2005 Annual in Chicago

RUSA MARS/RSS Virtual Reference Committee Meeting
ALA Annual Conference 2005
Chicago, IL
The Palmer House Hilton - Dearborn 1
Sunday, June 26, 2005
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.


Members present: Joe Thompson (co-chair, RSS), Donna Dinberg, Alex Hodges, Ron Burdick, Sheryl Katzin, Buff Hirko, Franceen Gaudet, Erica Danowitz, Meg Meiman. [Not present due to scheduling conflict: Jana Ronan (co-chair, MARS)]

Visitors Present: Doris Ann Sweet (chair of MARS), Anne Moore (incoming chair of the MARS Virtual Reference discussion group)

1) Introductions
The committee members present introduced themselves. There was general merriment.

2) Call for suggestions to change the website and committee roster
Joe mentioned the committee’s charge on its web page is only two sentences long and purposely inclusive: To identify and study issues relating to virtual reference services, and to evaluate and promote technological and service standards, guidelines, and “best practices” for virtual reference services in all types of libraries. Virtual Reference describes reference transactions that take place in an electronic medium.

Jana has created a mock-up of the committee web page that also includes the following information:

Established: June 2004, at the ALA annual conference in Orlando, Florida.
Composition: This cooperative committee is co-chaired by a representative from RSS and a member from MARS. Membership: One co-chair, four members, and one intern from MARS; One co-chair, four members, and one intern from RSS.
Terms of Office: The members of the committee shall serve two-year terms. New members are generally appointed in the spring by the newly-elected Vice-Chairs of MARS and RSS.
Roster: MARS: Jana Ronan (co-chair), Alex Hodges, Buff Hirko, Deidre McDonald, and Beth Robers (intern). RSS: Joe Thompson (co-chair), Ron Burdick, Stephen Marvin, Barbara Petersohn, and Sheryl Katzin (intern).

Virtual members: Francine Gaudet, Donna Dinberg, Erica Danowitz, and Meg Meiman. As virtual members, they may participate in the committee’s work and attend meetings (which are always open to all visitors). We are unsure at this point whether virtual members will be listed on the official roster on the committee’s web page or not. The members present agreed to make it a priority to attend committee meetings at both the Midwinter and Annual conferences.

3) Projects
MARS Virtual Reference Discussion group – the committee discussed ideas for the next discussion group to be held in San Antonio at Midwinter 2006. Possible topics include: Approaches to dealing with librarian resistance to virtual reference; getting groups to list reasons why virtual reference should or shouldn’t be a part of reference; and brainstorming ways of integrating services, how VR affects staffing, and staffing VR in a consortium environment. Anne Moore suggested this committee and MARS co-sponsor the discussion group, and also suggested a title: “It’s All Just Reference.” Anne will keep the committee informed about upcoming deadlines for the title and other related matters. Another suggested topic was more discussion about the Digital Reference Education Initiative, which was the topic at this year’s conference Discussion Group.

Index of Virtual Reference Services – the committee discussed how to create an online index of all chat reference services in public, academic and special libraries. While the index may grow into something more, for now it will be an index, and limited to the United States and Canada. Joe asked for volunteers to form a sub-committee. Erica, Donna and Meg volunteered, and the rest of the committee will be a resource for the sub-committee. Stephen Francoeur, Bernie Sloan and Gerry McKiernan will likely need to be contacted for permission to use their lists to start. Jana Ronan will take the lead on this initiative.

Maintaining “Guidelines for Implementing and Maintaining Virtual Reference Services.” These will be updated every five years. Since they were recently updated, this is one project the committee can check off its list for now.

Participation in design and testing for ALA Online Communities – Joe will forward the committee more information about this.

Program for ALA Annual Conference 2006 – RSS and MARS Executive Committees authorized the suggested topic of how to deal with challenging users. The committee discussed several working titles and possible speakers, given the tight deadline (today!). The committee agreed on a tentative list of speakers: Sharon Morris (AskColorado Cooperative),Virginia Cole (Cornell University) and Ron Burdick (Cleveland Public Library) or another public librarian working with virtual reference. The deadline for a finalized title is October. Once approved by RUSA’s Conference Programming Committee, we can continue to make updates online until early 2006.

Suggested titles:
Real Jerks in a Virtual World
Problem Patrons in a Virtual World
That’s Inappropriate!
Are You a Boy or a Girl?
Abuse is in the Eye of the Beholder
What Are You Wearing?
Managing Challenging Users
Communication Breakdown
Kids in the Queue

The committee adjourned with great cheer yet great haste, as everyone rushed off to their next meeting.

Minutes submitted by Meg Meiman (updated: Joe Thompson)