MOUSS Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee

Annual 2001 Meeting Minutes, June 17, 2001

Introductions were made:

Present: Lisa Horowitz, Nancy Skipper, Lou Vyhnanek, Judy Solberg, Paula Contreras, Susan Ware, Charles Bunge, Leslie Haas, Christopher Coleman, Elaina Norlin, Matthew Saxton, Mike Havener, Cindy Pierard.


Lisa Horowitz will be the new chairperson of this committee.

A MARS committee may be working on an electronic reference related topic so there is a possibility of a joint discussion forum at Midwinter. A question to address might be: "At what point do e-reference transactions become high enough that you can close a reference desk or reduce desk staffing?" Leslie Haas agreed to be the contact person to the mars committee. Lisa agreed to bring Leslie's contact information to someone from that committee. We agreed to co-sponsor this, if it comes to pass.

Mention was made of "Using ACRL Standards as Assessment Tools" in college and medium-sized libraries. This was a discussion group that occurred on Monday at ACRL Paula attended. We should ask her if it was of value for our committee.


The agenda was approved

MOUSS Executive Committee Meeting Report:

Lisa & Paula reported on a meeting they attended in which a proposal to shorten Midwinter by one day was discussed. There are plans to have one program for 2001/02 on marketing library services and information literacy goals. The issue of meeting 'tracks" was also discussed and several comments were made about how hard it is to use the printed program. Listings by time need to be improved.

Reference Statistics Subcommittee:

Chris Coleman agreed to chair a committee that will that will focus on standards and guidelines for reference statistics. Several ideas were discussed including a Midwinter discussion forum to gather input. Speakers could be invited from different library types, including public libraries, to focus on what's needed in such guidelines. Each member of the subcommittee will find volunteers to speak. Susan Ware and Judy Soleberg volunteered. Paula will announce our intentions at the Executive Committee. Saturday, 4:30 - 5:30 was mentioned as a time for the midwinter discussion forum. Elaina mentioned the importance of incorporating "digital" reference statistics. Eric Novotny will inform the Research Statistics committee about our plans.


Several questions were raised about the potential value, for assessing reference services, of the LibQual survey instrument that many ARL libraries are performing this year. Nancy and Leslie are involved in LibQual surveys at their respective institutions and will give an informal report on its potential value at Midwinter.

Reference Assessment Manual:

Discussion continued on the topic of the future of the Reference Assessment Manual. Matt and John Richardson have created two online products, including a database of over 1,000 citations that duplicate the bibliographic component of the original R.A.M.

They are creating new annotations and are less excited about the prospect of a print product. Discussion ensued on the potential market for R.A.M. 2. Should it be geared for the practitioner or the researcher/scholar? What role can the Evaluation of Reference Committee play in producing a useful product or publication, beyond the bibliography? And how does all this relate to Jo Bell's book "Evaluating Reference Services?" Matt will make a more formal presentation at Midwinter about their project. Michael Havener will invite Charles Bunge to be a guest at Midwinter, or will communicate with him via e-mail to elicit his views of the matter. Michael will also contact Jo Bell about her plans and views.

Discussion Forum Idea:

Our focus returned to the discussion forum concept. (See above - Reference statistics Subcommittee). The point was made that it's important to focus on qualitative as well as quantitative issues and articulate why we need data and clear guidelines to facilitate the collection of such data. The goal, ultimately, is to improve service. RUSA Behavioral Guidelines could provide a useful model. Output outcomes are just as important as input measures. Process must be linked to outcome. The need for statistics standards in this area came from the RUSA MOUSS Board. [Not sure if this is the correct organizational group]They are also considering standards for Performance Appraisals. Nancy will convey this information to the Performance Issues Discussion Group.

Elaina Norlin agreed to be the moderator of the discussion forum. Leslie will work on publicity Cindy Pierard will help with communications via listservs (LIBREF-L). Lisa will get information into the RUSA Update and onto our web site. The value of a PowerPoint presentation and handouts was discussed.

RUSA Institute vs. Preconference:

The idea of providing an ALA preconference instead of a full-blown RUSA Institute on reference service assessment was discussed. The proposal must be submitted before the end of Midwinter. The format and content would have to be changed to fit into one day and to incorporate assessing digital reference services. The focus should remain, however, upon tools & methodologies. Comments were made about the increasing use of focus groups and how important it is to cover that approach. A subcommittee with Paul, Cindy, Louis & Michael will work on this concept.

Meeting Times:

Tentative meeting times for Midwinter (Saturday and Sunday mornings) and Annual (Saturday and Monday mornings) were discussed.

Respectfully Submitted,

Nancy Skipper 11/28/01