Guide to Policies & Procedures: Introduction

Back to Guide to Policies & Procedures

A Complete Guide to Working with RUSA

Congratulations on being elected or appointed to a leadership position in RUSA! This online guide consists of 15 chapters and is intended to serve as your general introduction to the organization as well as highlight procedures and policies important to RUSA. Highlights include

Forms referred to in the Guide can be accessed on their own pages. You may choose to view chapters in the present HTML format within the RUSA Web site’s framework or choose the “Print” button located at the end of the left menu bar to create a printer-friendly version.

We hope that this information will help you function effectively in RUSA. In addition to reviewing the information in the guide, you may want to consult the ALA Handbook of Organization.


Contact information & mailing address

Please contact the RUSA office ( if you have any questions. We’re here to serve you!

Mailing address

Reference and User Services Association, American Library Association, 225 N Michigan Ave, Suite 1300 Chicago, IL 60601



The Reference and User Services Association is a network to educate, empower, and inspire its members to advance the evolution of the profession and better serve users in a continuously changing information society.


Priorities and Strategies

Priority A: Financial Stability

A financially stable, effective organization includes equity, diversity, inclusion, and access.


  • Business Intelligence
  • Internal Communication
  • Volunteer Development
  • Equity, Diversity, inclusion, and access

Priority B: Advance the profession

Advance the evolution of the profession by supporting current and emerging practices within user services in libraries and related fields.


  • Standards, guidelines, best practices, competencies
  • Meaningful engagement of multiple library types and all roles
  • Equity, Diversity, inclusion, and access

Priority C: Recruitment

RUSA is composed of people working in all types of libraries and information organizations, from a diverse array of intersections of identity, ethnicities, backgrounds, and experiences.


  • Student outreach
  • Leaders and experts
  • Equity, Diversity, inclusion, and access

Priority D: Engagement

RUSA welcomes the creativity of its members and seeks partnerships with others in order to advance the reference and user services profession.


  • Structured and codified personal engagement
  • Partnerships with external to RUSA organizations
  • Mentoring programing Communication
  • Equity, Diversity, inclusion, and access



The division facilitates the development and conduct of direct service to library users, the development of programs and guidelines for service to meet the needs of these users, and assists libraries in reaching potential users. RUSA publishes Reference & User Services Quarterly ( RUSQ), a quarterly journal, and RUSA Update, an online newsletter.

RUSA has six sections and four interest groups:

Section membership is included in RUSA membership; you may join any or all sections for no additional charge. Membership in RUSA Interest Groups is open to any ALA member; RUSA membership is required only for interest group leadership. In addition to section-level committees and discussion groups, RUSA also has twelve committees at the division level and appoints representatives to other ALA units and outside organizations.



The Reference and Adult Services Division (RASD) was formed in 1972 by the merger of two long-established ALA divisions: the Adult Services Division (ASD) and the Reference Services Division (RSD). ASD was formed in 1957 when the Adult Education Section of the Public Library Division expanded to include interests of librarians in all types of libraries that serve adults. RSD was formed in the same year when two units and an ALA committee merged-The Reference Librarians Section of ACRL, the Reference Section of the Public Library Division and the ALA Bibliography Committee.

In September 1996, RASD became RUSA when the division changed its name to the Reference and User Services Association. In 2020, former Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA) members joined RUSA: the ALA Accessibility Assembly, Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Interest Group, and the Physical Delivery Interest Group. More information about RUSA’s history.

Last updated September 1 2021