RSS HANDBOOK

Reference Services Section (RSS)
Reference and User Services Association
American Library Association
November, 2017

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

4.    RSS Representatives to RUSA Committees
5.    Conference Programs and Pre-conferences

6.    RSS Listservs
7.    ALA Connect

1) Handbook Distribution and Updating Procedure


The RSS Handbook is maintained on the RSS web site and within the RSS Section ALA Connect site. RSS Executive Committee reviews the handbook annually and provides revisions as needed. Revisions should be approved by RSS Board.


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 to ensure continuity of policy) and is the official voting body of the Section. The section webmaster, archivist, RSS Review Editor, 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 except as previously designated).


The RSS Board consists of the RSS Executive Committee, RSS committee chairs, and RSS Representatives to RUSA Committees. The members of the RSS Executive Committee serve as the only voting members of the RSS Board.


The Executive Committee is required to meet twice a year with one meeting occurring at the Annual Conference, usually on Saturday morning. This meeting is held as part of the more inclusive RSS Board meeting. The second meeting, again as the more inclusive RSS Board, may be held virtually. Other meetings may be called as needed. In addition, the Executive Committee will conduct business during the intervening year via other approved communication formats either as the Executive Committee or as the RSS Board, depending on the particular situation. Items which need Executive Committee approval to move on to other RUSA or ALA committees should be handled at these meetings.


Duties of RSS Chair

  • Communicates issues and information to appropriate areas, oversees the work of the Section, compiles and sends out meeting agendas and other documentation, schedules the meetings of the Executive Committee and All-Committee meetings held during the Annual Conference, and presides at all Executive Committee meetings.
  • Presides at the Section business meeting held at Annual Conference while she/he is Chair.
  • Serves on the RUSA Leadership Council, and communicates messages from RUSA to RSS leaders, and members, including deadlines and policy changes.
  • Coordinates, with the RSS Communication Committee, the All Committee Meeting and Open House, held during Annual Conference. Communicates with the RUSA Office regarding the RSS Open House.
    • Works with RUSA Vendor Relations Liaison to secure funding for Open House breakfast.

Duties of Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect

  • Appoints committee members and chairs for the year during which she/he will be Chair.
    • Committee members and chairs are to be appointed beginning after Midwinter. Committee appointments are generally for two years and can be renewed once. Chair appointments are for one year 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).
  • Prepares a New Chair Orientation to be shared during the Annual Conference or immediately after her/his term as chair has begun.
  • Provide committee chairs with a roster of their committee membership.
  • Serves on RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee.
  • Serves as RSS Scheduler.

Duties of Secretary

  • Submits drafts of minutes to the RSS Executive Committee members and to RSS Board members for review and final approval.
  • Prepares and distributes minutes of all Executive Committee and RSS Board meetings to Executive Committee members and RSS Board members.
  • Ensures that all Board and Executive meeting minutes are voting upon and approved, by working with the RSS Chair.
  • Posts the minutes on the RSS Board ALA Connect group, marking them public.

Duties of the Immediate Past Chair

  • Chairs the RSS Nominating Committee and submits the slate of candidates to the RUSA Executive Director.
  • Serves as a member of the RSS Executive Committee.
  • Works with RSS Communication Committee to plan and publicize the RSS Pancake Breakfast at Midwinter.

Duties of the Members-at-Large

  • Represents the interests of the RSS membership to the Executive Committee and undertakes other duties as assigned.
  • Serves as liaisons and mentors to committees, checking on their progress over the year and answering questions.
  • RSS Members-at-Large will serve as RSS representatives to RUSA level committees, reporting back to RSS Leadership on a regular basis. The goal is to keep RSS leadership, chairs, and membership updated about deadlines, changes, and opportunities at the RUSA level.
  • One member serves on the RUSA Board for their three year term..

Duties of the RSS Webmaster

  • Serves as chair or a member of the RSS Communication Committee.
  • Updates and maintains the content of the RSS Web site.
  • Communicates with RUSA office staff, including Web Services Manager, to keep RSS website up to date.
  • Serves as ex-officio, non-voting member of the RSS Executive Committee.
  • Serves a 2 year term and may be re-appointed for a second term.

