage change. Several of our members, Julie Strange and Cathay Crosby, have been working on a pilot Ask Campaign. Strange, Statewide Coordinator or Maryland’s JustAskNow!, and Crosby, Operations Assistant of JustAskNow!, used the tenth anniversary of the service as a starting point. Their Ask Campaign, loosely based on the READ campaign, will feature library patrons holding a sign with a question asked through JustAskNow!. These will be turned into materials used to promote reference service. Crosby posted about their experience in ALA Connect along with some more background info on the JustAskNow! website.

Elizabeth Stephan and Diana Schonrock, co-chairs

RUSA Committees

RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee
The RUSA sections and committees will be presenting fifteen fantastic programs at Annual Conference 2013 in Chicago, as well as the Business Reference 101 preconference from BRASS on Friday, June 28. Register now at

The preliminary RUSA program schedule for Annual 2013 in Chicago:

Friday, June 28
8:00 am-4:00 pm
Preconference: Business Reference 101: Core Competencies for Business Librarianship
[Special registration required]

Saturday, June 29

  • 8:30 -10:00 A.M.
    Collection Development & Community Expectations: Managing collections and balancing resources in an era of budgetary constraints
  • 10:30 -11:30 A.M.
    Beyond Genre: Exploring the Perception, Uses, and Misuses of Genre by Readers, Writers, and Librarians
  • 10:30 -11:30 A.M.
    Smart investing@your library: Community Connector
  • 1:00 -2:30 A.M.
    19th Annual Reference Research Forum
  • 1:00 -2:30 P.M.
    Enhancing services through integration of Interlibrary Loan and Acquisitions
  • 4:00 – 5:30 P.M.
    The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program

Sunday, June 30

  • 8:30 am-10:00 A.M.
    Library Engagement in National History Day Activities
  • 8:30 am-10:00 A.M.
    Literary Tastes
  • 10:30 am-11:30 A.M.
    Does Your Data Deliver for Decision Making?: New Directions for Resource Sharing Assessment
  • 1:00 pm-2:30 pm
    MARS Chair’s Program: Usability, the User Experience & Interface Design: The Role of Reference
  • 1:00 pm-2:30 P.M.
    Different Strokes: Serving the Health Information Needs of a Diverse Community
  • 1:00 pm-2:30 P.M.
    Digital History: New Methodologies Facilitated by New Technologies
  • 3:00 pm-4:00 P.M.
    Leveraging Open Source Software to Create Library Websites

Monday, July 1

  • 8:30 am-10:00 A.M.
    Investment Success! Building & Managing Your Retirement Portfolio
  • 10:30 am-11:30 A.M.
    Preserving Labor’s History

This year the committee has focused much of its attention on ALA Annual Conference 2014 in Las Vegas. Over the fall the committee met twice using RUSA’s Blackboard Collaborate room. We then met in-person during ALA Midwinter in Seattle.

In response to ALA’s Conference Changes Roadmap, the committee has developed a set of recommendations that will impact 2014 Annual Conference programming. Earlier decisions by RUSA Board were used as our starting point. These recommendations were approved by the RUSA Board during ALA Midwinter in Seattle:

  1. Literary Tastes will take the place of “Another RUSA Committee” as a guaranteed program slot.
  2. Each section will be allotted one guaranteed program slot (as opposed to the current guaranteed two programs) with the possibility of additional programs if RUSA receives more options from ALA.
  3. The Executive Committee and CPCC will encourage all sections to consider co-sponsoring programs.
  4. Sections may need to consider diverting program ideas to discussions (face to face or online).
  5. The CPCC will develop a rating tool to approve programs proposed by RUSA sections if additional program slots are available beyond those that are guaranteed.
  6. The RUSA office will develop a process for program organizers to submit an evaluation following every program, which will include attendance numbers. This information will thereafter be available to the CPCC and program planners.

As of this writing, we do not yet know how many programs RUSA will be able to offer at the 2014 Annual Conference. RUSA sections should proceed on developing multiple program proposals with the understanding that at least one should be able to be presented at the conference, and maybe more!

Many thanks to the committee for their teamwork and cooperation!

-Joe Thompson, chair

Just Ask: Defining and Advocating for the Reference Librarian
The Just Ask discussion group, sponsored by RSS, was intended to help the Just Ask committee create a RUSA member-influenced vision of both, which in turn will assist the organization in advocating more effectively for the support and development of quality reference services. Just Ask Committee will further discuss the results of the discussion group at a virtual meeting held after Midwinter.

