Handbook

RSS HANDBOOK
Reference Services Section (RSS)
Reference and User Services Association
American Library Association
July 2005 (revised)

This handbook is a compilation of procedures and policies for RSS officers and committee chairs. Suggestions for additions or revisions to this handbook should be sent to the Chair of the RSS Organization and Planning Committee.

Contents:

1) Handbook Distribution and Updating Procedure
2) RSS Executive Committee
3) RSS Committees and Discussion Groups

Responsibilities of RSS Committee Chairs
Responsibilities of RSS Discussion Group Chairs/Coordinators
RSS Committee/Discussion Group Chair Calendar

4) RSS Representatives to RUSA Committees
5) Conference Programs and Preconferences
6) Publications
7) RSS-L

1) Handbook Distribution and Updating Procedure

The RSS Handbook is maintained on the RSS website. The RSS Organization and Planning Committee reviews the handbook regularly.

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2) RSS Executive Committee

The RSS Executive Committee consists of the Chair, Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, Secretary (2 year term), Immediate Past Chair, and three Members-at-Large (overlapping 3 year terms). The section Webmaster/Archivist, the Editor of the "RSS Update" column in the online RUSA Update, and the President and Executive Director of the Reference and User Services Association are ex-officio, non-voting members of the Executive Committee. Terms of office start after Annual Conference and run through the following Annual Conference (for one-year terms).

Usual meeting times for the RSS Executive Committee at both Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference:

Saturday, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Items which need Executive Committee approval to move on to other RUSA or ALA committees should be handled at this meeting.

Tuesday, 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Items that came up at committee meetings that need Executive Committee action can be handled at this meeting. Committee chairs also report on committee activities during this meeting.

Duties of RSS Chair

•Sends out agendas, arranges for meeting rooms, and presides at the Executive Committee meetings at Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference and at any section business meeting if one is held at Annual Conference during the year she/he is Chair.
•Serves on the RUSA Board of Directors and represents section interests and concerns to the RUSA Board.

Duties of Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect

•Appoints committee members and chairs for the year during which she/he will be Chair. The RUSA Office will contact the Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect in early fall with additional information and forms. The RSS Nominating Committee must be appointed in November so that they can meet at Midwinter. Other committee members and chairs are to be appointed by spring (official deadline is April 1). Committee appointments are generally for two years and can be renewed once. Current committee chairs should be contacted for recommendations for re-appointment of members or addition of new members and to determine if any current committee members are interested in chairing the committee.
•Appoints RSS representatives to RUSA Committees (see section 4 below).
•Serves on the RUSA Planning and Finance Committee.
•Conducts an orientation for new committee and discussion group chairs at the Midwinter Meeting.

Duties of Secretary

•Prepares and distributes minutes of all Executive Committee meetings to Executive Committee members and RSS committee and discussion group chairs.
•Submits drafts of minutes to the RSS Executive Committee members and to RSS committee and discussion group chairs.
•Submits the final approved minutes to the RSS Webmaster.

Duties of the Immediate Past Chair

•Chairs the RSS Organization and Planning Committee and presides at the committee’s meetings during Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference.
•Participates as a member of the RSS Executive Committee during Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference.

Duties of the Members-at-Large

•Represent the interests of the RSS membership to the Executive Committee and undertake other duties as may be assigned, such as liaison with discussion groups.

Duties of the Webmaster/Archivist

•Updates and maintains the RSS website.
•Preserves paper copies of RSS related materials through submission of items to the ALA Archives.

Duties of the “RSS Update” Editor

•"RSS Update" is the RSS column in the online RUSA Update. The Update is published quarterly, and the "RSS Update" Editor will send out a call for submissions.

