MOUSS Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee

Midwinter 2002 Meeting Minutes
January 19, 2002

Chair Lisa Horowitz called the meeting of the Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee (RUSA MOUSS) to order at 9:35 AM on Saturday, January 19, 2002, in the Riverview Room, Hotel Monteleone, in New Orleans, La. This meeting was part of the MOUSS All Committee meetings, which were being held at the same time in the same room.

Members present were: Jake Carlson ( Bucknell); Paula Contreras (Pennsylvania State), emeritus member; Christopher Coleman (UCLA); Lisa Horowitz (MIT), chair; Suzanne Lorimer (Yale); Barb Mann (Emory); Lanell Rabner (Brigham Young); Nancy Skipper ( Cornell); Judy Solberg (George Washington); Douglas Stehle (Southwest Missouri State); Lou Vyhnanek (Washington State); and Susan Ware (Pennsylvania State). Visitor David Tyckoson (CSU-Fresno) also attended.

Committee Review

The first order of business, after introductions, was the review of the committee lead by Paula Contreras. Each MOUSS committee was asked to see how its work fit into the strategic plan of MOUSS and RUSA. For our meeting, Paula asked the question "What is the interest level in the committee as evidenced by attendance and participation by members and observers?" The answer was a high interest level as evidenced by committee members and visitors that attend the meetings. It was pointed out that having the all committee meetings in the same room did hamper visitor attendance.

During this discussion, the question was also raised regarding ways for new members to be up to speed in the committee's work. It was suggested that the chair send out suggestions of what new members should read. In addition, perhaps the website could be updated to include other useful information. The MARS website was suggested as an example of a place to look to see what kind of things might be added.

Other questions that were answered by this committee as part of the Committee Review for RUSA have already been answered. These questions and answers can be found at

ALA Pre-Conference

The next order of business was a discussion of an ALA Pre-Conference to be held during Annual 2003 in Toronto. In 1998 a RUSA Institute, sponsored by this committee, focused on the evaluation of reference. Topics covered included focus groups/interviews, surveys/questionnaires, and observation. The RUSA Institute was held again in 2000.

The committee's decision is to now offer this as a pre-conference during Annual 2003. The discussion then focused on the format and depth of coverage. It was decided that, given possible funding constraints of participants, the format will be one day, instead of the one and a half days of the Institute, and may extend into the evening. The depth of coverage was a concern as it is important to adequately cover all three areas. The suggestion was made to have tracks. The question regarding the target audience was raised. Since this will be held during ALA the audience will be different than that of the RUSA Institute. Should the focus be advanced or introductory? The consensus was that the pre-conference should serve as an introduction to these evaluation methods.

A sub-committee is working on the details. A proposal will be submitted to the MOUSS Executive Committee, which meets after our meeting.

Minutes approval

The approval of minutes from the committee's meeting during ALA annual was next. The minutes from Saturday, June 16, 2001, were approved with changes to the list of attendees. The Sunday, June 17, 2001, minutes were approved as written.


**Lisa listed ALA Midwinter meetings that were tangential to this committee.

**Announcement was made of the RUSA MARS Pre-Conference for ALA Annual 2002 in Atlanta on Digital Reference. The Pre-conference Committee welcomes suggestions, and people from this committee in particular may have specific ideas related to assessment.


This committee is hosting a discussion forum entitled "Sex, Lies and Reference Statistics: Does Reference Count?" which will be held on Saturday, January 19, from 4:30-5:30 PM in the Hotel Monteleone. Publicity flyers have been distributed. The ALA meeting program does not list this as a discussion forum, but Cognotes included a publicity blurb in the Friday issue. A committee member will write up a summary for listserv dissemination and Cognote inclusion. The major goal of this discussion is to give the committee more information about what kinds of guidelines are needed for reference statistics.

This committee was asked by RUSA to investigate, consider, and re-write the definition of reference and a reference transaction in our development of guidelines for reference statistics.


Lisa adjourned this meeting at 10:53 A.M.