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Larayne Dallas's picture

RUSA Committee Report -- Midwinter Meeting 2011




RUSA Committee Report


Date:  1-26-2011


Please check one:


q Annual Conference                        x Midwinter Meeting


Name of Committee:  Standards and Guidelines Committee (referred to throughout as S&G)

Name of Section:

Chairperson:   Larayne Dallas

Your e-mail:  Ldallas@austin.utexas.edu



For Committees:

Members present:  Steve Alleman (CODES Representative), Bryan Coonin (MARS representative), Larayne Dallas (chair), Mary Parker (member), and Charles Thurston (HS representative).

Members not at conference:  Linda Friend (member), Janice Fryer (member), Meredith McCarthy (member), Rebecca Smith (BRASS representative), Candice Perry Townsend (STARS representative), Susan Ware (RSS representative).

Visitors:  no visitors



Objectives of committee for this conference year:  As always:  To advise the RUSA Board of Directors on guidelines “for the delivery of reference information services and of general library services and materials to adults.”  Also, to work with RUSA members and committees in the preparation and review of guidelines.  For this year especially:  To clear up uncertainties about some old guidelines and to improve the information provided on the RUSA website about preparing guidelines.


Summary of Meeting (summarize discussions, decision reached, follow-up action decided)
1. S&G members noted RUSA Board approval of “Resource-Sharing Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters” and the excellent follow up work by RUSA staff in handling the guideline.  The guideline, a product of the STARS Codes, Guidelines, and Technical Standards Committee, has been posted on the RUSA web pages.  The text was published in Reference & User Services Quarterly v.50, no.2.  (Other recent guidelines appeared in RUSQ v.50, no.1.)  Members noted the importance of having a copy of each guideline in the journal for historical reference.

2. S&G’s own guide showing the status of the various RUSA guidelines is adjusted – after discussion at Annual 2010 – so that various guidelines are in categories better reflecting subject matter.  Larayne apologized that she had not spoken with RUSA staff about making similar adjustments to the RUSA web page listing guidelines.

3. Thanks to RUSA staff, “Guidelines for Library Service to Teens” (2007) and “Guidelines for Developing a Core Genealogy Collection” (2007) have been posted to the RUSA web pages.  Likewise, requested corrections have been made to the web version of Chapter 4 – the chapter on guidelines -- of RUSA Guides to Policies and Procedures and the “Checklist” restored.

4. Charles Thurston, History Section Representative, reported on the continuing work of the Instruction and Research Services Committee in preparing a new guideline.  Charley reported good progress on their research/information guidelines for undergraduate history students.  A question from the group concerned the timing of request for comment by members of a professional group for historians.  S&G members thought that historians should be contacted at the same time as other groups.

5. Charley raised an issue of concern.  He had approached the chair of the History Section Local History Committee with a reminder about the up-coming review date for the “Guidelines for Establishing Local History Collections.”  The chairperson told Charley that she did not plan to have the committee work on the revision.  So, what to do?  At Mary Parker’s suggestion, Larayne will contact members of the History Section Executive Committee.    

6. Larayne Dallas reminded the group about the situation with “Guidelines for Interlibrary Loan Operations Management,” from the STARS Codes, Guidelines, and Technical Standards Committee.  Following approval by the STARS Executive Committee, the guideline was discussed by S&G members at Annual 2010, with a general feeling of reservation about recommending approval of the guideline.  After the conference, Bryna Coonin, one of our S&G members, gathered comments on the guideline from other committee members. Those were shared with STARS representatives soon after Annual 2010.

7. RSS Management of Reference Committee members are currently reviewing:

-“Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Services Providers.”

-“Professional Competencies for Reference and User Services Librarians.”  Members are first focusing on the “Behavioral Guidelines.”  Larayne had attended the Midwinter meeting of the Management of Reference Committee and reported on behalf of Susan Ware, RSS Representative.  Members of the reviewing committee hope to have a final draft ready by Annual 2011.  S&G members spoke in support of the “Behavioral Guidelines” and of their important role in reference training programs across the country.  These members encouraged broad sharing of the draft revision and an early transmittal to S&G.  Looking forward to work on “Professional Competencies,” Bryna Coonin, on behalf of MARS, encouraged input from that section and there was general support for the value of the guideline.

