Quarterly Update

Carol Schuetz, editor



Steven M. Miller, Jr., Editor

Table of Contents

Message from the Chair
News & Updates
Results Compiled for EPDR Committee Survey
Perkins and Kleiman to Pen Programming Book for Older Adults
Committee Reports
Nominating Committee
Research & Statistics Committee
Virtual Reference Services Committee

Message from the Chair:

Salutations RSS!

I am delighted to become your chair and represent your interests. If you have any ideas for improving our section or increasing engagement, please let me know!

Here’s an idea about which I wanted to get feedback from you. The way that RUSA brings librarians from different types of libraries together is part of what makes our organization incredible. It is commendable to find the commonalities across the profession that bring us together in providing excellent reference and user services to our clienteles. While this is a distinctive and laudable feature of RUSA, sometimes we want to create a space for conversations among people with comparable experiences. It is with that in mind that I would like to introduce to everyone an idea that the RSS Board is discussing, the creation of two new committees

Research Help in Academic Libraries
Charge: To study, promote, and support the role of reference and user services in academic libraries.

For example, many libraries have moved from a designated reference desk to a tiered service, featuring research consultations. We ought to have a venue for discussing how this affects what we do and how we do it.

User Services in Public Libraries
Charge: To study, promote, and support the role of reference and user services in public libraries.

For example, with the decline of basic reference questions, a lot of libraries focus more on programming. We ought to have a place to discuss what works and why.
Though we are a function-based organization, we work in particular contexts. We sometimes want to hold conversations with colleagues who see the world from a similar perspective and can offer pertinent advice.

In an ideal world, these groups would be so successful that there would be subcommittees for subtypes of libraries, such as community college libraries or public libraries serving fewer than 2,500 people. To reach that level of achievement, should we commence the conversation?

Some people might argue that starting something new is inadvisable during these uncertain times. I say that we should start as we hope to continue. We should progress with our work and trust that what we’re creating matters enough that it will continue to propel us forward, even if we get rerouted.

The people volunteering for these committees would have a shortened calendar to achieve their goals. Yet, if this is worthwhile, is it not better to get started now rather than wait for another appointment year? If you are interested in serving on either of these committees, please email me by 9/1. If there’s enough interest, then I think the RSS Board will have an easy decision to make.

Rebecca Eve Graff
RSS Chair, 2020-2021


RSS News & Updates


Results Compiled for EPDR Committee Survey
Last spring the Education & Professional Development of Reference Committee conducted a survey to determine where we should focus our efforts. All reference staff were invited to complete the survey, although the vast majority of respondents were librarians. Approximately 300 people responded to these questions.

  1. How much of your library training was spent on reference interview techniques?

    Summary – Most practitioners place the reference interview at the heart of reference service. Through most survey participants selected “about the right amount” of training, more than half the respondents felt they had “too little” training, with regard to reference interview techniques.
  2. How much of your library training was spent on face-to-face reference help?Summary – It is not surprising that these results are very similar to the responses for reference interviews. Though many people were satisfied with their training, over half the respondents felt underprepared for what was, prior to the pandemic, the most common type of interaction.
  3. How much of your library training was spent on chat reference help?Summary – This marks a shift toward unpreparedness. 2/3 of participants felt undertrained for providing chat reference.
  4. How much of your library training was spent on video reference help?Summary – No one felt over prepared for video reference. Only a dozen people felt comfortable with the amount of training they received, which means that nearly no one felt their training was adequate.
  5. How much of your library training was spent on print reference sources?Summary – Most people felt “about the right amount” of training was spent on print reference sources. Although, perhaps, a little too much time compared with other areas in which the time might have been better spent.
  6. How much of your library training was spent on database searching?Summary – Most people thought “about the right amount” of time was spent learning database searching techniques; yet, 1/3 of people thought they could have used more training.
  7. How much of your library training was spent on preparing you to work with LibGuides or other, similar, asynchronous reference tools?

    Summary – 2/3 of people felt too little time was spent preparing them for working with LibGuides or similar tools.
  8. How much of your library training was spent on preparing you to assess user experience?Summary – A clear majority of respondents feel far too little training was used to help them assess user experience.

Based on these results, it seems that most reference and user services staff were not prepared to provide virtual reference help. Now that it’s imperative, we need to do everything we can to get up to speed so that we can provide our constituents with consistently excellent reference service.

Perkins and Kleiman to Pen Programming Book for Older Adults

Usually many of our great programming ideas are shared in committee meetings, and the one that George Eberhart, the then-Senior Editor of American Libraries Direct, had was no different. As Eberhart sat in on a meeting of the Library Services to an Aging Population Committee meeting during ALA Midwinter 2018, he was very intrigued by the committee discussion and suggested the committee idea for a book.

