MOUSS Evaluation of Reference and User Services

Midwinter 2003 Meeting Minutes
Westin Philadelphia, Salon III (ALL Committee Meetings)
Saturday, 25 January 2003

Members Present:

Gordon Aamot, University of Washington
Jake Carlson, Bucknell University
Claudia Epps-Timmann, University of Arizona
CHAIR, Lisa Horowitz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Suzanne Lorimer, Yale
Barbara Mann, Emory
Lanell Rabner, Brigham Young University
Judy Solberg, George Washington University
Chip Stewart, The City College of New York
Susan Ware, Pennsylvania State University

Visitors: Franceen Gaudet, National Library of Canada & Ping Situ, University of Arizona

Absent: Chris Coleman, Leslie Haas, Nancy Skipper
This meeting was part of the MOUSS All Committee meetings, which were being held at the same time in the same room. Diana Shonrock began the session by making a few announcements. She introduced the executive board and encouraged people to vote for Gwen Arthur, past chair of MOUSS, in the upcoming election. Diana also introduced all the chairs of the various committees. The executive board pleaded with all the committees to attend the MOUSS meeting at the Doubletree on Monday, 27 January 2003. This meeting will be an open forum about revisioning MOUSS. The board would like feedback in terms of issues surrounding different sections. Diana reminded the group about deadlines in regards to program planning for Annual in Toronto and other conferences. ERUS was touted for their pre-conference workshop on evaluation and tools for reference.
At approximately 10.00am, chair Lisa Horowitz called to order the meeting of the Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee (ERUS/MOUSS). Lisa handed out the agenda to all present.

1. Welcome and Introductions

Everyone stated their names and places of employment. Visitors were welcomed and encouraged to volunteer and become full fledged members.

2. Review Agenda

The agenda was reviewed and the chair informed the group she would save announcements for the end of the session.

3. Bibliography Committee

Suzanne and Lisa spoke about the bibliography, which was compiled for ALA Annual. It consists of articles over the past century that define reference. We would like it to be highlighted on MOUSS’ website. In order to publish the bibliography, it will need to go through the RUSA Publishing Committee.


  • Hold off from putting it on the web until we have an introduction.
  • Suzanne and Barb will attempt to create an executive summary by ALA Annual.
  • The Guidelines SubCommittee should find a way to use the bibliography.
  • Lisa or Jake will create publicity for it, once it is on the web.

4. Guidelines for Reference Statistics

A. Lisa reviewed the project for new members. The RUSA Board has indicated that they feel that the future of reference depends on these guidelines. Lisa spoke to Mary Jo Lynch from the ALA Office of Measurement and Statistics, who said we need a definition of reference practices. Her office can help us with surveys and statistical needs as we create the guidelines. Mary Jo also said that NCES has a new definition of reference. One thing to keep in mind is that Mary Jo Lynch has a page with links to all library data.
ARL also has a question and answer page to figure out how institutions can include other stats that ARL does not include in its regular statistics. ARL has biennial surveys that measure reference services (I forget what they do — someone remind me?) The next survey does not occur until 2004.

It was also recommended that we look at the new guidelines by Lankes and McClure on digital reference.

The desired formats for the survey: online version and paper. The survey should have clear vocabulary and include a glossary so people know exactly what we mean.


  • Barb will look for new definition given by NCES.
  • Gordon Aamot will look at the stats on the ARL page.
  • Jake will look at the Oberlin Group for statistics available for liberal arts colleges (the Oberlin Group is equivalent to ARL for liberal arts colleges).
  • Lisa will find the NISO document with the new definition of reference written by Mary Jo.
  • Lanell will research the Federal Cooperative System for Public Library Data and provide feedback in terms of public library stats

4B. Project Managers

Lisa asked the committee if they would be in favor of Project Managers. All agreed that it is a great idea. Susan and Lanell volunteered and were accepted. Both committed until closure of the project.

4C. Survey review

Several people created checklists as the first step toward creating a survey. Discussion ensued about the checklists, and steps we need to take to get to a survey, and to create guidelines.

Lisa informed the committee of a document online about crafting guidelines. It says 5-7 years, but a timeline should be created that is feasible for all to meet so that the project will get finished. It should be presented in as many formats as possible and sent through the process for approval.

Barbara handed out “Definitions from other library organizations” to the committee for perusal and input. Barbara walked the committee through the list of definitions from other library organizations. There is no public librarian on the committee, so this creates a difficulty in terms of that point of view.

4.D Brainstorming the Checklists

The group reviewed the checklists developed by Susan, Judy, and Lanell on what constitutes reference work, what constitutes a reference transaction, and what to measure in assessing reference service. The following changes were recommended:

To the checklist on Reference Work:

  • Add outreach or marketing activities or publicizing reference service; Perhaps defer from defending ourselves and tout ourselves as offering value-added services; marketing is a business term
  • Add instruction by describing the informal, consultative aspect in a reference transaction
  • Add interface design (e.g., menus for OPACS)

The rest of this discussion was postponed until Sunday’s meeting.

5. Approve Past Minutes

Committee approved past minutes

6. Announcements

“Future of MOUSS” meeting
“ALA Research and Stats Assembly” meeting—chairs of all committees will share information at this session 4.30-5.30 in the Marriott

Respectfully submitted,
Claudia Epps-Timmann, Intern