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Emerging Technologies Section (ETS) | The American Library Association Archives

Name: Emerging Technologies Section (ETS)
Variant Name: Machine Assisted Reference Section (MARS)

Historical Note:

The Machine Assisted Reference Section (MARS) was established by action of the RASD Board at the 1977 ALA Annual Conference (Detroit, Michigan) (1) "in direct response to an accurately perceived need for a division forum dedicated to studying the impact of emerging computer technology on library reference services" (2). Its purpose was to represent "the interests of those planning, managing, teaching, or conducting computer-based reference service in libraries" (3). With the advent of "inducer" searching and the proliferation of CD-Rom products, the section's mission has widened:

[MARS] represents the interests of those concerned with attaining the highest possible quality in planning, developing, managing, teaching, or conducting all forms of computer-based reference and information services in libraries.

The responsibilities of the section are:

1. To conduct activities and projects within the section's areas of interest

2. To be a means of sharing experience and information among

interested librarians from all types of libraries and information services.

3. To seek to synthesize the activities of other units within the American Library Association that have a bearing on machine-assisted reference services.

4. To be a forum for discussion between librarians and the producers and suppliers of computerized reference and information services in a variety of formats.

5. To represent the needs and interests of the wide diversity of library users (5).

In addition to its programs and forums at ALA Conferences, the section disseminates information about its activities through a quarterly newsletter circulated among MARS officers and chairs; through articles in RQ and RASD Update and through the "Messages from MARS" column in the latter journal (5).

In June, 2015, MARS officially changed its name to the Emerging Technologies Section (ETS).

Organization (as of 1988-89)

1 - Executive Committee

2 - Conference Program Committee

3 - Costs and Financing of Machine-Assisted Reference Services Committee

4 - Database Products and Computerized Search Service Vendors Committee

5 - Direct Patron Access to Computer-based Reference Systems Committee

Locally Mounted Database Systems (ad hoc subcommittees)

Remote Access to Library Services and Information Systems (Ad hoc subcommittee)

6 - Education and Training of Search Analysts Committee

7 - Measurement and Evaluation of Service Committees

8 - Nominating Committee

9 - Nonbibliographic Databases and Datafiles Committee

10 - Planning Committee

11 - Publications Committee

12 - Use of Machine Assisted Reference Services in Public Libraries Committee

13 - Discussion Groups

Disc Technology

Issues and Ethics


1. ALA Council Minutes, 1978 Annual Conference, p. 31.

2. Nancy Green-Maloney, "Ten Years on MARS: Keeping Up with Current Issues," RQ 26 (spring 1987), p. 277.

3. ALA Handbook, 1977-78, p. 56.

4. ALA Handbook, 1988-89, pp. 129-130.

5. Green-Maloney, p. 279.

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