Timeline Project: "25 Years of MARS"


Text by Pat Riesenman, edited by Anne Mitchell
Visual timeline designed and compiled by Anne Mitchell
Presented at the MARS 25th Birthday Party, ALA Annual San Francisco, June 15, 2001

Tuesday, July 26, 1976
Viking I spacecraft lands on Mars
Reference and Adult Services Division (RASD) forms the Machine-Assisted Reference Services (MARS) Discussion Group
September 1976
First issue of Messages from MARS
Annual Conference, 1977
First MARS program: "Charging for Computer-Based Reference Services"

MARS receives section status
Annual Conference, 1978
MARS has more than 1,600 members

MARS ratifies its bylaws
Midwinter Meeting, 1980
Executive Committee holds first MARS open forum
May/June 1980
Messages from MARS is absorbed by RASD Update
Summer 1981
First MARS article, "Online Training Sessions: Suggested Guidelines," appears in RQ
Annual Conference, 1982
MARS programs: "Introduction to Online Searching for the Novice" and "Management of an Online Search System"
Midwinter Meeting, 1984
MARS plans a series of regional workshops based on its 1982 conference programs
Midwinter Meeting, 1985
MARS considers changing the section's name

MARS is authorized to serve as a beta test site for DIALOG Information Services
Annual Conference, 1985
MARS forms its Planning/Orientation Committee

First scheduling coordinator appointed

Further planning of the upcoming regional workshops, "Critical Issues in Implementing Online Search Services: An Institute"
Midwinter Meeting, 1986
MARS forms its Publications Committee
Spring 1987
Articles from two MARS committees and an article on MARS' first 10 years appear in RQ

MARS publishes "Planning for End-User Searching: A Checklist of Questions," the inaugural publication in the RASD Occasional Papers series
Annual Conference, 1987
MARS celebrates its 10th birthday!
First MARS Handbook distributed
Annual Conference, 1988
RASD Publications Committee presents "Guidelines for the Occasional Papers Series" using MARS as an example
Spring 1989
"Confidentiality of Vendor Records: Report of an Informal Survey" appears in "Messages from MARS"
Annual Conference, 1989
MARS open forum: "Database Products and Online Search Vendors"
Summer 1989
Three of the first five titles in the RASD Occasional Papers series are from MARS
Midwinter Meeting, 1990
MARS committee realignment is approved
Annual Conference, 1990
MARS program "Technostress" is adopted by RASD as its President's Program
Spring 1991
Award-winning article "Ensuring Quality Reference Desk Service: The Introduction of a Peer Process" by MARS chair Jane Kleiner appears in RQ.
June 28, 1991
First MARS preconference: "The Electronic Library: Linking People, Information, and Technology"
Annual Conference, 1991
MARS reorganizes its committee structure, which continues to the present day

MARS holds a competition for a new logo
Midwinter Meeting, 1992
Two new discussion groups, Hot Topics and Managers in MARS, hold their initial meetings
Spring 1992
"Goals, Strategies, Action Plans - 1992" appears in "Messages from MARS"
Midwinter Meeting, 1993
MARS considers establishing "Distinguished Contributions to Electronic Reference" and the "MARS Achievement Recognition Award" recognizing excellence in service to MARS
Annual Conference, 1993
MARS program "Challenges in the Electronic Information Age: Technical, Legal and Ethical Issues" receives a 'special allocation' from the ALA president

Remember Gopher? The Hot Topics Discussion Group focuses on "Organizing Gopherspace for Reference Service; or, Digging Tunnels through the Internet"
Fall 1993
MARS-L becomes available
Spring 1994
"Information Technology Glossary" appears in RASD Update
Annual Conference, 1994
MARS program: "Electronic Access to America's Diversity"
Midwinter Meeting, 1995
First MARS Web page
Fall 1995
MARS develops its segment of the ALA gopher
MARS experiments with scheduling multiple meetings in a single large room
Summer 1996
First delivery of "Messages from MARS" via MARS-L
Spring 1997
"Twenty Years of MARS in Print: An Annotated Bibliography" appears in RQ
MARS Web/Gopher Coordinator plans to migrate MARS gopher data to the Web
Annual Conference, 1997
For the first time since 1979, MARS holds multiple programs

MARS distributes its new brochure, featuring the new logo
Fall 1997
MARS completes its section review, finding that MARS is a robust section in terms of both its membership and its output of ideas
Midwinter Meeting 1998
Two new task forces, the Birthday Party Task Force and Outreach Task Force, hold their initial meetings
Spring 1998
Official version of the MARS handbook appears on the Web
Annual Conference, 1998
First "Meet Martians" happy hour
Midwinter Meeting, 1999
MARS forms its first virtual working group, the ad hoc Committee on Best Reference Websites or MARSBEST
Annual Conference, 1999
MARS holds three programs, including one from the Public Libraries Committee and one from the Education, Training and Support Committee

Publications Committee finalizes its committee home page, which will serve as a template for other committee Web pages
Midwinter Meeting, 2000
Executive Committee approves an Outreach Committee, formerly the Outreach Task Force
Fall 2000
"Martian to Martian Transmissions" is added to the MARS Web page

MARS has its first member participating from abroad
Midwinter Meeting, 2001
Hot Topics discussion forum "After-Hours Chat Reference Service in Public and Academic Libraries" reaches a new attendance record
Annual Conference, 2001
MARS celebrates 25 years with a BIRTHDAY PARTY!