Read it Now: RSS Review from Reference Services Section

Check out the most recent issue of RSS Review, news from RUSA’s Reference Services Section!
Download the PDF of the most recent issue.

In this issue…

  • A new partnership: YARS (Young Adult Reference Services) is a brand new joint committee with YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association).

  • Stay tuned: The RSS Education and Professional Development for Reference Committee is co-sponsoring a webinar on promoting reference products!

  • For today’s reference librarian’s toolkit: The Job and Career Reference Committee is moving forward with a wiki open to interested librarians and a list-serv for librarians interested in Job & Career reference.
  • Members have spoken: Library Services to an Aging Population committee agrees to update Guidelines to reflect current best practices.
  • Se habla español en la biblioteca? Guidelines for Library Services to Spanish-Speaking Library Users may be due for an update.
  • Get involved! See how you can volunteer and make a difference.

RSS Review is the newsletter of the Reference Services Section of Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association. Please send suggestions for future issues to Amy Rustic (, editor.

The largest section of RUSA, RSS represents the interests of frontline librarians, information specialists, and library support staff engaged in all aspects of reference and information service across all types of libraries. Learn more about the section at

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. Learn more about the association at

RUSA Approves New Definition of Reference

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
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.

Using Evaluation Data to Change & Improve Virtual Reference: Call for Virtual Poster Session Proposals

Using Evaluation Data to Change
& Improve Virtual Reference:

Call for Virtual Poster Session

MARS Management of Electronic Resources and Services (MERS) Committee

How does your library (or consortium) use the results of evaluation to
change and improve your Virtual Reference service? Have you used data,
statistics, opinions, or other feedback to persuade administrators, librarians
and staff, or your patron body? To plan budgets, hours, or training? To test
anecdotal assumptions? To offer a new service? Are changes driven by evaluation
significantly different from those driven by technological advancement or new
VR products?

Share your successes and challenges via a Virtual Poster Session sponsored
by Management
of Electronic Resources and Services
 (MERS), a Machine-Assisted
Reference Section
(MARS) Committee.

We seek virtual posters which describe how libraries use evaluation to
change and improve their Virtual Reference services.

Virtual Reference can include reference assistance provided via chat, IM,
e-mail, videoconferencing, or other means. Evaluation methods can include
statistical analysis, patron surveys, transcript analysis, use of standards and
guidelines, interface usability testing, or any other method or combination of
methods that the library uses to evaluate its service. 

Virtual posters can be submitted as Web pages, PowerPoint presentations, or
other formats which can be mounted on the Web.

Accepted posters will be mounted on the American
Library Association
web site before the ALA 2008
Annual Conference
 and will be
announced at the conference.  Presenters will be asked to participate in
on-line discussions of their posters through the Reference and User Services
(RUSA) blog.

To apply, please use the form at
Proposals will be accepted through 5 p.m. Eastern, Thursday, January 3, 2008.
Authors of selected proposals will be contacted by e-mail by January 18, 2008. 

Completed virtual posters must be submitted to the committee by April 1,
2008.  The committee will review the
posters and work with the creators on any suggested edits needed for clarity
and to comply with ALA
and other guidelines.   

Questions?  Please contact the MERS Chair, Kathryn Courtland Millis at, or (765) 658-4427.

MERS is a committee of the Machine-Assisted
Reference Section (MARS)
in the Reference and User
Services Association (RUSA)
of the American
Library Association (ALA)