Duties of the RSS Archivist

  • Maintains and preserves all archives, records, and related materials concerning the Section and its activities.
  • Creates archiving plan for RSS, in conjunction with RSS Executive Committee, including list of items to be sent to ALAIR (ALA Institutional Repository).
  • Serves a 2 year term and may be re-appointed for a second term.
  • Serves as ex-officio, non-voting member of the RSS Executive Committee.

Duties of the RSS Review Editor

  • "RSS Review” is the RSS column in the online RUSA Update, published quarterly.
  • Sends out a call for submissions, compiles the submissions, provides editorial changes as needed, and submits the RSS Review to the editor of the RUSA Update.  When the issue has been published, the RSS editor sends an e-mail to RSS-L alerting the membership of the availability of this information.
  • Serves as ex-officio, non-voting member of the RSS Executive Committee.
  • Serves on RSS Communication Committee.

Duties of the RSS Scheduler

  • Puts out a call to the RSS Board requesting information from committee chairs on the scheduling of meetings and discussions for ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual. Note that the RSS Chair schedules individual committee meetings that take place during the Annual Conference (during the RSS All Committee meeting).  The RUSA Office schedules approved programs.
  • Coordinates with committee chairs and RSS officers to create a schedule that minimizes conflicts between RSS programs and discussions. Enters the information into the ALA schedule database.
  • Serves as ex-officio, non-voting member of the RSS Executive Committee.
  • Serves as RSS representative to the RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee


3) RSS Committees


In addition to the Executive Committee, RSS committees include:
Thirteen topical committees

Five functional committees

The Executive Committee may establish special and ad hoc committees when necessary. All committees report to the Executive Committee.

For committee charges and membership see the RSS Committees section of the RSS web site. Committees are encouraged to maintain informal or formal contact with other appropriate units of ALA but may not make commitments on projects or programs outside of RSS without Executive Committee approval.

Committees are expected to meet in whatever format they prefer at some point before, during or right after the Midwinter meeting for a meeting that is considered to be the committee’s official Midwinter Meeting. These meetings and their agendas should be publicly announced to allow other interested ALA members to attend.

Each committee is expected to participate in the All-Committee Meeting scheduled on Saturday at the Annual Conference, which includes a period for individual committee meetings as well as a general meeting of all RSS committees.  If a committee has completed its work prior to the conference through virtual meetings and does not intend to participate in the All-Committee Meeting, the committee chair must alert the RSS chair so that the committee will not be included in the program schedule. 

At minimum, the committee chair is required to attend the All-Committee Meeting in order to inform visitors about the work of the committee and encourage new membership. If needed, additional individual committee meetings may be scheduled by the Chair of a committee at any point during the year.


Responsibilities of RSS Committee Chairs

  • Serve as a member and attend RSS Board meetings representing their committee. At RSS Board meetings, participate in discussions about the direction of the section.
  • Monitor committee activities and projects. Organize agendas and chair all meetings. Schedule those committee meetings held during the year, which are not part of the All-Committee meeting held during the Annual Conference.  Meetings held during the All-Committee meeting time during Annual Conference are scheduled by the RSS Scheduler.
  • Submit committee goals at the beginning of the year, and updates to those goals twice a year posted on Connect.
  • All RSS meetings, except those by the Nominating and Recognition Committees, are considered open to all ALA members.  Any meetings other than the in-person Midwinter Meeting or Annual Conference are required to be announced at least two weeks in advance on RUSA-L, RSS-L, and ALA Connect (marked as public) with information on how non-committee members may participate. No announcement for non-members is required for meetings held at ALA Annual Conference or ALA Midwinter Meeting that are listed in the program schedule.
  • Be aware of RUSA and ALA policies. Committee chairs should examine the RUSA Guide to Policies and Procedures available online in the “About RUSA” portion of the RUSA web site. 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.
  • Consider submitting Conference Proposals and Webinar proposals, according to deadlines. RSS Chair can connect Committee chairs with appropriate RUSA committees and liaisons.
  • Submit material four times a year for RSS Review.
  • Promote the work of the committee, and committee events through RUSA 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 immediately following Annual Conference.
  • Inform the Chair and Vice Chair if you believe a committee member should be removed from the committee, based on non-attendance at meetings or non-performance of committee responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the RSS Chair, not the committee chair, to ask a committee member to resign if necessary.
  • Document and date the work of the committee. Meeting minutes are required to be posted to the committee’s ALA Connect site, set to public, within a month of meeting. Summaries of activities are to be posted three times a year (see New Chair Orientation documentation for specific dates) to the committee’s ALA Connect site, set to public.
  • Keep thorough documentation of committee activities and goals to be handed over to the next committee chair ensuring a smooth transition with the new chair having all the information needed to continue current projects and initiate new ones.
  • Post committee work documents to ALA Connect. Committees can decide if work should be public, or only available to those in the committee ALA Connect group.
  • Send short letters to committee members thanking them for their work the previous year.


