At the January 14, 2008, meeting of the RUSA Board, a new definition of reference was approved. It was based on solicited input received on the RUSA Blog as of 12/8/07. Thank you to all those who gave input, as well as all those who worked hard to come up with a definition that could be supported by so many.
Lisa R. Horowitz
Chair, Reference Services Section (2007-2008)
Definition of Reference
Approved by RUSA Board, 1-14-08
by subgroup of RSS Executive Committee
Reference Transactions are information consultations in which
library staff recommend, interpret, evaluate, and/or use information resources
to help others to meet particular information needs. Reference transactions do
not include formal instruction or exchanges that provide assistance with
locations, schedules, equipment, supplies, or policy statements.
Reference Work includes reference transactions and other
activities that involve the creation, management, and assessment of information
or research resources, tools, and services.
(The following bullets clarify what is meant
by terms within the Reference Work definition.)
Creation and management of information
resources includes the
development and maintenance of research collections, research guides, catalogs,
databases, web sites, search engines, etc., that patrons can use independently,
in-house or remotely, to satisfy their information needs.
Assessment activities include the measurement and evaluation of reference work,
resources, and services.