Quarterly Update

Carol Schuetz, editor



Steven M. Miller, Jr., editor

Message from the Chair:

Greetings Reference Services Section!

I hope you and yours are healthy and happy this holiday season.

I am delighted to report that the call for volunteers for two new committees was immensely successful! Thank you for those who joined Research Help in Academic Libraries, User Services in Public Libraries, as well as everyone who expressed interest in this endeavor. Special appreciation goes out to Liz Kocevar-Weidinger and Taina Evans for agreeing to chair these committees! I’m sure we all look forward to hearing about their activities.

Your RSS Board has been meeting monthly. Our agendas and unofficial minutes may be viewed at https://bit.ly/2VnEE2w. Recently we had a discussion and gave feedback to the Future of RUSA Task Force. We’re now reviewing the RSS Handbook. Soon, we plan on discussing ways of better promoting Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Access in our section.

Our Upcoming Activities:

12/8/2020 Definition of Reference Town Hall
RSS is leading this RUSA Task Force and would love to get your feedback and input.
1/12/2020 Services in the Time of Covid Town Hall
All RUSA sections will contribute to this discussion, including RSS!
1/23/2021 ALA Midwinter: “Definition of Reference” Discussion Group
11am -12 noon Central

Speaking of Midwinter, RSS obviously cannot host our annual Pancake Breakfast during a virtual conference. In lieu of that, look for an RSS Virtual Social in February. We look forward to seeing you!

If you can’t wait to say hi, feel free to join our RSS Board meetings the first Monday of every month at 3:00pm Central. The information on how to join, including a registration link, is on the RUSA Update calendar, https://bit.ly/2CfmTJe. Keep informed by following us on Twitter @RSS_RUSA or liking our Facebook page. Please get in touch if there is something you want to say, because this is your section and your voice matters.

Rebecca Eve Graff, RSS Chair

News & Updates

Call for Presentations: 27th Annual Reference Research Forum
The Research & Statistics Committee of the Reference Services Section of the Reference & User Services Association (RUSA) invites submission of reference service research project proposals for presentation at the New Discoveries in Reference: The 27th Annual Reference Research Forum at the 2021 American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago, IL. Researchers and practitioners from all types of libraries, library school faculty and students, and other interested individuals are encouraged to submit a proposal. The committee is particularly interested in research about serving diverse patrons.

The Reference Research Forum is a popular and valuable ALA Annual Conference program. Attendees have the opportunity to learn about innovative research projects conducted in reference services including user behavior, electronic services, reference effectiveness and assessment, and organizational structure and personnel. For examples of projects presented at past Forums, please see the Committee’s website: http://www.ala.org/rusa/sections/rss/rsssection/rsscomm/rssresstat/researchstatistics.

The Committee employs a blind peer review process to select three proposals for 20-minute presentations, followed by open discussion. Identifying information will not be shared with reviewers until after final selection of proposals. Selected submissions must be presented in person at the Forum during ALA Annual in Chicago, IL.

Criteria for selection:

  1. Originality: Potential for research to fill a gap in reference knowledge or to build on previous studies.
  2. Quality: Research design and methodologies.
  3. Impact: Significance of the study for improving the quality of reference services.

NOTE: Research projects may be in-progress or completed. Previously published research or research accepted for publication will not be accepted.

Important Dates:

Proposals are due by Monday, January 4, 2021. Notification of acceptance will be made by Monday, February 15th, 2021. The submission must not exceed the stated word count limit.

Submission Details:

Submissions will be accepted as Word documents:

SUBMISSION PAGE 1: Contact Information

Please include the primary contact’s name, title, institutional affiliation, mailing address, and email address. Additional research team members should also be noted in the appropriate field.

SUBMISSION PAGE 2: Research Description (250 Word maximum)

The research description must not include any personally identifiable information, including your name, or the name of your institution. Please include these elements:

  1. Title of the project
  2. Explicit statement of the research problem
  3. Description of the research design and methodologies
  4. Findings or results if available
  5. Brief discussion of the originality, unique contribution, potential impact, and significance of the research (if you use semicolons between items in a list, you need to make sure the entire list is a complete sentence.)

Proposals that exceed the word count or that do not follow the format described above will be automatically rejected.

Submissions and questions about the Forum should be directed to the 2020-2021 committee chair: Qiana Johnson, q-johnson@northwestern.ed

Committee Reports

Research & Statistics Committee
The Research and Statistics committee is preparing to hold the 27th Annual Reference Research Forum in Chicago, IL at ALA Annual. To prepare for it, the committee has released the call for proposals (please see announcement in RSS News & Updates) and will use a blind peer review process to select presentations. Over the years, presenters have included luminaries in the field, and many have gone on to publication. The Research and Statistics Committee is looking forward to a program that will be of interest to libraries of all types.

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


Virtual Reference Services Committee
The Virtual Reference Services Committee is in the planning stages of recreating a virtual reference toolkit for training and assessing virtual reference offerings. The Virtual Reference Companion (VRC) hopes to be both a tool for library workers new to providing this type of service and a hub for professional development resources for those who are well versed and want to improve their skills. Topics of the VRC will include planning, budget, policies, marketing, assessment, skills, technologies, professional development, best practices & tips, and links to other virtual reference resources.

Our committee would also like to put out a call for other committees who want to partner and individuals who want to volunteer for our annual eForum that occurs at the end of February. We have some initial topics decided, including reference during the time of COVID-19 and virtual reference professional development, but want to open most of the discussion to be decided once our planning begins. If you are part of a committee that wants to collaborate or an individual interested in volunteering, please email Melissa Del Castillo at medelcas@fiu.edu.

For more information about the Virtual Reference e-Forum, you can visit – https://lists.ala.org/sympa/info/vrc-eforum.

Submitted by Melissa Del Castillo Committee Chair, 2020-21

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