RSS Committee Chair Calendar

June/July

  • Chair committee/discussion group meeting(s) associated with Annual Conference within two weeks of the Annual Conference, if not during the conference. New chair takes over at the close of Annual Conference.
  • Oversee committee pre-conferences and programs at Annual Conference.
  • Attend RSS Board meetings held during and after the Annual Conference.
  • Review the New Chair Orientation documentation provided by the new RSS Chair.
  • Post summary of committee’s activities for the year and meeting minutes to RSS Board Connect site within a month of Annual Conference meeting.
  • Transfer committee/discussion group materials to incoming Chair and RSS Archivist.
  • Send report on Annual Conference activities to RSS Review Editor.
  • Post committee goals for the year to committee’s Connect space.

August/September/October

  • Review the online RUSA Guide to Policies and Procedures and the online RSS Handbook.
  • Receive final committee roster from RSS Chair.
  • Introduce yourself to committee members and outline committee goals for the upcoming year.
  • Delegate committee tasks to interested members.
  • Monitor progress of committee activities.
  • Work with the RSS Scheduler to schedule any in-person meetings or discussions for your committee that are to be held during the Midwinter Meeting. All-Committee meetings are not held during this time.
  • Update Member-at-Large liaison regarding committee’s progress towards goals.
  • Submit ALA Annual Program proposals according to ALA deadlines.
  • Post an update to committee goal(s) to the committee’s ALA Connect site, set to public.
  • Notify RSS Chair if there are committee members you are not able to contact.
  • Consider creating RUSA webinar to coincide with your committee work, watching for RUSA level deadlines for proposals.

November/December

  • Submit information on upcoming meetings to be held in conjunction with the Midwinter Meeting, committee activities, etc. to RSS Review Editor.
  • Notify committee members of meeting times and format for the Midwinter Meeting, distribute agendas, and remind committee members of tasks and deadlines. NOTE: All RSS meetings, except those by the Nominating and Recognition Committees, are considered open to all ALA members. Any meetings held outside of the in-person Midwinter Meeting or Annual Conference are required to be announced at least two weeks in advance on RUSA-L, RSS-L, and ALA Connect (marked as public) with information on how non-committee members may participate. No announcement for non-members is required for meetings held physically at ALA Annual Conference or ALA Midwinter Meeting that are listed in the program schedule.

January/February

  • Notify the RSS Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect of
    • the number of committee vacancies to be filled for the following year,
    • committee members whose terms are expiring but who are willing and eligible to be re-appointed,
    • any recommendations for new members of the committee, and
    • 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).
  • Work with the RSS Meeting Scheduler to schedule any in-person meetings for your committee that are to be held beyond those that are part of the all committee meetings held during the Annual Conference.
  • Post a report on the RSS Board group of ALA Connect, marked public, reviewing the committee’s activities that took place associated with Midwinter.
  • Submit information on meetings held in conjunction with the Midwinter Meeting, committee activities, etc. to RSS Review Editor.
  • Post committee meeting minutes to the committee’s ALA Connect site, set to public.

March/April/May

  • Update Member-at-Large liaison regarding committee’s progress towards goals.
  • Submit information on Annual Conference meetings, programs, etc. to RSS Review 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.
  • Submit to RSS Executive Committee in April any budget requests in excess of $50 that will need approval by RUSA Board (RUSA Board’s deadline is May 1).
  • Post an update to committee goal(s) to the committee’s ALA Connect site, set to public.


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.  Representatives are considered members of the RSS Board.

  • Access to Information

RUSA committee to coordinate RUSA's efforts at promoting access to information in reference and user services and serve as a conduit to advocate for legislative concerns.

