RUSA Annual Report 2009

Each year the RUSA President is required by ALA Council to submit an annual report. RUSA has had a busy and productive 2009 and it was a great pleasure to share all of our accomplishments with LAA Council. If you are interested in reading the entire report, click here.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me.

Neal Wyatt
RUSA President

As the 2008-2009 RUSA President, I am pleased to submit this annual report. RUSA has had a productive year focused on outreach to members and association governance.

RUSA’s mission is:

The Reference and User Services Association is responsible for stimulating and supporting excellence in the delivery of general library services and materials to adults, and the provision of reference and information services, collection development, readers’ advisory, and resource sharing for all ages, in every type of library.

Our vision is:

RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need.

Our guiding values are as follows:

  • We believe in universal access to information.
  • We believe that reading is fundamental to quality of life and value all activities that promote it.
  • We value collections and information sources of the highest possible quality.
  • We value the provision of innovative services and programs that meet the changing

    information needs of diverse populations.

  • We value continuous evaluation and improvement in the management and delivery of materials and services to users.
  • We value the professional growth and development of librarians and library staff.
  • We value the role of librarians and library staff as educators in creating lifelong learners and critical thinkers.
  • We value the unique contributions that librarians and library staff bring to the process of connecting users with the information they need.

2008-2009 Accomplishments:

The Strategic Plan

In our efforts to create a forward-thinking and strategic Board, RUSA has revised its strategic plan after a yearlong study prompted by the question, “What do we want to be in five years?” Our new plan, which you can read on our website (, is designed to be more action focused, measurable, and flexible. Gone are the grocery lists of feel good statements that were too vague to measure and too general to mean anything. In their place are a few achievable action items supporting concise and particular objectives. We designed the plan to be updated with new action items each year, keeping RUSA moving forward on a strategic path.

Board Strategies

In support of our new strategic plan RUSA has also adopted new Board strategies. We have implemented several new methods of operation at the Board level, designed to keep us focused on our strategic goals and future rather than bogged down in process. For example, we have put in place a no wordsmithing rule, deciding that the place to edit documents is while they are in committee, not when they are on the Board floor. We have devoted time at both Annual and Midwinter for a RUSA Big Think – time for the Board to brainstorm a critical question facing the association. We have instituted rolling agendas to move us through our meetings more quickly and efficiently, and we have settled on policies that mandate deadlines and set procedures so that actions can be considered and planned. This year we also created a new training and orientation process, supported by a revised Policy and Procedure Manual, for all our newly elected officers, both within the Sections and on the Board. Our new orientation helps everyone understand how RUSA works and what we hope to achieve.

Task Forces

In order for RUSA to move forward, without creating a superstructure that would get in our way, this year we have moved work through a number of task forces and other short-term projects:

  • The RUSA Update Task Force studied our online newsletter and made recommendations to make it more responsive and interesting to our membership. We were inspired, in part, by the creativity of American Libraries Direct – one of the best innovations in ALA in years.
  • The RUSA Technology Task Force gathered the tech experts of RUSA together to design a plan to help us reach out to members who cannot attend conference. Their suggestions have created a roadmap for us to follow and we are busy implementing many of their suggestions including recording some of our programming, exploring virtual meetings, and investing in equipment.
  • Following up on the Technology Task Force and the ALA Electronic Participation Task Force, we established our own Electronic Participation Task Force to examine ways we can do more committee work online using such tools as ALA Connect and how we can help members be as active as they wish to be, regardless of their travel budgets.
  • The Emerging Leader Task Force, consisting only of current or past emerging leaders, studied how to make this program a better experience in RUSA, both during the emerging leader year and in the years following.
  • The RUSQ Task Force is looking at the implications of turning our highly respected, peer-reviewed journal, Reference and User Services Quarterly, into an E-publication. The continuing costs of print publication and the decline in advertising revenue has prompted us to carefully consider if electronic publication would serve our readers and authors as well as print does today.
  • “Fourteen Days to Have Your Say” was our title for a RUSA-wide invitation to re-vision our website. After a fourteen-day open comment period, we went back to the drawing board, and led by Chris Cieslak, our web services manager, we created a responsive and better organized site. This was such a positive experience for RUSA that we signed up to be one of the testing sites for the ALA Website Usability study and actually had to turn away members willing to volunteer for the testing.
  • RUSA has made some changes to our highly respected roster of awards. This year we created the Zora Neale Hurston award, in partnership with HarperPerennial, to honor the legacy of Ms. Hurston’s impact on literature and the African-American community.  Through the great generosity of HarperPerennial, a librarian who has made an extraordinary contribution to the profession by promoting African-American literature receives funding to attend Annual conference, tickets to the Literary Taste Breakfast, the FOLUSA Tea, and a set of all the Zora Neale Hurston books currently published by HarperPerennial.