 8. Steve Alleman, CODES representative, provided an update on the revision status of “Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements” 1996).  Steve explained that, despite the value of the guide, it has languished in part because ALA no longer publishes committee products of this length.  He had communicated with Stephen Dew, of the ALECTS Collection Management and Development Section Publications Committee.  Stephen Dew indicated an interest in taking up Steve’s suggestion of revising the guide as joint project, in conjunction with RUSA.  Steve plans to talk with members of the CODES Executive Committee about the best way to work within CODES.  S&G members expressed support.

9. “Guidelines for Medical, Legal and Business Responses at General Reference Desks” (2001) is one of two older RUSA guidelines with an uncertain status – We think that this guideline was revised with a more limited scope and approved as a RUSA guideline in 2008, but records of the approval were lost.  Larayne reported good news:  Leticia (Lety) Camacho, chair of the BRASS Education Committee has asked members of that committee to begin a review of the narrower guideline, “Guidelines for Business Information Service Responses.”  This followed a recent request from S&G.  In the discussion that followed, concern was expressed about the dropping of coverage for the medical and legal components of the old guideline.  Larayne will contact the Management of Reference Committee as a possible sponsor for a new guideline addressing these topics or for their recommendations.

10. “Guidelines for Information Services” (2000) is the other guideline on uncertain footing.  We know that there was discussion of the feasibility of the project in 2007 when the guideline was up for review.  It does not appear that the guideline was revised.  In correspondence Susan had shared a memory of reports of difficulty from the would-be revisers.  Also in correspondence, Linda supported a continuing life for the guideline.  Susan had sent an e-mail inquiry about the guideline to the chair of the Access to Information Committee, the last sponsor of the guideline, following Annual 2010 but had not heard a response.  Larayne reported that Linda, as a member of the Access to Information Committee, planned to contact the current committee to ask about the possibility of taking up the task of revision.

11. Our goal of improving information for those writing guidelines focuses on revising the Chapter 4: “Guidelines – Procedures for Developing Guidelines” in RUSA Guide to Policies and Procedures.  Members reviewed the newest draft revision, prepared by Susan Ware.  Discussion included some recent issues to consider for inclusion in Chapter 4:  Proper form for guideline authorship, what notification deadlines mean in a new era for Board meetings, how to make sure that guidelines are properly reviewed before they reach final stages, and a staged presentation to help give authors a sense of accomplishment. We hoped to be able to make progress on the revision by scheduling a discussion of before Annual 2011.

12. As far as future discussions and meetings, Mary volunteered the use of meeting-software to which she has access.  For Annual 2011, Sunday morning -- but not the earliest slot – seems likely. 


Evaluate the committee’s effectiveness in accomplishing its objectivesWe seem to be keeping in contact with those working on new or revised guidelines, though we realize that we need to be evaluating text and structure at earlier stages of development.  Revising the information provided to members about how to prepare guidelines is an important job and we have a good start on that job.  Steve Alleman did a great job in noticing – and offering a route for updating – a valuable tool that otherwise might be lost.

What problems did you encounterThere were several incidents of inability to answer questions we thought we ought to be able to answer about guidelines.  We heard that a committee chair was declining to shepherd a guideline through revisions and we are concerned about how best to handle the matter. 

List any recommendations you have for action by the RUSA Board of DirectorsS& G members do not have guidelines or other matters for Board action.   Repeating from the body of the report:  We are glad to see the new and revised guidelines published in RUSQ and appreciate the good work of RUSA staff in updating the RUSA website.

Larayne Dallas, Chair of the RUSA Standards and Guidelines Committee – 1/26/2011

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Signature of person reporting                                                                 date