LIBR 231-10
Issues in Special Libraries
Spring 2008 Greensheet

Sue Brewsaugh
Phone: (714)229-7574
Office Hours: While I have no official office location or hours, I am readily available my phone or e-mail. If needed, we can set up a time to talk or meet. My preferred method of contact is e-mail at I will normally respond within 24 hours.

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Angel Information:  The course will be open by January 26.   

Course Description

This course describes the special library – what it is, what makes it different from academic or public libraries, and its trends and issues. We will explore the different kinds of special libraries and the advantages and disadvantages of working in this part of the field.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 200 and LIBR 204

Course Objectives

  • This course will introduce the concept of special libraries/information centers and the variety of environments in which they are found.
  • This course will explore the organization/operational issues associated with special libraries/information centers and other related types of information services.
  • This course will analyze and evaluate issues and trends within the environment.
  • This course will facilitate student understanding of networking and opportunities within the special library community.

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes

  • This course will allow students to determine if they want employment in a Special Library.
  • At the conclusion of this class, students will understand the major issues facing Special Librarians.
  • At the conclusion of this class, students will develop an understanding of the importance of professional networking

LIBR 231 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.

Course Requirements

With prior arrangement, students will have the opportunity to redo any work that does not receive full points.  All students must join SLA or another appropriate professional association.  The class assignments are listed below:

Fieldwork and Report or Paper; (total of 30 points possible). All reports must be posted to Angel.

Each student will be expected to complete either a project at the fieldwork site or a research paper.

For the fieldwork, the student will negotiate the project content with the supervisor they are working with at the site as well as your instructor. Assistance is available for finding/selecting fieldwork opportunities. Fieldwork should be about 30 hours. Upon completion of the project, the student will prepare a written project review. This assignment will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Purpose and scope of the project
  • Explanation of the approach to and design of the project, along with the rationale for the approach taken
  • Description of specific methods and techniques used and why
  • Discussion of any problems encountered and how they were handled
  • Summary of the results of the project and how the project will benefit the fieldwork site
  • Evaluation of what you learned/accomplished by doing the project
  • Completeness of the review
  • Organizational ability
  • Your site supervisor's feedback

If you choose to write a research paper, these are the requirements:

  • Choose a topic that pertains to Special Libraries. You must get your instructor’s approval of this topic.
  • Your paper must be double-spaced, 20-25 pages.
  • Include your bibliography of sources.
  • Suggested topics include valuing an information center, use of xml, taxonomies, knowledge management, social networking, content management, the role of the special librarian in the future.

Interview Paper (5 points possible)

  • Interview a special librarian. Discuss the major issues of our field. Write a 1-2 page paper describing the interview. Post them to Blackboard. These papers may be submitted to the local SLA newsletter for publication (with everyone’s permission, of course).

Professional Event Papers (10 points possible, 5 points each)

  • Attend  two professional events during the course of the semester. Your assignment is to introduce yourself to at least one stranger. Write a one page, double-spaced summary of the event. Post it to Angel. These papers may be submitted to the local SLA newsletter for publication (with everyone’s permission, of course).

Angel Discussion Papers (5 points each -55 points possible)

  • Ten different topics have been posted to the Angel discussion board.  For each topic read either the suggested readings or another source on the same topic .  Write a 1-2 page paper on the topic posted.  Include at least two additional sources per topic.  You will be graded on the content and style of your discussion paper. 
  • In order to receive full credit for the assignment, you must reply to at least two of your classmates' discussion papers.  Your replies must be substantive in nature - at least two paragraphs in length.
  • There are four exceptions to the requirement to reply to your classmates' papers: 
    • Week 1 - Feb 1, Getting Acquainted
    • Week 9 - April 5, Interviews
    • Week 14 - May 3, Professional Events Summaries
    • Week 15 - May 10, Final Paper (Fieldwork or Research Paper)

Course Calendar
This calendar is subject to change with fair notice.

Feb 1Getting acquainted (5 points possible)
Feb 8What is a Special Library? (5 points possible)
Feb 15Management (5 points possible)
Feb 22Marketing (5 points possible)
March 1Measurement (5 points possible)
March 8Reference (5 points possible)
March 15

The Collection (5 points possible)

March 22Knowledge Management (KM) (5 points possible)
April 5Interview due (5 points possible)
April 12Content (5 points possible)
April 19Library 2.0 (5 points possible)
April 26Risk Management (5 points possible)
May 3Professional Event summaries (10 points possible)
May 10Final paper - Fieldwork report or Research paper (30 points possible)

The following is a breakdown of the assignments and the grading scale. A full explanation of each assignment will appear on blackboard.

AssignmentPossible Points
Fieldwork or ILS or research paper30 points
Angel discussions on readings5 points each for a total of 55 points
Interview paper5 points
Professional Event papers10 points possible
Total points 100 points

Extra Credit
Extra credit options will not be available.

Late Work
Late work will only be accepted only with prior approval of instructor.

Textbooks and Readings 

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Matthews, J.R. (2002). The bottom line: Determining and communicating the value of the special library. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 159150048. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Mount, E., & Massoud, R. (1999). Special libraries and information centers: An introductory text (4th ed). Special Libraries Association. Available through Amazon: 0871115018. 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.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.