Outreach: Awards and Publishing

RUSA has recently published a new set of guidelines for the profession, The Interlibrary Loan Code, created by our STARS section. These guidelines will aid librarians involved with ILL and other resource sharing activities.

I am particularly pleased to report on the second year of our new Reading List award, RUSA’s list of the best in genre fiction. The reputation of this award is growing by leaps and bounds, and this year the librarians on the committee not only introduced new talent to the reading public, they picked C.J.Box’s Blue Heaven as the best mystery of the year, months before it was voted the best mystery of the year by the Edgar Awards.

To celebrate all of RUSA’s book and publishing awards, this year we expanded our Midwinter Book Awards Event to include a larger range of RUSA book related awards and included media for the first time. In Denver, the Dartmouth Medal selected Greenwood’s Pop Culture Universe as the most outstanding reference work of the year, breaking ground for electronic publications. You can watch the awards ceremony here:

As RUSA Vice President I created a new effort to promote readers’ advisory services. I am very pleased that The Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Forum has become a new event in RUSA’s Annual conference line up, and that the first forum will be my President’s Program at this year’s Annual conference. The forum will provide an ongoing opportunity, after my presidential year concludes, for the readers’ advisory community to share groundbreaking work in the field.

RUSA is not just working to share the best books and resources with our users; we are also working to create the best resources for the profession. In partnership with ALA Editions, RUSA members are working on several projects. Members of our STARS section are working to revise Virginia Boucher’s groundbreaking book on Interlibrary Loan. Members of multiple sections of RUSA are working on creating a new Library Science Glossary of Terms, and projects are underdevelopment for RUSA members to write books on both business and genealogy research. RUSA is indebted to

J. Michael Jeffers for his leadership in reaching out to our librarian experts as potential writers for ALA Editions. In addition to these books in process, ALA Editions has recently published several books by RUSA members including M. Kathleen Kern’s Virtual Reference Best Practices and Joyce Saricks’s The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction.

Outreach: Grants

RUSA continues this year with our partnership with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) with the Smart Investing @ Your Library grant project. Now in its second round, RUSA has helped dozens libraries with grants totaling $1 million dollars. Smart Investing @ Your Library helps educate the public about investing, a service badly needed in today’s economy. To mark the work done thus far, at Midwinter RUSA joined with FINRA and ALA President Jim Rettig in a press conference and party to celebrate the libraries of Smart Investing @ Your Library. In June RUSA, ALA, and FINRA won an Award of Excellence for Smart investing@ your library from ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership’s 2009 Associations Advance America Awards.

Outreach: Preconferences and Programs

RUSA has a strong history of providing quality programming to its members. This year our History Section offered a Midwinter Genealogy Preconference entitled “Behind the Genealogy Reference Desk,” at the Denver Public Library that demonstrated how researchers can find information about people in a wide variety of resources in the Denver area.

Also at Midwinter, RUSA sections offered several discussion groups on hot topics designed to help the library community engage collaboratively in issues facing the profession.

At Annual Conference in Chicago, RUSA will offer 15 programs as well as several special events. Programs range from reference research to data collection in collection development. RUSA will host four preconferences as well as The Literary Tastes Breakfast. This beloved RUSA tradition will feature four award-winning authors including Toby Barlow, who also won a 2009 Alex Award from YASLA.

It has been the privilege of my professional life to serve as RUSA’s President this year and I want to thank the RUSA Board, the RUSA Executive Committee, all the sections, task force leaders and members, and the RUSA staff for working so hard in service to the profession and the association. It has been my honor to work with such committed and talented individuals who have been simply amazing in the level of work they are willing to take on, and the results they accomplish. I want to thank Barb Macikas, who left RUSA on May 1, for her leadership to RUSA and Mary Ghikas for her support and efforts on RUSA’s behalf after Barb’s departure.

While this report lists many of RUSA’s achievements over the past year, it cannot, in even small measure, detail the sheer hard work, creative energy, and focus of the individuals who lead RUSA. They have my deepest respect and admiration.

2008-2009 Board of Directors

Executive Committee:

Neal Wyatt, President

Dave Tyckoson, Past-President

Susan Beck, Vice President/President-Elect

Naomi Lederer, Secretary

Pam Sieving, Councilor


Gwen Arthur

Corinne M. Hill

Mary Alison Hollerich

Mary M. D. Parker

Joseph A. Thompson, Jr

Gary W. White

Section Chairs:

Stephanie S. Atkins (STARS)

Michael Levine-Clark (CODES)

David A. Lincove (HS)

Rosemary Long Meszaros (MARS)

Rita W. Moss (BRASS)

Judy L. Solberg (RSS)

Publication Editors:

Daniel C. Mack (RUSA Update Editor)

Diane M. Zabel (RUSQ Editor)

RUSA Staff:

Mr. Chris J. Cieslak Manager, Web Services

Ms. Liz Markel, Manager, Marketing

Respectfully submitted, June 2009

Neal Wyatt, RUSA President

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