LIBR 280-02
LIBR 280-11
History of Books and Libraries
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Todd Gilman
Office Location: Virtual
Phone: (203) 432-1761
Office Hours: M-F 9-5 EST

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
Course Schedule
About your Instructor
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

The access code for the Angel site will be sent to those enrolled in the class via the messaging system. The Angel site will open for self-enrollment on the January 21st.

Course Description

This class examines the role of the book and the library in expressing and fostering culture throughout history. It traces the development of the book through its many stages--cuneiform fragments, illuminated manuscripts, printed books, and electronic journals-and explores how the creation, use, and storage of information are affected by social and technological change. The development of libraries and librarianship and how they have accommodated themselves to the changing form of the book will also be considered.

Prerequisite: LIBR 200

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the course students will:

  1. understand the evolution of graphic communication symbols, and be able to identify alphabetic and ideographic systems in use in various parts of the world;
  2. be familiar with the material and practice of book production in various parts of the world from antiquity to the present;
  3. understand some of the external forces—social, economic, political, religious, and artistic—that have affected the content, appearance, and methods of publishing and distribution of books in several specific parts of the world;
  4. be able to identify and discuss major technical and artistic developments in typography, book design, and book production
  5. understand and be able to discuss the theoretical writing of many of the seminal figures in book history including Roland Barthes, Roger Chartier, Robert Darnton, Elizabeth Eisenstein, Michel Foucault, Wolfgang Iser, Jerome McGann, and Walter Ong.
  6. understand how and why libraries became established and how they have evolved in response to economic, social, and technological change;
  7. understand the social functions of the library and be able to explain how, why, and when library service evolved from a collection-centered to a client-centered institution;

LIBR 280 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use;
  • use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information.

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

  • contribute to the cultural, economic, educational, and social well-being of our communities.

Course Requirements

Contacting the Instructor
I shall have no specific online office hours, but shall be available to answer questions submitted either through the ANGEL course site, or directly to Please note that I am on Eastern Standard Time, and that you should expect to receive a reply to any questions within 48 hours of receipt. Any extended absences that might affect response time will be announced through the ANGEL course site.

Primary Requirements
Primary requirements consist of:

  • Successfully completing assignments related to objectives listed above.
  • Reading assignments must be completed each week.  Readings not in the course books are provided through ANGEL or are free on the Web.

Evaluation Criteria
I shall evaluate ALL written work according to the following criteria in addition to the specific requirements for each assignment:

  • Quality of the presentation-neat and error-free
  • Quality of the writing-clear, direct, and correct
  • Quality of the organization-smooth, logical flow and content
  • Quality and amount of reflection, analysis, and evaluation

Assignment Submissions
All papers must be typed, double spaced, with a font size of at least 12 points.  They must also conform to APA style.  You should own a copy of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th edition (2001).  For further information, see the SLIS APA Style Resources page. 

Late Assignments
Let the instructor know in advance if you will be unable to participate during a given week. Late assignments will be accepted up to five days past the deadline, with a penalty of 1 point (1% of course grade) per day. With an appropriate reason stated BEFORE the due date, students may be allowed additional time without penalty. I shall not accept any paper that is more than five days late.

Technical Requirements
You must have access to the following: Internet/World Wide Web access, Java-enabled Web browser, Microsoft Office (particularly Word and PowerPoint), and Adobe Acrobat Reader 5 .

You must be able to send and receive e-mail, including attachments. You should plan to check your e-mail and the ANGEL course site regularly for announcements.
For more detailed information, consult the SLIS home computing environment page.

This course is run via ANGEL. Stanley Laufer, the SLIS Network Administrator, has created a "ANGEL Tutorials and Resources for SLIS Instructors and Students" site. It is located at

Course enrolment dates are 21 - 27 January 2009

There are 100 possible points for this course, divided as follows:

Assignments Total Point Value
4 Article Reviews=5 points each x 4 20 points
4 Exercises [i.e., sets of 10 identification
questions each]=5 points each x 4
20 points
15 Threaded Discussions (1 or 2 due each week, based on that week's essay or essays assigned from The Book History Reader)=2 points each week x 15 30 points
2 Papers (the first is 1500 words; the
second, 3000 words)=10 points and 20 points
30 points

Specific requirements for each assignment, including due dates, will be posted in the course site via ANGEL.

Textbooks and Readings

Additional Readings
Additional course materials will be available through the Angel course site or free on the Web.

Course Texts
You do not need to own all of these—the combined cost is quite high—but you should have access to all of them via a library near you. If you want to own only one, The book history reader is probably the best choice.

NOTE:You will need to have the Avrin and Finkelstein & McCleery books in hand by the first day of class, so please make sure you can obtain easy access to them as soon as you read this Greensheet.

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Febvre. L. (1976). The coming of the book: The impact of printing 1450-1800. Trans. David Gerard. Verso. Available through Amazon: 1859841082. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Finkelstein, D., & McCleery, A. (2006). The Book History Reader (2nd ed.). Routledge. Available through Amazon: 0415359481. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Harris, M. H. (1999). History of libraries in the western world (4th ed.). Scarecrow Press. Available through Amazon: 0810837242. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Howard, N. (2005). The book: The life story of a technology. Greenwood Technographies. Available through Amazon: 031333028X. 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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