LIBR 221-10
Government Information Sources
Spring 2009 Greensheet

bontenbal photo Kevin Bontenbal



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Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
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The access code for this course for ANGEL will be sent to those enrolled in the class via the MySJSU messaging system a few days prior to start of the semester. The course will be open for self-enrollment at the time the access code is sent.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the variety of government information sources produced by the United States government, both in print, and online. This goal of this course is to provide students with a broad understanding of the significance and use of government information sources. The course will examine government information resources and consider issues of access, availability, dissemination, and archival issues. Although the main focus of the course will be on United States government sources, state and local sources will also be investigated.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of the course the student should be able to:

  • Understand the significance of government information sources.
  • Promote the purpose and role of government sources.
  • Articulate the issues and trends that affect access, availability, dissemination, and use of government sources.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how government information sources are organized and used.
  • Recognize, understand, and use government sources, both traditional, and electronic.
  • Understand the value of government sources to users in both public and academic libraries.
  • Identify the kinds of questions for which government information sources can answer.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Delineate the significance and value of government information sources.
  • Working knowledge of the structure, processes, and documents of the US Government with a general knowledge of international, state, and local government information.
  • How to evaluate, analyze, and answer government information requests.
  • Identifying the appropriate context of use of government documents and sources.
  • Develop best practices and methods on discovering government information regardless of topic.
  • Knowledge of when and where to refer questions you cannot answer.
  • Understanding the dynamic landscape surrounding digital government information and e-Government:

LIBR 221 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • compare the environments and organizational settings in which library and information professionals practice;
  • recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use.

In addition, this section supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • demonstrate proficiency in the use of current information and communication technologies, and other related technologies, as they affect the resources and uses of libraries and other types of information providing entities;
  • understand the nature of research, research methods and research findings; retrieve, evaluate and synthesize scholarly and professional literature for informed decision-making by specific client groups;
  • demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for group work, collaborations and professional level presentations;
  • evaluate programs and services on specified criteria; and
  • contribute to the cultural, economic, educational and social well-being of our communities.

Course Requirements

This course will be conducted entirely online using ANGEL. Lectures, assignments, and most communications, including discussions and announcements, will be conducted via ANGEL.

Please see the ANGEL Tutorials on how to enroll in a ANGEL course at To self-enroll in the ANGEL site for this course you must:

  1. Be registered for the course FIRST.
  2. The access code for the ANGEL site will be sent to those enrolled in the class via the messaging system a day or two prior to the beginning of the course.

You must be extremely organized, disciplined and self-motivated in order to complete an online course successfully. Though you can access the course materials online anytime, plan to set aside time each day to complete the readings and assignments. It’s too easy to get behind quickly.

Here is an overview of the assignments for this course:

  • Readings
    Each week there will be:
    • an online “lecture” provided by the instructor via Blackboard;
    • readings from the textbook;
    • article readings regarding government information, and;
    • other readings as assigned.
  • Online Discussions
    Throughout the course, approximately every other week there will be a discussion topic posted to the class discussion board on a topic related to the course readings. Students will be expected to provide a thoughtful and reflective response to these topics. In addition to responding to each of the seven topics, students are also encouraged to engage in dialog with each other by responding to other student's responses to the topics.
  • Reflective Essays Addressing Topics Covered in Class or Readings
    These essays will require students to formalize their understanding and exhibit critical thinking about course topics and readings. Each essay should be no more than 5 pages. Student will have the option of selecting any course topic that has been covered prior to the due date of each essay.

    Each essay should contain a bibliography that includes at least two sources in proper APA format. Sources can be from personal readings, the textbook, online articles or online subscriptions. Each essay is worth 10 points for a total of 20 points.
  • Government Information Scavenger Hunt
    Students will be given a list of questions that they must find the answers to using government information sources and the Web.
  • Research Paper
    Students will write a research paper on some aspect related to government publications. This paper can be based on issues or resources discussed in class, or another topic with instructor approval.

    The research paper should be no more than 12 pages in length and double-spaced. An abstract should be included at the beginning of the paper and a bibliography in proper APA format.

    This paper will be graded on the content and how well you analyze and support your argument. Proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation are also very important.

    The research paper is worth a total of 50 points.

Total Possible Points are 200:

Discussion Topic Responses (10 points each) 70 points
Reflective Essays (25 points each) 50 points
Government Information Scavenger Hunt 30 points
Research Paper 50 points

Course Calendar

Week One  Introduction and Overview
Week Two  Access to Government Information
Week Three  Government Printing Office (GPO)
Week Four  Depository Libraries
Week Five  Finding Aids and References Sources
Week Six  Statistical Sources
Week Seven Geographic Information Sources 
Week Eight  Legislative Branch Information Sources
Week Nine  The Presidency
Week Ten  Spring Recess
Week Eleven  Department and Agencies
Week Twelve  Administrative Law
Week Thirteen  Legal Information Sources
Week Fourteen Intellectual Property  
Week Fifteen  Foreign and International Documents
Week Sixteen  State and Local Information

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism
Sources must be properly cited in papers as specified in class. I take this very seriously. The San José State University regulations governing plagiarism will be enforced.

Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbooks:

  • Morehead, J. (1999). Introduction to United States government information sources (6th ed.). Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1563087359 (paperback). arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -on the second attempt- you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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