RSS HANDBOOK

Reference Services Section (RSS)
Reference and User Services Association
American Library Association
June, 2012

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.    Publications
7.    RSS-L
8.    rss_board@ala.org
9.    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. The RSS Organization and Planning Committee reviews the handbook annually and provides revisions as needed.


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 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. Committee members and chairs are to be appointed over the winter/spring and the Nominating Committee should be appointed during the preceding fall in order to solicit nominations for the annual election ballot. 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 Budget and Finance Committee and reports back to the Executive Committee on these activities.
  • 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.

Duties of Secretary

  • Prepares and distributes minutes of all Executive Committee and RSS Board meetings to Executive Committee members and RSS Board members.
  • Submits drafts of minutes to the RSS Executive Committee members and to RSS Board members.
  • Posts the minutes on the RSS Board ALA Connect group, marking them public.

Duties of the Immediate Past Chair
 

  • Chairs the RSS Organization and Planning Committee and presides at that committee’s meetings.
  • Serves as a member of the RSS Executive Committee.
  • Serves on the RUSA Budget and Finance Committee.
  • Works with RSS Organization & Planning Committee members and the RSS Representative to RUSA Membership in planning for the annual RSS Open House held during the Annual Conference.
  • Contacts and works with sponsors for the Annual RSS Open House.
  • Communicates with the RUSA Office regarding the RSS Open House.

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.
  • One Member-at-Large serves as the chair of the Discussion Forum Coordinating Committee.
  • One Member-at-Large serves as the chair of the Recognition Committee.
  • One Member-at-Large serves as a member of the Organization and Planning Committee.

Duties of the RSS Webmaster

  • Serves as chair or a member of the Web Advisory Committee.
  • Updates and maintains the content of the RSS Web site.
  • Serves as RSS liaison on the RUSA Publications and Communications Committee.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • •    Serves as a member of the Organization and Planning 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.

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 meetings that take place during the Annual 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

All committees report to the Executive Committee. For committee charges and membership see the RSS Committees section of the RSS web site. Use the RUSA Volunteer form, linked from the RSS home page, to express interest in becoming a member of a RSS Committee.  Select “RSS” at the bottom of the form. 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. The Executive Committee may also establish special and ad hoc committees.
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.
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 by February 15 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 his/her committee.
  • 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 Chair.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • During Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting, the ALA Office offers support services, including photocopying and computers. Photocopying for RSS committee business can be charged to the RUSA account number, which can be obtained at the RUSA table or directly from the RUSA Executive Director. This service usually takes several hours. Each committee is allotted a total of $50 for copying or other expenses each year. The reimbursement form can be obtained from the RUSA Executive Director. Submit reimbursement requests to RUSA for expenses up to $50.
  •  If a committee anticipates expenses over $50, the committee chair should consult with the RSS Chair. Financial requests for expenses over $50 for any one committee should be made by May 1 of the preceding year for approval in the RUSA budget.
  •  Obtain RSS Executive Committee approval for any committee programs, pre-conferences, publications, etc. For more information see Section 5 "Conference Programs and Pre-conferences" and Section 6 "Publications" below. The RSS Chair will send out a call for proposals in February or March.
  • Submit material four times a year for RSS Review.
  • 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 to be posted to the committee’s ALA Connect site, set to public, within a month of meeting.
  • Document and date the work of the committee. 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.

RSS Committee Chair Calendar

June/July

  • Chair committee/discussion group meeting(s) associated with Annual Conference either right before, during, or right after the Annual 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 from outgoing to incoming Chair.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Post an update to committee goal(s) to the committee’s ALA Connect site, set to public.

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 (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).
  • 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 proposals for the following year’s Midwinter Institutes, Annual Conference programs, and/or Annual Conference Pre-confererences in March to the RSS Executive Committee for approval.
  • 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 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.

  • Budget and Finance

The RSS Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect and the Immediate Past Chair are the RSS Representatives.  The Vice Chair has the reporting responsibility at Executive Board Meetings.

  • 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.

  • Membership

The Representative serves on the RUSA Membership Committee and sends e-mails to new Section members, participates in any outreach activities scheduled by RUSA, and works with RSS Organization and Planning to organizes the RSS Open House. The Representative is also a member of the RSS Organization and Planning Committee.

  • 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.

