For immediate release | May 8, 2012

RUSA Reference Service Press Award presented to research articles in consumer health literacy, service provision standards

CHICAGO — Two articles published in “Reference and User Services Quarterly” (RUSQ) are being honored with the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) 2012 Reference Service Press Award: “Promoting Consumer Health Literacy: Creation of a Health Information Librarian Fellowship,” authored by Nancy D. Zionts, Jan Apter, Julianna Kuchta and Pamela K. Greenhouse, and “Are We Getting Warmer?: Query Clarification in Live Chat Virtual Reference,” authored by Marie L. Radford, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Patrick A. Confer, Susanna Sabolcsi-Boros and Hannah Kwon.

The winners were selected from among the multitude of articles appearing in volumes 49 and 50 of RUSQ, the quarterly research journal published by RUSA. The award, which is sponsored by Reference Service Press, presents a $2,500 cash prize and a plaque to the winners and recognizes the most outstanding article in the preceding two volumes of the journal that exemplifies one or more of the following: originality, timeliness, relevance to RUSA members’ areas of interest and concern and quality of writing.

“Promoting Consumer Health Literacy” reports on a project in Pittsburgh, Pa., that increased the capacity of public librarians to help their users locate and use publicly available health care information. The article includes a well-documented needs assessment; describes the history of a project that partnered a healthcare organization and the public library system; assesses the effectiveness of the project and looks forward to next steps. Beyond the benefit of the project to citizens of Pittsburgh and the organizations directly involved, the article includes a list of consumer health websites that any library can use as the basis for guiding their own users, creating opportunities for other cities to reproduce this project. The article is a model of libraries’ responsiveness to their communities, especially as they seek to create services for the less-advantaged members of the community. The authors not only investigate a situation but create a program that makes a difference to the practice of librarianship and involves a partnership of librarians and other organizations in the community for the good of all.

“Are We Getting Warmer?” involves qualitative analysis of service provision standards--an important area of librarian/user interaction that is at the core of reference work today. The literature review and fulsome notes will be useful especially to LIS students as a model for their own work, even as the testing and analysis participate in a well-established research program, the purpose of which is the improvement of service provision. The authors recommend practical applications for their results instead of simple claims that results are interesting or suggestive and need further investigation. As communication practices and technologies, library organizations, and the roles and tools of librarians change, this research speaks to all library settings and to the ongoing or fundamental concern of librarians for informed, timely flexible, and thorough responsiveness in connecting users with the information they need.

The authors will be honored at the RUSA Awards Reception, scheduled for 5 – 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 24 in the Sequoia South Ballroom D at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel as a part of RUSA's events at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif. For more information, visit RUSA’s website or the Annual Conference website.

The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Learn more about the association at


Elizabeth Markel

Marketing and Programs Manager


(312) 280-4398