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3) RSS Committees and Discussion Groups

In addition to the Executive Committee, RSS committees and discussion groups include:

Twelve topical committees

Catalog Use
Cooperative Reference Service
Education and Professional Development for Reference
Evaluation of Reference and User Services
Library Services to an Aging Population
Library Services to the Spanish-Speaking
Management of Reference
Marketing and Public Relations for Reference Services
Research and Statistics
Services to Adults
User Education and Information Literacy
Virtual Reference Committee (co-sponsored with MARS)

Two functional committees

Nominating
Organization and Planning

One award committee

Bessie Boehm Moore/Thorndike Press Award [Temporarily disbanded]

Six discussion groups

Ethical and Legal Issues in Reference
Hot Topics in Frontline Reference
Performance Issues for Reference/Information Librarians
Reference Services in Large Research Libraries
Reference Services in Public Libraries
Reference Services in Small and Medium-sized Research Libraries

All committees and discussion groups report to the Executive Committee. For committee charges and membership see the links to "RSS Committees” and to “Discussion Groups” in the “Our Section” portion of the RSS website. An RSS Committee volunteer form is available in the “RUSA Volunteers” section in the “Our Association” portion of the RUSA website and is linked on the RSS homepage in the section on “How to get involved with RSS”. In addition to regular members, several RSS committees have virtual members. Committees are encouraged to maintain informal or formal contact with other appropriate units of ALA but may not make commitments on projects or programs without Executive Committee approval. The Executive Committee may also establish special and ad hoc committees.

All committees are expected to participate in the All-Committee Meeting scheduled on Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., at both the Midwinter Meeting and the Annual Conference. The time span includes a period for individual committee meetings and a period for a general meeting of all committees. If needed, additional individual committee meetings may be scheduled by the Chair of a committee.

Responsibilities of RSS Committee Chairs

•Monitor committee activities and projects. Chair committee meetings at Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference.
•Schedule any necessary meetings for Annual Conference and for Midwinter Meeting in addition to the All-Committee Meeting scheduled for Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Links to online Meeting Space Request Forms will be sent to RSS committee chairs from the ALA Conference Services Office. Forms for scheduling Midwinter meetings are usually due in September and forms for Annual Conference in late October.
•Be aware of RUSA and ALA policies. Committee chairs should examine the
RUSA Guide to Policies and Procedures available online in the “Our Association” portion of the RUSA website. As a section of RUSA, RSS must comply with all divisional policies, and chairs should familiarize themselves with the Guide. If you have questions, consult with the RSS Executive Committee and/or RUSA Executive Director. You may also find the ALA Policy Manual helpful.
•During conference, ALA offices offer support services, including photocopying services and personal computers. Photocopying for RSS committee business can be charged to the RUSA account numbers, which can be obtained at the RUSA table or directly from the RUSA Executive Director. This service usually takes several hours.
•Submit reimbursement requests to RUSA for expenses up to $50. If a committee anticipates expenses over $50, the chair should consult with the RSS Chair and/or Executive Committee.
•Report to the Executive Committee at Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference. The Executive Committee usually meets twice for general business. Committee Chairs generally are scheduled to present their reports at the second meeting (Tuesday morning). Committee Chairs should notify the RSS Chair if they are unable to attend one or both of the Executive Committee meetings. Depending on the status of your projects, you may need early approval to move ahead, or you may wish to report at a later meeting when you have had a chance to complete an assignment. You are expected to attend all Executive Committee meetings in order to stay abreast of RSS activities and related RUSA information. Committee Chairs are not voting members of the Executive Committee but are expected to participate in discussions.
•Obtain Executive Committee approval for any committee programs, preconferences, publications, etc. For more information see Section 5 "Conference Programs and Preconferences" and Section 6 "Publications" below.
•Submit material for "RSS Update".
•Make recommendations for committee appointments to the RSS Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect. Appointments are usually made in the early spring prior to April 1 and begin after Annual Conference.
•Document and date the work of the committee. Use the online “RSS Meeting Highlights” form in the “Our Section” portion of the RSS website to submit Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting minutes. Meeting minutes should be submitted within 2 weeks after the conference ends. Pass on electronic copies of minutes and other committee documentation to the RSS Webmaster/Archivist for posting on the RSS website.

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Responsibilities of RSS Discussion Group Chairs/Coordinators

