Library Council
University of Toronto Central Library System

Annual Report of the Reference Services Committee May 2001

The Reference Services Committee is a Standing Committee of Library Council, with members appointed by the heads of libraries or units. The Reference Services Committee met monthly throughout the year, with the exception of July. The July/August meetings were combined into a single meeting in August. The stated terms of reference of the Reference Services Committee are as follows:

Terms of Reference:

  1. To identify, consider and recommend initiatives to enhance reference services in the central library and, where appropriate, in the campus libraries.
  2. To share information related to reference services.
  3. To coordinate activities related to the provision of reference services.
  4. To anticipate and respond in a coordinated manner to developments in the library system which may have an impact on reference services.
  5. To recommend annually two of its members from the central library system to the Electronic Selection Subcommittee.
  6. One of the recommended members shall represent areas with science reference responsibilities, and one shall represent areas with social science and humanities reference responsibilities.
  7. To communicate relevant information related to reference services to other areas of the library system, as appropriate.
  8. To review, from time to time, existing reference services.
  9. To meet regularly, at least eight times a year.
  10. To report regularly to Library Council in May of each year.


The Reference Services Committee met its goals this year, with the exception of item 5, which will be considered in the June, 2001 meeting. In the past year, the Committee's accomplishments included:

  1. Hearing reports approximately monthly from Warren Holder and Sharon Brown (on behalf of EIRC), which allowed members to stay up to date on which electronic resources were being considered or added, which ones were currently on hold, which ones had problems that needed to be resolved, etc. We were also kept up to date on the progress of the Canadian National Site Licensing Project, considerations regarding the Collaborative Digital Reference Service, Universitas 21, and other major initiatives.
  2. Members also regularly brought questions and issues to meetings, i.e. difficulties with usage of or access to certain databases, issues regarding feedback to companies such as Elsevier and SilverPlatter on interfaces and default fields, issues regarding where items were placed on the U of T Libraries homepage, questions of how to prevent users from tying up computers with non-library work, and more.
  3. Meetings were also used to publicize training opportunities, such as sessions for NetLibrary, a talk and demonstration by Steve Coffmann of LSSI regarding online reference service, EndNote and Reference Manager training, an MLA teleconference on the impact of electronic journals on libraries, and others.
  4. At the request of the committee, Sian Meikle and Marc Lalonde attended the September meeting to discuss changes to the U of T Libraries home page, which had been made with the input of the Web Advisory Group.
  5. The Committee heard regular updates on DRA Web2.
  6. The Refinfo mailing list was heavily used as a means for members to provide input on various issues, and as a means for people to request such input.
  7. Members spent some time discussing the issue of the lengthy messages which were on the telnet version of UTLink. Campus libraries were contacted about their own individual messages, and the issue was discussed at length in meetings and on Refinfo. Ultimately, this was resolved by Peter Clinton, after members made several suggestions and raised questions.
  8. The Committee heard several presentations, including a presentation by Barbara Kern on Bioline International; a presentation by Jiabin Wang on the customized website developed by the Engineering Library for use at their Reference Desk; a presentation by Len Ferstman on the Student Outreach Project being conducted under the auspices of the Instruction in Library Use committee; a presentation by Carolyn Murray on brochures and templates, wherein she requested feedback for the Publications Committee; presentations by Sharon Brown and Patricia Bellamy on the ALA Midwinter Conference and the Virtual Reference Conference, respectively; a presentation by Patricia Meindl of the Chemistry Library on information literacy initiatives she has undertaken; and a presentation by Karen Turko on digital dissertations. 9. The issue of user requests for assistance with EndNote, and of the appropriateness of libraries purchasing this software, was discussed.

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