The proposal was soon submitted to Jamie Santora, the Acquisitions Editor at ALA Editions.

“One month later, a book proposal was submitted and approved,” said former Library Services to an Aging Population Committee Chair and current RSS Vice Chair Fatima Perkins.

“A practical book on the topic is needed,” noted Allan M. Kleiman, current Chair of the RSS Library Service to an Aging Committee. “This book will appeal to those just starting programs as well as those actively providing programs for older adults in their Library,”

Perkins and Kleiman are about a quarter of the way through the book. The current working title is, Impactful Programming for Older Adults. A few of the chapter titles are, “Aging – The New
Frontier,” “Thriving and Sustaining Programs,” and “Promising Program Practices for Mature Audiences.”

“While writing this book, we are truly inspired by all of those who, throughout the years, have served on the Library Services to an Aging Population Committee,” said Perkins. “We are confident that this book will help libraries and librarians create impactful programs for mature audiences.”

In addition to moderating numerous RUSA webinars and ALA programs on the subject of working with an aging population, Perkins and Kleiman were instrumental in contributing to the ALA Guidelines for Library Services with 60+ Audience: Best Practices (2017, revised) and ALA Keys to Engaging Older Adults (2018). Perkins and Kleiman have also acted as ALA Representatives for White House Conference on Aging events.

Perkins is currently working as the Director of Community Outreach & Advocacy for the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging in Cleveland, Ohio. She doubles as a librarian and a social gerontologist. Kleiman is in his 12th year as the Director of the Montville Township Public Library, in New Jersey.

RSS Committee Reports


Nominating Committee
The Reference Services Section (RSS) Nominating Committee is excited to share that nominations for three elected positions with RUSA RSS will open on September 3rd and remain open through December 3rd. We will share the link on Connect and RSS_L as soon as it becomes available.

Nominate yourself or someone you know from RSS for consideration! Nominations are confidential, and do not commit or obligate any individuals nominated; the committee will approach selected candidates to inquire about their willingness to run. Note that elected officers must be current RSS members.

We are currently seeking candidates for consideration to fill the following positions:

  • Member at Large (3-year term)
  • RSS Vice Chair/ Chair Elect (3-year term/ Vice Chair- Chair- Past Chair)

Details about each of these is described on the RUSA-RSS Handbook section for the RSS Executive Committee at: http://www.ala.org/rusa/sections/rss/rsssection/handbooka/rsshandbook#two

Each of these positions has an important place with RSS. Participation encourages you to shine and gives you an opportunity to make a difference. Reference Services is a core component of
libraries and touches communities and the profession in a variety of ways. RSS helps to shape the elements that guide our ethics, professional development, champion issues that help ensure protection of privacy and services, and more.
Learn more about RSS at http://www.ala.org/rusa/sections/rss/rsssection/oursection
Learn more about RUSA at http://www.ala.org/rusa/join-rusa-today

Contact Janet T. O’Keefe, Chair, RSS Nominating at jokeefe@fpl.info if you have any questions.

Janet T. O’Keefe, Nominating Committee Chair, 2020-21


Research & Statistics Committee
With the quick pivot to the ALA Virtual 2020 Conference, the Research and Statistics Committee was pleased to have the 26th Annual Reference Research Forum chosen as one of the programs. The researchers pre-recorded their presentations and were on hand to answer questions live for viewers during the conference. There was great interest in the program, with over 150 attendees adding the program to their scheduler. If attendees were not able to watch the presentation live, the recording was available to them later.

The committee would like to thank Laura Costello and Amy Kimura of Rutgers University for presenting, “Reaching Potential Users Through Proactive Chat;” Stacy Gilbert, Phil White, and Kathryn Tallman of University of Colorado Boulder for presenting, “An Examination of Professional Journalists ISB for Outreach and Reference Services;” and Adrienne Warner and David A. Hurley of the University of New Mexico for presenting, “Development of Use and the READ Scale in Assessing Chat Reference: A Meta-study.”

Calls for proposals for the 27th Annual Reference Research Forum will go out later this fall.

Qiana Johnson, Research and Statistics Committee Chair, 2020-21


Virtual Reference Services Committee
The Virtual Reference committee has met to start planning its goals for this year. We hope to continue offering an annual eForum this February and are looking for like-minded committees to partner with. The topics are not set yet and will be a collaborated effort.

Our committee also hopes to create a virtual reference toolbox. Using the VRC (Virtual Reference Companion) as a model, there would be resources on marketing, data collection, and assessment. The main goal for this project is to make it useful to librarians who work with virtual reference. By creating tools and tips for chat etiquette, online reference interviews, and dealing with online difficult patrons, the toolbox would offer professional development and training opportunities.

Our third project will be to propose a webinar. Stay tuned for further details.

Melissa Del Castillo Committee Chair, 2020-21