•Chair discussion group sessions at Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference.
•Schedule meetings of the discussion group for Annual Conference and for Midwinter. Links to online Meeting Space Request Forms will be sent to RSS discussion group chairs from the ALA Conference Services Office. Forms for scheduling Midwinter meetings are usually due in September and forms for Annual Conference in late October.
•Be aware of RUSA and ALA policies. Discussion group chairs should examine the RUSA Guide to Policies and Procedures available online in the “Our Association” portion of the RUSA website. As a section of RUSA, RSS must comply with all divisional policies, and chairs should familiarize themselves with the Guide. If you have questions, consult with the RSS Executive Committee and/or RUSA Executive Director. You may also find the ALA Policy Manual helpful.
•During conference, ALA offices offer support services, including photocopying services and personal computers. Photocopying for RSS discussion group business can be charged to the RUSA account numbers, which can be obtained at the RUSA table or directly from the RUSA Executive Director. This service usually takes several hours.
•Submit publicity material for "RSS Update" and for RSS and RUSA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference schedules.
•Submit reimbursement requests to RUSA for expenses up to $50. If a discussion group anticipates expenses over $50, the chair should consult with the RSS Chair and/or Executive Committee.
•Report to the Executive Committee at Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference. The Executive Committee usually meets twice for general business. Discussion group Chairs generally are scheduled to present their reports at the second meeting (Tuesday morning). You are expected to attend all Executive Committee meetings in order to stay abreast of RSS activities and related RUSA information. Discussion group Chairs should notify the RSS Chair if they are unable to attend one or both of the Executive Committee meetings. Discussion group Chairs are not voting members of the Executive Committee but are expected to participate in discussions.
•Document and date the work of the discussion group. Use the online
“RSS Meeting Highlights” form in the “Our Section” portion of the RSS website to submit Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting minutes. Meeting minutes should be submitted within 2 weeks after the conference ends. Send electronic copies of minutes and other discussion group documentation to the RSS Webmaster/Archivist for posting on the RSS website.

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RSS Committee/Discussion Group Chair Calendar

June/July

•Chair committee/discussion group meeting(s) at Annual Conference - new chair takes over at the close of Annual Conference
•Oversee committee preconferences or programs at Annual Conference
•Attend Executive Committee meeting(s) at Annual Conference
•Use the online “RSS Meeting Highlights” form in the “Our Section” portion of the RSS website to submit Annual Conference minutes within 2 weeks after the conference ends.
•Send minutes of meeting(s) at Annual, and any other documents, to the section Webmaster/Archivist.
•Transfer committee/discussion group materials from outgoing to incoming Chair
•Send report on Annual Conference activities to "RSS Update" Editor

August/September/October

•Review the online RUSA Guide to Policies and Procedures and the online RSS Handbook.
•Receive committee roster from RUSA Office
•Submit request for Midwinter meeting times/rooms using the online form
•Submit request for Annual Conference meeting times/rooms using the online form
•Monitor progress of committee activities
•Submit information about upcoming Midwinter meeting/events to "RSS Update" Editor

November/December

•Notify committee members of meeting times and places for Midwinter Meeting, distribute agendas, and remind committee members of tasks and deadlines

January/February

•Chair committee/discussion group meeting(s) at Midwinter Meeting
•Attend Executive Committee meeting(s) during Midwinter Meeting
•Use the online “RSS Meeting Highlights” form in the “Our Section” portion of the RSS website to submit Midwinter Meeting minutes within 2 weeks after the end of the Midwinter Meeting.
•Send minutes of meeting(s) at Midwinter, and other pertinent documents, to section Webmaster/Archivist
•Send report on Midwinter Meeting activities to "RSS Update" Editor
•Notify the RSS Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect of (a) the number of committee vacancies to be filled for the following year, (b) committee members whose terms are expiring but who are willing and eligible to be re-appointed, (c) any recommendations for new members of the committee, and (d) whether the Chair is willing and eligible to be re-appointed (if not, note any current committee members willing to be appointed to chair the committee)

March/April/May

•Submit information on Annual Conference meetings, programs, etc. to "RSS Update" Editor
•Monitor progress of committee activities
•Notify committee members of meeting times and places for Annual Conference, distribute agendas, and remind committee members of tasks and deadlines

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4) RSS Representatives to RUSA Committees

RSS has official representatives to the following RUSA committees. Representatives report to the RSS Executive Committee and participate in discussions but are not Executive Committee members.

Access to Information
RUSA committee dealing with any aspect of access to information or intellectual freedom relating to the interests of RUSA and to the responsibilities of public service librarians.

Conference Coordinating
The RSS representative to the RUSA Conference Coordinating Committee serves a very valuable role in helping committees prepare program proposals and guiding those proposals through the RUSA committee. Chairs of committees that are planning programs should consult with the representative to make sure all the needed forms and documentation are in place.

