LIBR 285-04
LIBR 285-13
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Joe Matthews
Phone: (760)930-9223
Office Hours:  You may reach the instructor anytime using e-mail or the telephone. I usually check my e-mail once a day.

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Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
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Students must self-enroll for this course on Angel. You will be required to use a password access code. The code will be provided to you via the MySJSU messaging system.

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to provide the student with an understanding of various research methods, and the strengths and limitations of each method. In particular, the course is designed to acquaint you with the broad range of tools than can be used to evaluate library services.

Course Objectives

The objectives of the course are:

  • Understanding 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
  • Evaluating programs and services on specified criteria
  • Demonstrating oral and written communication skills necessary for group work, collaborations and professional level presentations.

LIBR 285 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • 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.

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

  • evaluate programs and services on specified criteria.

The SLIS Core Competencies are found at

Course Requirements

Class Meetings
This is an online class that does not meet regularly. Thus each student is required to actively participate in threaded discussions on Angel. Team assignments are used.

Optional Elluminate meetings will be held on Wednesday nights from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm California time. The purpose of these Elluminate sessions is to allow the students to present their PowerPoint slides and discuss their project. These discussions will be recorded.  Regular viewing and posting of comments to the threaded discussions are critical. You should prepare a chapter summary or a thoughtful reflection on something you found interesting in a chapter and post it weekly. Posting your comments to the postings of others is also required. A posting of "I agree" does not qualify as a thoughtful comment. Reading/viewing/listening to required materials will enhance your ability to participate in these discussions. Check Angel regularly for updates.

Coursework Completion
All course work to be completed by May 8, 2009.

General Expectations
All students must:

  • have the minimal home computing environment as described at
  • Enroll in the course in Angel to receive communications from the instructor by the first day of the term.
  • Submit all assignments electronically. The following scheme is required for the files: [Student’s Last Name]_[Assignment Number]. Example: If the students last name is Smith use Smith_assignment1.doc. Failure to utilize this format results in point deductions.
  • Use a current virus protection program to scan all assignments before they are submitted electronically to Angel and to the instructor.
  • Submit assignments by the midnight of the due date. All assignments submitted after the due date will be subjected to a grade penalty.
  • Use the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth edition, as the official style manual for formats, citations, and bibliography.
  • Type or key coursework using Microsoft Word, double-spaced and in 12 point font.

Other Requirements
Students must have e-mail accounts and access to the Internet, including the ability to view the World Wide Web with a graphical browser (e.g., Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer) and PDF files. Students may access Angel from the SLIS Web site ( .

During the first week of class, each student will submit a brief biography that discusses your background, if and where you work, and why you are seeking to become a librarian.

Students will be assigned to a team during the first week of class. Each team will work together on all of the projects.

All projects will require a written paper plus a PowerPoint presentation. Each presentation will be posted for all students to download if you are so inclined. Project papers and presentations can be presented to the instructor at any time prior for a review and feedback (this review will not be graded).

Make sure that the type of library is clearly identified at the start of each presentation. Each presentation must include a literature review (a list of citations must be provided), an exploration of methods that could be used for the evaluation, why a particular method(s) was selected and the use of real data from a library, if at all possible, should be included in the analysis.

Each team will complete five projects from the "Evaluation of Services" section (project # 14 - Customer Satisfaction using Counting Opinions data is required for each team) and one project from the "Evaluation of the Library" section. The projects will be selected using a process that prevents duplicates until all projects have been selected and then duplicates can be chosen. Each team will select their projects and the instructor will ensure that duplicates are minimized.

