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RSS Virtual Reference Services Committee Meeting Minutes (3/38/18)

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Meeting date: March 8, 2018


Present: Karen Reiman-Sendi (chair), Rachel Minkin, Judith Emde, Sara Metz, Rosalind Fielder, Rhonda Marker

Regrets: Whitney Vitale, Laura Friesen

Absent: Marissa Ball, Marissa Ellermann



  1. Introductions
  2. Updates/announcements
  • The previous meeting minutes posted in ALA Connected have been corrected, that is to display publicly.
  • The RSS section discussion topic proposed by RSS board for ALA Annual has been submitted. Title: Sound Bites: Current Conversations About Reference Services. Description: The RSS Discussion Group brings together librarians in public, school, academic, and other types of special libraries will share their experiences, expertise, and challenges. Join us in discussion one of three current reference issues: managing reference services in a library with a single point of service; providing multilingual library services; or developing best practices for using social media to extend and market reference services. Brainstorming is encouraged. You can select one of these topics to discuss in-depth, or you can circulate to find out trends in each area.
  • Cynthia A. Johnson (vice-chair) is considering committee appointments for 2918-2019. Please volunteer; please contact her directly with specific interests (e.g. “I want to be a chair!”).
  • Cynthia also asked committee chairs to provide feedback about future committee work/structure, in light of the recent ALA discussion about possible organizational restructuring, Karen mentioned that this committee could likely be combined with another RSS committee, such as Management of Reference.
  • We will submit a committee report based on our discussion at this meeting, for the RSS Review, by March 13th. We agreed that we should report out on the Virtual Reference Companion survey findings.
  • Virtual Reference Companion discussion
    • Background: Rachel and Judith created a survey. Karen shared the survey link with RSS-L subscribers. Rachel shared the survey link with a Michigan-only professional listserv. Karen shared survey link with a Big Ten reference managers listserv.
    • Laura was not able to update us on her research into Google Analytics for this site, but Karen recalled that the numbers didn’t seem high. It was difficult to interpret the hits without knowing the number of hits on other RUSA-related web sites. Rachel and Judith updated the committee on the survey results.
    • 49 respondents submitted survey results. While this may not be a large or a representative sample, it is likely that this is a population that would care about this web site and the content. Over half of the respondents didn’t use the Virtual Reference Companion. Responses to open-ended questions indicated a lack of awareness of the site and content. Respondents are using other resources for this kind of information. We thought that maybe the site was relevant when virtual reference was new, but the site may not be important to professionals now. Additionally, there were no sections of content that were more important than another. We discussed if we should archive this content, and we decided that we should not, as it does not really reflect the work of the organization, like meeting minutes and standards/guidelines do. The committee decided that we should delete this content as it is no longer relevant, noting that the time we would spend to maintain the content could be used in more valuable ways.
    • Karen thanked Rachel and Judith for wrangling with the survey creation and analysis.
  • Other business
    • The committee decided to cancel our two remaining online meetings given that we have met the goals we outlined in 2017.
    • The committee will meet at Annual 2018 (New Orleans) to start brainstorming and planning for a program to be held at ALA Annual 2019.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Karen A. Reiman-Sendi, chair