Membership
The RUSA Membership Committee staffs a booth in or near the exhibits area at Annual Conference. Each section in RUSA is responsible for staffing the booth for a certain period. The RSS representative to the RUSA Membership Committee will send out a call for participation, and RSS officers, representatives, and committee chairs are encouraged to help staff the booth and promote both RSS and RUSA.

Nominating
RSS has a representative on the RUSA Nominating Committee that prepares the slate of candidates for RUSA offices.

Organization
In addition to other activities, the RUSA Organization Committee oversees the section reviews -- each RUSA section is reviewed every 5 years. The next RSS review will be in 2009. The RSS Representative to the RUSA Organization Committee is also a member of the RSS Organization and Planning Committee.

Planning and Finance
We have an appointed representative and the RSS Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect is a member.

Professional Development
Provides leadership and coordinates the development of RUSA programming, apart from Annual Conferences, including: generating and recommending topics and authors for Web CE courses; evaluating proposals for Web CE courses, including those from outside sources; organizing and sponsoring an annual orientation session for new RUSA members at Annual Conference.

Publications
The representative to the RUSA Publications Committee serves a very important role in guiding publications through the RSS/RUSA/ALA process.

Standards and Guidelines
This RUSA committee approves all guidelines submitted by sections (RUSA, as a type-of-activity division, can only write guidelines, not adopt standards). Like other types of publications, the RSS Executive Committee must approve guidelines. Committees that are considering new guidelines or revising old ones (all guidelines are reviewed at least every 7 years) should contact the RSS Chair and the RSS Representative to the RUSA Standards and Guidelines Committee to make sure the guideline gets approved by the RSS Executive Committee and the RUSA Standards and Guidelines Committee. This process can take a fairly long time. For more information, see the online RUSA Guide to Policies and Procedures,
Chapter 4.

Web Policies Subcommittee
To recommend Web site policies applicable to the RUSA Web site to the full RUSA Publications Committee, who in turn will provide recommendations to the RUSA Board; to oversee the RUSA Web site and the policies governing it; and to use established criteria to judge whether or not information will be placed in the Members-only section. The subcommittee will consult widely with other RUSA members who may have a stake in their decisions, to assure that the recommendations have the support of affected entities.

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5) Conference Programs and Preconferences

The RSS Executive Committee must approve all proposals for preconferences or programs at Annual Conferences, including co-sponsorships, “in name only”, etc. Preconferences must be approved at least 18 months in advance, usually at the Midwinter Meeting a year and a half before the preconference will be held. Conference programs must be approved at least 12 months in advance, usually at the Annual Conference before the one at which the program will be presented. The committee Chair must fill out the RUSA "Annual Conference Program and Preconference Proposal" form available online in the “RUSA Forms” section of the “Our Association” portion of the RUSA website.

RSS is eligible to present two Annual Conference programs, excluding the RSS Research Forum, which is considered an RSS program but does not count against the allotted two programs. After the RSS Executive Committee approves a program, it goes to the RUSA Conference Coordinating Committee for approval. While most proposals are approved, this is not a certainty: the RUSA Conference Coordinating Committee can turn down a proposal or ask for modifications.

RSS does not have a standing membership/business meeting during Annual Conference. If needed, a regular RSS program may be designated as the Section membership/business meeting.

Discussion groups are not considered programs and do not need Executive Committee approval for their discussion sessions. Discussion groups cannot present nor co-sponsor programs or preconferences.

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6) Publications

RSS does not have a Publications Committee, so the representative to the RUSA Publications Committee serves a very important role in guiding publications through the RSS/RUSA/ALA process. The RSS Executive Committee must approve all RSS publications. If a committee is considering a publication, the committee Chair should contact the RSS Chair and the Representative to the RUSA Publications Committee as soon as possible to make sure the proper procedures are followed. See the online RUSA Guide to Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6. The publication process can be fairly long and involved, so be prepared to be patient.

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7) RSS-L

The section’s moderated listserv provides the latest news and announcements from the RSS Chair and other officers. Information about RSS-L and instructions for its use are in the “Professional Tools” portion of the RSS website. RUSA maintains a separate discussion list for all RUSA members.


Comments, suggestions, etc. are welcome. Please send them to the Chair of the RSS Organization and Planning Committee.

Revised 2 July 2005.