Evaluation of Services

  1. Prepare a simply analysis of who you believe a specific library’s customers are without consulting any reports or statistics (if you don’t work in the library, interview two or more staff members for their perceptions). Now, using statistics and reports from the library’s automated system, prepare a presentation about the library’s customers. What segments of your potential customers do you currently serve? How often do they use the library? What proportion of your potential customers are actual customers, "lost customers," and non-customers (marketplace penetration analysis)? Now compare your beliefs with what the data has to say.
  2. Now, knowing who and where your customers are located, how will you determine what they want? What quantitative research methods might you employ? What qualitative research methods might you employ? For a public library, demographic information about your community is optionally available at
  3. Prepare a presentation to determine if a library’s customers who use electronic resources are different in some way from those who physically visit the library? How would you determine what problems these customers have in using the electronic resources? Identify the costs of providing electronic resources. What trends exist with regard to the amount of use of electronic resources? What demand for desktop access to electronic resources is likely to exist in the future? What are the implications for a library in the next five to ten years?
  4. Using statistics and reports from a library’s automated library system, prepare a presentation about the library’s collection. What is the overall turnover rate? Percent of circulation and turnover rates by type of materials, fiction versus non-fiction, call number range and so forth. Compare this information to the library’s holdings – for example, if DVDs account for 2% of the total collection, what is the percent of circulation for DVDs?
  5. Prepare a workflow diagram for circulation or technical services as it exists today in a library and then prepare an alternative arrangement of furniture and equipment that will simplify things. How many steps in the process before and after the proposed changes? Now carefully examine each of the steps or tasks performed and determine whether some may be safely eliminated or combined with other tasks.
  6. Your boss read an article in USA Today that stated that reference librarians are right about 55% of the time. Your boss wants to know if that is the case in your library. What does the literature have to say about this? How do you resolve the conflicting views found in the literature? How would you prepare an evaluation in your library to ascertain how accurate your reference librarians are? What would be an acceptable level of accuracy (and why)?
  7. The library board/your boss have received complaints that the library’s collection is old and useless. Prepare an analysis and a set of recommendations.
  8. Your boss is concerned about the library’s continuing expenditures for reference books when "everything is available on the Internet." Prepare an analysis of a library’s expenditures for reference materials and contrast it with expenditures for electronic resources. What trends are evident when looking at data for the last five years? What data would you need and how would you gather it to determine how much the reference collection is being used? Is the reference collection too large? Is your boss wrong?
  9. The state library has awarded your public library a grant to determine all possible outcomes associated with the library’s annual "summer reading program." Identify likely input, output and outcome measures and how you would collect the data to assess the magnitude of these measures.
  10. Assess the current state of readiness of the technology in your library. If your library has a technology plan, what is the state of implementation? Is the library’s technology current or is it getting a "bit long in the tooth?" Should "open source software" be seriously considered?
  11. The library has been requested to make a presentation assessing the existing facilities. Do some facilities need to be expanded and modernized? Do some facilities need to be replaced or closed? Are new branch facilities needed? What criteria should be used for this assessment?
  12. You are concerned that the costs of processing new materials are too high and that it takes too long for materials to be processed. How will you determine what the existing costs are and the time it takes to process materials? How do your costs and processing times compare to "peer" libraries (best practice libraries?)? Prepare an analysis to determine whether the library should outsource the processing of its new materials or re-organize technical services.
  13. The number of complaints that items are not on the shelves has increased dramatically during this past year. How would you determine what the current availability rate is and where are the items if they are not on the shelf?
  14. You are concerned about the quality of customer service provided by your library staff members. Your library selected a service from Counting Opinions and collected online survey data. Prepare an analysis of this data. Note: data from a client library of Counting Opinions will be made available to each team for analysis.
  15. The Mayor is concerned that while all the shelves are full of materials in the public library, people have difficulty seeing the top and bottom shelves and thus these materials are not being used. As such, this is a terrible waste of the library’s budget – to buy books and have them sit on the shelves. Prepare an analysis that determines the percent of circulation by shelf location.
  16. A City Councilman is outraged that the library is providing space for gaming by teens and providing access to "teen comic books." Prepare an analysis of the impacts of such services.
  17. A school or academic library wants to ensure that its students received instruction in the area of information literacy. In addition to discussing ways to deliver information literacy content, discuss ways to discover the impact of information literacy instruction in the lives of the students.
  18. Customers are complaining about the time it takes to get materials through interlibrary loan. What can be done to improve the service levels?
  19. Assess your library’s Web site. Examine the Web sites from at least 10 other "peer" libraries across the US. Give each site a score based on several criteria. Explain why you selected the criteria used for your analysis.
  20. Consider your library’s online catalog. If your system is more difficult to search and less effective than (and whose isn’t?), then you have work to do. How would you involve users in asking what they want? How would you identify what they actually do now? What new features would you really would like from your system’s vendor?
  21. The library’s online catalog reflects the fact that something has been ordered. However, complaints are being received that indicate that it takes months before items are received and placed on the shelves of the library. What are the current service levels and what can be done to make improvements?
  22. Customers and staff are complaining about the number of typos in the library’s online catalog. Prepare an analysis of the problem.
  23. Your public library is considering merchandising its collection. Your boss has asked you to prepare a presentation that identifies "best practices."
  24. An evaluation of other services may be submitted by a team and approved by the instructor. Prepare an analysis and a presentation.

