LIBR 210-02
Reference and Information Services
Spring 2009 Greensheet

J. David Midyette
Office Location: Victorville, CA
Office Hours: 10am - 10pm PDT/PST

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

All students must self-enroll on Angel for this course with an access code provided by the instructor

Course Description

Reference work is where the rubber meets the road in library work. Information professionals are increasingly confronted with new demands for information based in new technology, new formats, and new needs. While print is still a crucial component of reference work, librarians and the people that they serve are increasingly in need of and demanding information from electronic resources. These shifting needs present a myriad of challenges to librarians both old and new in terms of their own understanding and integration of new ideas and skills.

In this course we will:

  1. look at how the reference interaction works;
  2. examine reference sources in multiple formats;
  3. develop skills in providing a range of reference services; and
  4. ponder the future of reference work within the library setting.

Prerequisite: LIBR 202

Course Objectives

Student Learning Objectives
At the end of this course, students will:

  • Have a developed understanding of the reference process
  • Understand the impact of cultural diversity in library reference work
  • Be able to meet the information needs of patrons in a variety of library settings
  • Acquaint themselves with core reference sources in multiple disciplines
  • Know where to find peer support
  • Be competent in the evaluation and usage of multiple information sources
  • Have an understanding of the impact of technology on reference interactions
  • Be familiar with issues and trends in reference services

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 Competencies:

  • 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;
  • Demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for group work, collaborations and professional level presentations;
  • Retrieve, evaluate and synthesize scholarly and professional literature for informed decision-making by specific client groups;

Course Requirements

Required Home Computing Environment
Please see the School’s “Home Computing Requirements” at

This course will be held entirely online through the Angel virtual classroom.

All students must self-enroll on Angel for this course with an access code provided by the instructor. Please see the Angel Tutorials on how to enroll in an Angel course at
To self-enroll in the Angel site for this course you must:

  • Be registered for the course FIRST.
  • The access code for this Angel course will be sent to those enrolled in the class via the MySJSU messaging system and you will be able to begin self-enrolling on January 19th . You must self-enroll before January 22nd.

It is important to pay attention to time management in order to complete an online course successfully. Although you can access the course materials online at any time, plan to set aside time each week to complete the readings and assignments. It is easy to get behind, so be organized, disciplined and self-motivated. Please check the site regularly for announcements, assignments, discussion board questions, etc.


  • Observations
    All reference interactions are different and vary according to type of library and patron need. It is crucial for your development as librarians to see how this variety impacts information need and the “success” of the reference interaction. You will observe three different reference interactions in different library settings and report your findings to your fellow students for evaluation and comment.
  • Exercises
    To give you a better understanding of the variety of reference sources that you might need as a practitioner, you will be performing several reference exercises designed to familiarize yourself with where you will be looking for information as a practitioner. These will be designed to balance success, frustration, challenge, and ease. They will help you understand the emotions that your patrons feel or will feel as they search for information to meet their needs.
  • Pathfinder
    These are crucial tools in all libraries and can be useful to everyone from the first-time library user to the seasoned bibliophile. Most people experience the unplanned need for information in their life, and a pathfinder can be a quick but helpful way to get them started. For this exercise, you will select either a topic that you are familiar with or a topic about which you know little to nothing. You will find resources and produce a quick start guide to launch patrons down the path to understanding that topic. Your pathfinder will include sources in different formats with brief descriptions of the source and why it will be beneficial.
  • Participation
    Since this class is entirely online, weekly discussions will form a good portion of your coursework. This is an excellent way to begin building networks, but also to provide helpful feedback to your peers. Posts and responses are expected to be substantive, and should further discussion and promote independent thinking. One component of this will be an online assignment where students will “lead the discussion.” For this exercise, you will be expected to post a substantive statement on a topic essential to reference work. Students will post their responses and work to generate a fuller understanding of the topic. This will be separate from the weekly postings and will be done over several weeks, but will be considered part of the participation grade.

Summary of assignments and their worth:

% of final grade
Class participation

Tentative Course Calendar

Week Topic Reading Exercises Observations Pathfinder
1 Introduction to Reference Work C&H Ch. 1      
2 Information Seeking and Processes C&H Ch.2      
3 Selecting and Evaluating Sources C&H Ch. 17   Obs. 1 due  
4 Bibliographic Organization and Control C&H Ch. 3 & 4      
5 Online Database Searching C&H Ch. 8 Ex. 1 due    
6 Internet Searching C&H Ch. 13      
7 Reader's Advisroy C&H Ch. 6 & 14      
8 Special Populations and Needs C&G Ch. 5 & 15   Obs. 2 due  
9 Instruction and Information Literacy C&H Ch. 7 & 16      
10 Managing Reference Departments C&G Ch. 11 & 18 Ex. 2 due    
11 Service Assessment and Improvement C&G Ch.10 & 19     Draft due
12 Ethics and Reference Work C&H Ch. 12      
13 Reference Trends C&H Ch. 9 & 20   Obs. 3 due  
14 Leading the Discussion I        
15 Leading the Discussion II   Ex. 3 due    
16 Summin' it up!     Final due  

Extra Credit
Extra credit options will not be available.

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

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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