Chapter 10: Policy Statements

Advising Publishers of Reference Sources and Vendors of Reference Services:

RUSA welcomes requests for assistance by publishers of reference sources (print, microform, audiovisual and electronic formats) and by vendors of reference services. The division is prepared to assist on matters of structure, content, format, and access which might affect the usefulness of existing or new reference tools. The aims of the division in offering this assistance are to enhance the capability of librarians and other information specialists to provide effective reference service, and to improve reference tools used by the public.

The RUSA Board of Directors makes the final judgment on the feasibility and desirability of accepting requests for assistance. In determining the feasibility and extent of assistance, the board takes into account the nature of the request, the time required, and the probable value of the proposed assistance to the division, the profession, and the public.

Publishers or vendors will be responsible for all costs of the assistance rendered to them, with the exception that routine administrative expenditures will be borne by the division. In implementing its role as advisor to publishers and vendors, the division is aware of, and bound by, certain considerations of propriety and professional ethics. It must avoid at all times the endorsement or appearance of endorsement of a commercial venture by the American Library Association. Therefore, the Reference and User Services Association makes its services available to publishers and vendors only on the condition that neither the name of the division not that of the association as a whole shall be used in promotion of any kind without written permission.

The division also reserves the right to approve in advance of publication any prefatory acknowledgment of the assistance it has rendered. Source: RASD Board, June, 1979; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006

Archives:

RUSA maintains official files for all RUSA groups. These files are retained in the RUSA office for five years and then are transferred to the ALA Archives at the University of Illinois/Urbana. If RUSA units have materials for the ALA Archives, they may send the materials to the RUSA office.

The following types of materials should be preserved: constitution and bylaws; statements of function or duties of offices, chairs, etc.; lists of offices, members of committees; reports; minutes; programs and proceedings; records of all projects and other activities proposed; policy decision statements; questionnaires (one copy, annotated to show to whom and when sent); forms (one copy); treasurer's report; biographical information, and unpublished papers.

The following types of materials should be discarded: general correspondence; duplicate materials; materials superseded by more complete reports; materials pertaining to other units that would otherwise be retained by the issuing unit; miscellaneous business records such as invoices, payment records, etc. Source: Instructions for preparing materials for the ALA Archives, 1985.

Conflict of Interest:

Certain activities sponsored by RUSA may pose a potential conflict of interest between a member's business or personal affiliations and his or her participation in the division. Such activities include, but are not limited to, selection of recipients of awards or of outstanding publications, and formal evaluation of specific nonprint databases and media or of specific vendor services. RUSA members asked to serve on committees should use professional, ethical judgment to avoid any real or apparent conflicts of interest because they damage the credibility of the division.

No members should make, participate in making, or use their RUSA position to influence any committee or division decision in which the member has a direct or indirect interest.

If a member determines that he or she should not participate in a divisional decision because of a conflict of interest, the determination not to act should be accompanied by a public disclosure of that interest. In the case of a voting body, this determination and disclosure should be made part of the official record of the body, and the member should abstain from action on the matter(s) in conflict. In the case of a committee appointment, the disclosure should be made in writing to the appropriate appointing officer. A candidate for elective office should include a disclosure of any potential conflict of interest in the biographic statement submitted for the ballot.

Any member who is unsure of his or her responsibilities in this area may request assistance from the RUSA executive director and the executive committee of the section or division, as appropriate.

If a member fails to identify a conflict of interest that may reflect negatively on the actions of RUSA, the RUSA Board may, by a majority decision, remove conflicting duties from the member's charge. Source: RASD Board, June, 1986; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006

Definitions:

For the guidance of members, RUSA will use the definition of a library included in the publication, American National Standard for Library and Information Sciences and Related Publishing Practice—Library Statistics [ANSI-Z-39.7 (1983)] particularly for the practice of interlibrary loan:

Library. An entity that provides all of the following:

  • an organized collection of printed or other library materials, or a combination thereof
  • a staff trained to provide and interpret such materials as required to meet the information, cultural, recreational, or educational needs of clientele
  • an established schedule in which services of the staff are available to clientele.
  • the physical facilities necessary to support such a collection, staff, and schedule. (p.24)

Source: RASD Board, June, 1985

The RUSA Board adopted the definitions relevant to reference and adult services contained in American National Standard for Library and Information Statistics (ANSI Z39-1983), and requested that the RUSA Standards and Guidelines Committee use the definitions in new and revised standards and guidelines. ANSI’s definition of a reference transaction is the following: “An information contact that involves the use, recommendation, interpretation, or instruction in the use of one or more information sources, or knowledge of such sources, by a member of the reference or information staff." Source: RASD Board, January, 1984

The RUSA Executive Committee annually reviews this document at the Fall Leadership Meeting. It is also subject to review and revision by the RUSA Board and by the standing committees of RUSA.
Source: RUSA Executive Committee, June 2009.