Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee

Midwinter 2001 Meeting Minutes
Sunday, January 14, 2001
Wyndham Hotel, Woodlawn Room, Washington, D. C.

Attendance: Members: Paula Contreras (Chair), Suzanne Lorimer, Mike Havener, Jake Carlson, Lou Vyhnanek (Recorder), Nancy Skipper, Cindy Pierard, Lisa Horowitz; Visitors: Geraldine King, Susan Ware, Scott Mandernack, Martha Henderson, Ali Abdullah, Chuck Sherrill, Toni Katz, Matthew Saxton.

I. Approval of the Agenda: The agenda was approved.

II. Announcements: There were no announcements.

III. Report on Executive Committee Meeting: Paula attended the meeting and reported on the discussion. There were proposals mentioned both to shrink and expand MOUSS committees. Problems with room arrangements for the "all section" meeting were discussed. Input will be accepted through the annual conference, where they will be voted on. There was a request for someone to become the new editor of MOUSS Tales. Talk to Paula if you are interested.

IV. Old Business - Discussion Group: Lisa noted that the session on Reference Statistics will be held this afternoon. The committee is co-sponsoring the session along with the Discussion Forum on Reference Services in Large Research Libraries. Everything is set. An announcement about the session did appear in Cognotes. Jake visited Cognotes and they are sending someone to cover it. The session is seen as an initial venture in establishing some guidelines in this area.

V. Old Business - New Directions for Institute Program: Paula noted that two RUSA Institutes have been held so far on reference assessment methods. The question now is what to do next. Future options include a possible preconference but this has to be cost recovery. We could get vendors to sponsor it, with Gale as a possibility. Another option is to do a program involving people who have done assessment at their institutions, particularly assessment of digital reference. This was discussed further by the committee. Mike suggested a possible program on reference statistics. There was discussion as to whether to do this as a preconference or a program. The question was also raised about whether RUSA will hold another institute. Mike brought up the idea of a preconference on assessment at the 2003 annual conference. Lisa stated that we should look at all the options by the time of our next meeting. Matt Saxton joined the meeting and stated that he would definitely like to see some sort of regularly scheduled event. The consensus of the committee was to move toward a preconference before the ALA annual conference in 2003, but also to find out more about future RUSA Institutes, whether there will be one in the future and when will it be held. It may be that that the committee would also want to have a program at a future ALA conference on assessment.

VI. Old Business - Reference Assessment Manual: The manual was published in 1995 by Pierian Press and the committee discussed the idea of an update. Matt Saxton and John Richardson had expressed an interest in updating the manual and Matt Saxton joined the discussion at this meeting. He would like to see more of a thematic arrangement in the manual, including a methodology index and outcome variables in any new edition. He and John Richardson as editors would take the lead in making changes in the current manual with the help and cooperation of this committee. At the ALA annual conference he would have a formal table of contents and more details. There are issues of copyright involving the publisher, this committee, and ALA, as well as issues of copyright on the instruments presented. Matt sees the committee as giving direction to this effort. The question was also raised as to how this relates to Jo Bell Whitlatch's work. Mike stated that we may need something like a bibliographic entry to introduce this. He suggested the idea of a survey bank of different instruments. Nancy felt there needs to be a written document from this committee on this. The committee did do the annotated bibliography for Jo Bell's book. Matt will make a formal proposal at the next ALA annual conference in San Francisco and send it out before the meeting. There is also the question of contacting Pierian Press, which had the original contract for the manual. An idea mentioned was for a subcommittee of this committee to work with Matt and John.

New Business - Committee Chair: Paula is rotating off as Chair after the ALA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, raising the question of do we need to establish a chair-elect? There was discussion about a new chair and Paula will be talking to some members of the committee who might be interested, including Lisa, Elaina, and Leslie.

New Business - Next Steps: Paula stated that she would like to see the committee involved in putting together an annual review of reference assessment. Mike wondered what would be the venue for doing this? The idea was suggested of putting this in RUSA Quarterly or RUSA Update.

The committee adjourned its second meeting.


Submitted by: Lou Vyhnanek