Evaluation of the Library

  1. How would you determine if your library is a "good" library? How do you select \"peer libraries\" so that you can compare and contrast your library with your peers? What are the issues surrounding selecting "peer libraries" from out-of-state?
  2. Prepare a presentation about a library of your choice using statistics from a national/state/province resource or directory. The audiences for this presentation are the funding decision makers for your library. You are trying to get these stakeholders to approve a more than 15% increase in your budget. What performance measures would you like to use that are not found in the directory?
  3. After reviewing Robert Taylor’s book, Value-Added Processes in Information Systems, prepare a presentation that discusses the ways in which a library adds value for its customers. What new ways could a library add value by changing existing services or introducing new services?
  4. Prepare a presentation for the library board/your boss about the economic benefits of a library. What options are available to determine economic benefits? How would you prepare a cost-benefit analysis for your library?
  5. Prepare an analysis of the library’s existing services and how much they are used. Identify the costs to provide each service. Identify the cost-effectiveness of all services and place them in rank order. Note: this project requires access to a library's budget and you will prepare a Activity-based Costing analysis.  Prepare a presentation of your analysis.

Each individual student will prepare a brief assessment of what you have learned as a result of this class. You should also reflect on each team member’s contributions and the willingness of each individual to work together as a team.

Due: On or before May 8, 2009.

Jan 26
Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 1-2
Feb 2
Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 3-4
Feb 9
Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 5
Feb 16
Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 6
Team project # 1 due
Feb 23
Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 15
Mar 2
Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 16 & 17
Team project # 2 due
Mar 9
Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 18, 19 & 20
Mar 16
Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 7
Team project # 3 due
Project 4 presentations
Mar 23
Spring break 
Mar 30

Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 8

Team project # 4 due

April 6
Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 9
April 13

Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 10

Team project # 5 due

April 20
Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 11-12
April 27

Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 13

Team project # 6 due

May 4

Read Evaluation & Measurement, Ch. 14

Individual assessment due

Assignments should be sent directly to the instructor via email as an attachment. 

Grading Policy
Students who complete the assignments and regularly use Angel class site will receive the B provided the quality of written work meets the standard of rigorous scholarly work for the University. Above standard work is defined as clearly displaying one of more of the following criteria:

  • Originality in the approach to the assignment
  • Greater depth of analysis that the written assignment expects
  • Critical evaluation readings by comparing them to other authors or sources
  • Ability to organize information for themselves and others plus create tools for life long learning and knowledge retrieval

Note that:

  • Errors in spelling, grammar and syntax will be subject to a grade penalty.
  • Evidence of plagiarism will result in a grade of F for the course.

The total number of points for the class is 500. 50 points each for the six projects – reports and presentations (a total of 300 points), 100 points for class participation (using Angel Threaded Discussions), and 100 points for your contribution to the team as judged by your teammates.

Points for the projects will be awarded using the following rubric:

  Standard Work Above Standard Excellent Work
Organization Straight-forward approach Material is well organized Organization of material flows well and the writing is easily moves from one point to the next
Evaluation of the literature 3-4 articles (books) are used
No clear reason selection criteria
5-7 articles (books) are included
Some selection criteria are used
A large amount of research is identified and synthesized
Reasons for inclusion of the literature are explained
Depth of analysis No indication of an analysis Some analysis of the project Analysis clearly reflects considerable thoughtful reflection of the project
Exploration of research methods Identify & discuss 1-2 research methods
Selection of a research method is not discussed
Identify & discuss 3-4 research methods
Selection of 2-3 research methods
Identify & discuss all known research methods
Clearly articulated reasons why one or more research methods are selected for a specific library
Originality Straight-forward approach to the project   Clear evidence of originality in terms of study design, and presentation of data

Textbooks and Readings


Required Textbooks:

  • Matthews, J. R. (2007). The Evaluation and Measurement of Library Services. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591585325. 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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