  • Awards Coordinating

Coordinates the activities of the award committees of the division and its sections by assisting in orientation of new committee chairs, serving as a clearinghouse for information pertinent to policies and procedures of award committees, and to assist the board of directors and/or section executive committees to develop new awards. The Chair of RSS Recognition Committee serves on RUSA Awards coordinating as the RSS representative.

  • Budget and Finance

The RSS Member at Large who is charged with serving on RUSA Board will serve as the RSS Representative to RUSA Budget and Finance, during the years RSS has a representative to Budget and Finance.

  • Conference Program Coordinating

The RSS representative to the RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee serves to help ensure that RSS proposals are approved. Chairs of committees that are planning programs should consult with the representative to verify the approved time and date for a program. The RSS Scheduler serves as the RSS Representative to the Conference Program Coordinating committee.

  • Leadership Council

RUSA Leadership Council includes the Chair of RSS, and other members of RSS Leadership.

  • Membership Management

The Representative serves on the RUSA Member Engagement and sends e-mails to new Section members, participates in any outreach activities scheduled by RUSA.

  • Nominating

RSS has a representative on the RUSA Nominating Committee, which prepares the slate of candidates for RUSA offices. The RSS Nominations and Elections Chair serves as the RSS Representative to the RUSA Nominating Committee.

  • 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.

  • Professional Resources

New committee, charge forthcoming.

  • Volunteer Development

New committee, charge forthcoming.


5) Conference Programs and Pre-conferences


Program proposals for RUSA and RSS programs are handled on the ALA level. ALA will forward the program to the relevant division for consideration and RUSA's Conference Program Coordinating Committee will be making the recommendations to the RUSA board for the final decision on the programs that RUSA will present. RSS committees or members can submit proposals for conference programming. Information about submissions can be found here.


Program Checklist


While a successful program requires a great deal of organization and team effort, it is usually a rewarding experience for the committee organizing it.  A program is one of the best ways to provide a direct benefit to our RSS members who attend the Annual Conference.


This checklist is intended as a guide to help the organizers of a program and assumes that a topic, title, description, and speakers have already been confirmed. It also assumes that the program has been approved. It can be modified as needed to meet the particular needs of your presenters and the topic. It is recommended that the chair of the organizing committee make this checklist available to all committee members so that members can volunteer in advance for each of these tasks or roles.


BEFORE THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE:


Programs will be approved by early fall. If your program has been approved, here's a general timeline of activity.


9-12 months ahead:


3-9 months ahead:

Submit required forms to the RUSA Office as requested. These will include a Meeting Room Request Form, Program Description Form, Speaker Waiver Forms, and A/V Orders.

5-6 months ahead:

  • Communicate with your speakers via email, online, and/or by meeting in person during ALA Midwinter to finalize the program format.
    • Ask speakers questions like:
      • Will each speaker give a presentation of a particular length with Q&A at the end? 
      • Will questions be asked with each speaker responding before moving to the next question? 
      • Various formats can be considered, but should be finalized at this point so that the presenters can begin to prepare based on the agreed-upon format. 
      • Prepare a program outline with times and distribute to the speakers and facilitator.

5-6 months ahead:

  • Confirm who will be the program facilitator if this has not been done already and determine their role.  Will they simply provide introductions at the beginning of the program or will they actively participate in moderating the program as a discussion?

3 months ahead:

  • Consider soliciting questions for the speakers on relevant listservs. This also helps to promote early awareness of the program.
  • Make your speakers aware of the time, date, and city where the program will take place. Also make them aware of the building and room location once these are announced in March or April.



1-2 months ahead:

  • Create a publicity message and send it to relevant email listservs including RUSA-L and RSS-L. Work with the RSS Communication Committee to post an announcement to the RSS Facebook page. Submit a request to have the event highlighted on the RUSA Facebook, Twitter and RUSA News site.. Include a Twitter hashtag. Send the message again 1-2 weeks before the program. Read how conference events are publicized here.

1-2 months ahead:

  • Collect biographical information about the speakers and facilitator for introductions at the program.
  • Consider setting up an online or paper evaluation for your program. If the form is online, create reminders of URLs to hand out to participants.