The discussion was centered around three questions:

  • What do you see as the new or changing roles of reference/information librarians?
  • How might this differ by the type of library?
  • What kind of support (i.e., advocacy, tool kits) will you need to make the public aware of these changing rolls?

With forty-five people in attendance, small groups discussed these questions and then presented their ideas back to the main group.

Some of the themes brought up during the discussion (this is not an exhaustive list): Our roles haven’t changed, but the tools have; services needed to be taken directly to our communities; we need to be better advocates for ourselves and our services.

Some suggestions for what RUSA can do to help: A national marketing campaign, and webinars for library staff related to developing advocacy tools, like elevator speeches.

If you are interested in contributing to the conversation, please contribute your thoughts to the Just Ask forum.

Elizabeth Stephan, co-chair

Committee on Professional Ethics

Chair from Committee on Professional Ethics Wants to Hear from YOU.

Based on recent requests to the committee for assistance in two areas, we’re working on developing two new explanatory statements for the ALA Code of Ethics. These areas are: Ethics and Social Media Conflicts of Interest. These explanatory statements will take the form of a question & answer document. We currently have two in this format on workplace speech (also being updated) and on enforcement of the Code of Ethics. To see these examples, please see the Resources section on our committee’s website. As we are a committee of Council, we are seeking your input on the topics that we should cover in these documents. Examples of the types of questions we could answer are:

  • Under Social Media: What policies should we have in place for our library’s Facebook page? What happens when an employee mentions the library on a personal Twitter account?
  • Under Conflicts of Interest: If I’m on an award committee and know a nominee, should I disclose that information and/or recuse myself? Is it OK to accept a meal from a library vendor?

If you have suggestions for topics that we should cover, please send them to the Committee chair at Our goal is to have both documents ready for public consumption by Annual 2013. Contact the chair if you have any questions, and thanks in advance for your assistance.

Please send your comments to:

Martin Garnar Chair, ALA Committee on Professional Ethics
Reference Services Librarian and Professor of Library Science
Dayton Memorial Library, Regis University
3333 Regis Blvd., Mail Stop D-20
Denver, CO 80221
303.964.5459 (voice)
303.964.5497 (fax)

RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee

In light of the changes described in ALA’s June 2012 Conference Changes Roadmap the RUSA CPCC is working with the RUSA Board to modify our division’s processes for program selection and allocation. The immediate impact of the Roadmap on future conferences is that programs will all take place in the convention center or headquarters hotel, time slots are shortened to 60 and 90 minutes, and the divisions will have fewer programs. The RUSA sections (specifically STARS, RSS, MARS, and BRASS) were extremely helpful this past summer in making quick changes so that we could accommodate the reduced number of program time slots for Annual 2013 in Chicago. We are now working on a new program allocation model for Annual 2014 in Las Vegas, though at this moment we do not yet know how many programs RUSA will have the opportunity to present there.

The committee has been communicating by email and met online on Oct. 26 via RUSA’s Blackboard Collaborate room. We will meet online again on Wednesday, December 5, 11:00 AM-12:30 PM EST. Our meeting at ALA Midwinter 2013 in Seattle is scheduled for Monday, January 28 from 8:30-10:00 AM.

It’s not too soon to start making your plans for next summer! The RUSA sections and committees will be presenting fifteen fantastic programs at Annual Conference 2013 in Chicago and BRASS will be presenting the Business Reference 101 preconference on Friday, June 28. The programs are offered over three days, from Saturday, June 29 through Monday, July 1.

Joe Thompson, chair

RUSA President’s Program Planning Committee

Progress continues on putting together an excellent program for Annual 2013 in Chicago, to be held on Saturday, June 29 from 4:00-5:30 PM. This year’s highly anticipated RUSA President’s Program will provide new perspectives and creative thinking from a prominent non-librarian. The committee has been considering a multitude of possible topics and speakers from a variety of sources including TED talks, PopTech, SXSW Interactive, and the World Future Society. You will not want to miss this major event of the conference. Stay tuned for the announcement of this year’s speaker!

The committee members were able to meet in person while in Anaheim and have been communicating regularly since then via email, phone and RUSA’s Blackboard Collaborate room. Our meeting at ALA Midwinter 2013 in Seattle is scheduled for Sunday, January 27 from 8:30-10:00 AM.

Mary Mintz and Joe Thompson, co-chairs