LIBR 210-05
Reference and Information Services
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Dr. Linda L. Lillard
Other contact information:Phone: 785-221-8060 (Eastern Time) Please call between 7 am and 9 pm Eastern Time.
Office location:
Clarion, Pennsylvania and online
Office Hours: Virtual via e-mail, telephone, discussion board, and Elluminate sessions, also by appointment. I will respond to messages within 24 hours and notify you in advance when I will be unavailable. Informal Elluminate session office hours will be scheduled as needed. Elluminate meeting times will be given in course announcements at least one week in advance and participation is voluntary unless otherwise agreed upon.

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Textbooks and Readings | Course Requirements

ANGEL information: Students must self-enroll for this course on ANGEL prior to the first day of classes. Class begins on January 22 and a message with the access code will be sent to you via my.sjsu after January 12, 2008

Course Description

This course provides an overview of information services provided in a variety of settings. The focus is on human intermediation in libraries (both physical and digital) and in other information service environments, mainly covering the methods and models of information service delivery, fundamental tools and resources in selecting and searching information, information evaluation and emerging issues and standards pertinent to information access and service. 

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 202 required.

Major Themes:

  • The evolution of reference and information service
  • The reference process in various venues
  • Information sources in multiple formats
  • Search tools and search strategies
  • Evaluation of reference interactions
  • Evaluation and management of information resources
  • Library instruction
  • Delivery of reference and information service to diverse populations
  • Ethics and policies of reference and information services

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand the basic principles and techniques used in the provision of reference and information services
  • Be able to conduct an effective reference interview to interpret users’ information needs
  • Have a working knowledge of general information resources and search tools in various disciplines
  • Be able to quickly identify and select information resources, effectively locate relevant information, and provide clear instructions (if necessary) in the fulfillment of users’ information needs
  • Comprehend the skills to critically and thoroughly evaluate information
  • Be able to create documents for indirect reference.
  • Develop a strong sense of the broader context of reference and information service, in particular the customer service mentality, professional concerns of ethics, and equal representation and service
  • Be aware of the emerging issues concerning reference and information service

LIBR 210 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • use service concepts, principles and techniques that facilitate information access, relevance, and accuracy for individuals or groups of users.

In addition, this section supports the following SLIS core competency:

  • 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. 

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Course Requirements

Mode of Instruction
This course will use Angel for accessing course materials, online discussions, and submission of assignments. Students are expected to access the course site and participate in discussions on a regular basis.

In addition, I will periodically hold synchronous office hours via Elluminate (TBA but not in January). These office hours will be used for discussion, additional instruction on online searching and using specific reference tools, and practicing the reference interview. Attendance is optional, but encouraged.

For due dates and detailed requirements for each of the assignments, please see the course site in Angel.  Readings will be assigned in the textbooks as will supplemental journal readings.  The schedule for all of the projects, readings and access information will be found in the course website. 

  • Reference Interview Analysis (200 pts)
    This assignment requires you to be a library patron – you will ask questions of three different reference librarians and then analyze the service you receive.
  • Online Searching (100 pts)
    Early in the semester, we will learn search techniques for online resources. This assignment can be completed using the online databases offered by the SJSU King Library and will give you experience using your searching techniques and practice improving your searching skills.
  • Sources Exercises and Wiki (300 pts – 3 at 100 each)
    You will learn about the different categories of reference tools – such as encyclopedias, indexes, or dictionaries – by reading about them and then attempting to answer sample reference questions. Even though you are only required to submit three sets of exercises, you should work on the exercises on all of the Sources in order to learn the content and organization of various reference tools. Additionally, we will have a class wiki on which all members of the class will contribute information regarding their examination of certain reference sources. Please see more detailed information about these exercises in Angel.

    *You will need to have access to a print reference collection (a large public or an academic library) in order to complete these exercises. Online sources may be used, but you must complete some of the exercises using print resources because you need to know how to use print resources.
  • Final Sources (100 pts)
    Your final source exercise will require you to analyze reference questions and select the best sources to answer these questions. There is not a single right answer or correct source to use for this project.  In addition, you will also evaluate each source that you use.
  • Subject-Specific Reference Sources Pathfinder (150 pts)
    This is a group assignment. The class will be divided into several groups and each group is responsible for creating a pathfinder of reference resources in a specific subject area.  This is the final project of this class, in place of a final exam. Your group must agree on a topic of interest and create a pathfinder as a tool to help users easily locate information about the selected topic.
  • Participation (150 pts)
    Everyone is expected to participate in course discussions. Participating in the class is part of the learning experience, as the discussions and activities are designed to help you understand and master the course content. In addition, the diversity of experiences you all bring to the course is what makes our discussions interesting – so we need to hear everyone’s voice!

    I expect everyone to contribute at least three meaningful posts each week. Your post might be: a response to the reading(s) and/or “lecture” material, based on your own experience; a response to a peer’s post, based on your own understanding or experiences; or a response to my questions. There might also be specific readings and participation exercises assigned to you individually which mirrors "being called upon" in class.  Meaningful means that your post has some real content rather than simply saying you agree with what somebody else has said, etc. 

Late Work
Assignments are due by midnight of the day that they are due. I expect all work to be turned in on time or an email with a reasonable explanation as to why your assignment is late and when you plan to complete it. If you do not email me, I reserve the right to deduct 10 points for every day an assignment is late.

Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbooks:

  • Cassell, K. A., & Hiremath, U. (2006). Reference and information services in the 21st century: An introduction. Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555705634. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Ross, C., Nilsen, K., & Dewdney, P. (2002). Conducting the reference interview: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555704328. 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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