1 month ahead:

  • Arrange for a committee member to blog the program or take notes that can be posted to the committee’s web site following the program.


1 month ahead:

If the speakers will be projecting presentations, arrange for these to be emailed to you by a deadline (a week before the presentation date). A good rule of thumb is not to expect internet service, so it is always good for both the speaker and you to have a copy of their presentation in hand. Internet service is likely to not be available at many conference facilities. If acceptable to the speakers, consider combining all the speakers' slides into one file so that the time switching between presentations during the program can be minimized.


2 weeks ahead:

Consider asking your presenters/panelists and facilitator if they are interested in meeting before the program in the conference city for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or beverages.  If there seems to be lack of interest or the speakers seem overscheduled, don’t push.

1 week ahead:

  • If the program format allows for questions to be submitted on note cards, bring note cards.



ONCE YOU ARRIVE IN THE CONFERENCE CITY:



Find the ALA Office in the Convention Center, locate the RUSA/ASCLA table, and pick up any flyers or handouts that you requested be printed.  Also pick up RSS brochures, and RSS ribbons to make available at your program.  This can be done beginning on Friday.

Distribute program flyers in the rooms of any related programs or meetings where there may be an audience interested in your program.  RUSA Friday preconferences and the Saturday morning RSS Open House are two great opportunities.



DAY OF PROGRAM (PLAN IN ADVANCE FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS TO PLAY THESE ROLES):



Door Greeters (1-4 depending on expected audience and room size)

  • Welcome attendees with a smile so that they know they are in the right place!
  • As attendees enter the door of the program:
    • Distribute the evaluations, handouts, and note cards.
    • Point attendees to empty chairs if the room appears full.
    • One greeter should act as liaison to the conference center staff if needed regarding attendee concerns. (i.e.: room temperature is extremely high/low, not enough chairs, etc.)


Assistant to the Speakers and Facilitator

  • Ensures that the speakers/facilitator have what they need to make the program a success.
  • Acts as liaison with the conference center on behalf of the speakers/facilitator as needed.


Timekeeper

  • Communicates with the facilitator before the program to determine what timing cues may be needed during the program.
  • Uses those cues when appropriate.


Introductions

  • Confirm who will introduce the facilitator and speakers.  A slide should be projected at this time with the name of the program, RUSA, RSS, and name of the committee.


Note card runners

  • Pass through audience to collect written questions for panelists and return these to the facilitator.


Person to do a brief verbal evaluation at the end of the program

  • Ask the audience to identify one useful idea they took from the program.


At the end of the program, project the URL where attendees can find information related to the program, or the evaluation URL. If applicable collect program evaluations.



FOLLOWING THE PROGRAM:



Within 2 weeks:

  • Send a handwritten card to each of the speakers and facilitator thanking them for participating.

Within 1 month:

  • Compile the program evaluations and post to the committee’s space on ALA Connect (NOT as public).

Within 1 month:

  • With consent of the speakers, send handouts and presentations from the speakers to the RSS webmaster so that these can be added to the committee website.  Post related files on the committee’s space on ALA Connect.


6) RSS Listservs


The Section's email listserv, RSS-L provides the latest news and annoucements from the RSS Chair and other officers. Information about RSS-L and instructions for its use can be found under "RSS Electronic Discussion List" on the RSS web site. RUSA maintains a separate discussion list for all RUSA members known as RUSA-L. It is recommended that all RSS Board members join both RSS-L and RUSA-L. The address is rss-l@lists.ala.org.

The RSS Board maintains a close e-mail discussion list at RSS_Board. Information is regularly shared with committee chairs and representatives to RUSA committees by the RSS Executive Committee members through this list. The RSS Chair is responsible for administering the listserv, adding members of RSS Board and removing those who have cycled off. The address is rss_board@lists.ala.org.


7) ALA Connect


All RSS Committees and the RSS Board have groups organized on ALA Connect.  ALA Connect should be used to share and store documents related to each committee, including meeting minutes.  ALA Connect also allows members of each group to post messages and manage polls in cases where a vote is needed.  Access ALA Connect at http://connect.ala.org and log in using your ALA member ID and password.

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.


Comments, suggestions, etc. are welcome. Please send them to the Chair of the RSS.

Updated November 2017.