  • Organization

In addition to other activities, the RUSA Organization Committee oversees the section reviews. Each RUSA section is reviewed every 5 years. The RSS Representative to the RUSA Organization Committee is also a member of the RSS Organization and Planning 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.

  • Publications

The representative to the RUSA Publications Committee serves to help guide 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.


5) Conference Programs and Pre-conferences


The RSS Executive Committee must approve all proposals for pre-conferences or programs at Annual Conferences, including co-sponsorships, “in name only,” etc. Midwinter Institutes, Annual Conference Pre-conferences, and Annual Programs must be submitted and approved in March of the preceding year by the RSS Executive Committee. The committee Chair must fill out the RSS Annual Conference Program and Pre-conference Proposal form, which will be made available by the RSS Chair.  Once approved, the RSS Chair may ask the committee chair to submit the proposal on the RUSA form.


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 Program Coordinating Committee for approval. While most proposals are approved, this is not a certainty: the RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee can turn down a proposal or ask for modifications. RSS may choose to submit more than two proposals, assuming that the other RUSA sections may not all use their allotted two program slots.


Program Checklist


While a successful program requires a great deal of organization and a team effort, it is most often a rewarding experience for the committee that organizes it.  A program is also a great way 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. This also assumes that the program has been approved by the RSS Executive Committee. Modify it 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 her/his committee members and arrange for members to volunteer in advance for each of these tasks or roles.


BEFORE THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE:



1. (9-12 months ahead) 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.

2. (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 for Internet, laptops, projectors, screens, microphones, etc.

3. (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.  Will each speaker give a presentation of a particular length with Q&A at the end?  Will questions be asked with each speaker taking a turn 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.

4. (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?

5. (3 months ahead) Consider soliciting questions for the speakers on relevant listservs.  This also helps to promote early awareness of the program.

6. (2 months ahead) Create a printable flyer. Include RUSA, RSS, and the name of the organizing committee in the design, as well as the RUSA and RSS logos. Include the URL where material relating to the program will be posted online. The RUSA Office may be able handle the printing if these are submitted to Liz Markel [lmarkel@ala.org] by early May. Clarify if color is needed or if black & white print is sufficient.

7. (1-2 months ahead) Create a publicity message and send it to relevant email listservs including rusa-l and rss-l. Post it to the RSS Facebook page and RUSA Blog. Include a Twitter hashtag. Send the message again 1-2 weeks before the program.

8. (1-2 months ahead) Collect biographical information about the speakers and facilitator for introductions on the day of program.

9. (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.

10. (1 month ahead) If the speakers will be projecting presentations, arrange for these to be emailed to you by a deadline. Keep in mind that Internet access within meeting facilities can be unpredictable, so it is always good for both the speaker and you to have a copy of their presentation in hand.  If acceptable to the speakers, consider combining the slides into one file so that the time switching between presentations during the program can be minimized.

11. (2 weeks ahead) Consider asking your 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.

12. (1 week ahead) Contact the editor of ALA’s Cognotes to recommend that the program be highlighted there, either in advance of the program or in an article the following day.  Cognotes is the daily newspaper available on each day of the Annual Conference.

13. (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:



14. 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 blank evaluation forms, RSS brochures, and RSS ribbons to make available at your program.  This can be done on Friday.

15. 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):



16. Make RSS flyers and RSS badge ribbons available in the room.

17. 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.
  • Check for conference registration name badges.  People with an “Exhibits Only” badge are to be politely directed to the ALA registration area to register.
  • 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.)


18.  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.


19. Timekeeper

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


20. 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.


21. Note card runners

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


22. 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.


23. At the end of the program, project the URL where attendees can find information related to the program.

24. Collect program evaluations.



FOLLOWING THE PROGRAM:



25. (within 2 weeks) Send a handwritten card to each of the speakers and facilitator thanking them for participating.

26. (within 1 month) Compile the program evaluations and post to the committee’s space on ALA Connect (NOT as public).

27. (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) Publications


RSS does not have a Publications Committee, so the representative to the RUSA Publications Committee serves to guide 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, but our representative to the RUSA committee will help you through the process.


7) RSS-L


The Section’s e-mail listserv provides the latest news and announcements 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.


8) rss_board@ala.org


The RSS Board maintains a closed e-mail discussion list at rss_board@ala.org.  Information is regularly shared with committee chairs and representatives to RUSA committees by the RSS Executive Committee members through this list.

 
9) 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 Organization and Planning Committee.

Updated September 2012.