2007 Annual Highlights

RUSA-RSS Reference Services in Large Research Libraries Discussion Group
Meeting Highlights, Sunday, June 24, 2007, 1:30-3:30 pm

Jo Kibbee at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is the outgoing Chair; Denise Shorey of Northwestern University is the incoming Chair; Sarah Wenzel of the University of Chicago is the incoming Vice-Chair. 35 people attended the session.

The first discussion focused on providing access to reference e-resources, whether encyclopedic or aggregated (such as Oxford Reference). Some strategies included adding them to “top ten” lists; to webpages designed for class instruction; or pitching larger resources to specific groups. The group felt that while users know the “big names” such as Britannica or the OED and would thus search for them in the catalog, the majority of other sources are familiar mostly to reference staff only who thus need to be creative in advertising or marketing them.

The second topic of discussion concerned services to alumni. Several institutions are making a list of free databases available to alumni, and some vendors market special “alumni” database sets. We should always remind alumni that they have access to many resources through their public library. Libraries are finding creative solutions to working with this special group of users. (This includes a dedicated alumni librarian; providing limited document delivery, and working with the alumni or the development office.)

What’s in a name? What do we call ourselves? This was a topic proposed from the floor and generated much discussion, including the need to distinguish internal labelling from terms meaningful to our constituencies. A related question was the name of the reference DESK and whether that should also be changed. Many libraries are incorporating “Research” into their names while remaining mindful that “Reference” is still meaningful to users.

In open discussion, we raised the question of developing quantitative data for service and performance measures based on the new NISO standards; discussed problems with some types of multi-volume resources; and briefly discussed the implications of vendor-faculty relationships on library purchasing.

Submitted by Jo Kibbee and Denise Shorey