LIBR 210-01
Reference and Information Services
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Lili Luo
Office Hours: Fridays 5 - 6 pm via Elluminate

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
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The ANGEL site for this class will open for self-enrollment on January 17. In order to enroll in the ANGEL course site, you will need a password access code. The instructor will provide the access code to registered students via the MySJSU messaging system. You should be enrolled by January 25.

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

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

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 competency:

  • 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.

Course Requirements

Course Format
This class is taught in the hybrid mode. Class will meet in Clark Hall 304 from 10am to 4pm on February 7, 8 and May 9. The rest of the course delivery will be conducted online through Blackboard.

The ANGEL site for this class will open for self-enrollment on January 17. In order to enroll in the ANGEL course site, you will need a password access code. The instructor will provide the access code to registered students via the MySJSU messaging system. You should be enrolled by January 25.

Student Responsibilities

  • As a student, you are expected to read and carefully consider all the readings, participate fully in all activities and discussions during the class duration, as well as turning in assignments by the designated time.
  • Due dates are not negotiable. If the instructor needs to change a due date, you will be notified as soon as possible. Because due dates are not negotiable, procrastination should be avoided. If you employ procrastination as a time management tool, this can limit your time in dealing with unexpected problems. The instructor has the right not to accept late assignments or to add significant grade penalties. If you foresee any difficulty in completing your assignment on time, you need to contact the instructor at least 36 hours before the due date to request extension. In addition, as the instructor schedules grading time for assignments, students turning in late assignments may receive their assessment much later than the rest of the class.
  • If you do not understand assignments, readings, etc., it is your responsibility to inform the instructor. If you are having difficulty, please contact me early so that we can resolve problems before your final grade is unchangeable. You may also ask for help from your classmates through the various discussion methods in Blackboard. You must complete all assignments to pass the course.


  • Reference source exercises (40%)
    Knowledge of reference resources and skills in effectively searching and evaluating them are one of the core competencies of reference work. Thus, you will complete a series of exercises to practice your skills in selecting, searching and evaluating reference and information resources discussed in class.
  • Reference service evaluation exercises (10%)
    Evaluating reference and information services from the user’s perspective gives you a more complete view on reference service provision. You will participate as a user in three reference transactions via different media (face-to-face, email and chat), and submit a report evaluating your experiences.
  • Reference desk shadowing exercise (10%)
    Observing the activities at a reference desk helps you better understand the nature of reference work. You will spend a few hours shadowing an on-duty reference librarian at a reference desk of your choice, and submit a report recording the shadowing experience and reflecting upon it.
  • Subject-specific reference sources presentation (15%)
    This is a group assignment. The class will be split into several groups and each group is responsible for delivering a presentation on reference resources in a specific subject area. This assignment will further your knowledge of reference sources as well as practice your instructional skills.
  • Pathfinder (15%)
    Creating a resource pathfinder on a certain topic is the final project of this class, in place of the final exam. It is a comprehensive assignment where a variety of important reference skills are involved, including the analysis of users’ information needs, identification and evaluation of relevant resources, and organization and presentation of retrieved information, etc. For this assignment, you will select a topic of your interest and create a pathfinder as an indirect reference tool to help users easily locate information about the selected topic.
  • Engagement and participation (10%)
    Engagement and participation in class will reflect: 1) your individual responses to course content and questions posted by the instructor; 2) your responses to your colleagues’ postings; and 3) your involvement in discussion threads throughout the semester. Part of the graduate education experience is to help you learn how to present information with support, and not simply say “Well, I think that….” This also applies to agreeing with someone; the statement “I agree” should be presented with support.

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

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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