LIBR 231-01
Issues in Special Libraries and Information Centers
Spring 2009 Greensheet

J. David Midyette

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

Course Description

Special libraries are the most variable and exciting settings in which to do library work. The field is changing rapidly and librarians are adapting, shifting, transitioning, and shaping the future of the information industry in the corporate world. Special libraries range from large multi-librarian, multi-site consortia to one person libraries. Special librarians may find themselves as specialists on a specific topic or generalists who need to know a little bit about everything. In short, it is a great challenge for those seeking adventure!

In this course, we will explore the diversity of special libraries as well as the similarities common to all settings. We will look at how reference, cataloging, management, budgeting, space planning, subject specialty, copyright, contract negotiation, and all of the other aspects of this challenging area of librarianship come together to provide practitioners with an exciting and rewarding challenge.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 200 and LIBR 204

Course Objectives

  • This course will introduce the concept of special libraries/information centers and the variety of environments in which they are found
  • This course will explore the organization/operational issues associated with special libraries/information centers and other related types of information services
  • This course will analyze and evaluate issues and trends within the environment
  • This course will facilitate student understanding of networking and opportunities within the special library community

LIBR 231 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • Compare the environments and organizational settings in which library and information professionals practice
  • Recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use

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

  • Evaluate programs and services on specified criteria

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.


  • Fieldwork and Report or Paper or ILS Project (40 points possible)
    Each student will be expected to complete either a project at the fieldwork site, a research paper, or an ILS project.

    For the fieldwork, the student will negotiate the project content with the supervisor they are working with at the site as well as your instructor. Assistance is available for finding/selecting fieldwork opportunities. Fieldwork should be about 40 hours. Upon completion of the project, the student will prepare a written project review, including the following:
    • Purpose and scope of the project
    • Explanation of the approach to and design of the project, along with the rationale for the approach taken
    • Description of specific methods and techniques used and why
    • Discussion of any problems encountered and how they were handled
    • Summary of the results of the project and how the project will benefit the fieldwork site
    • Evaluation of what you learned/accomplished by doing the project
    This assignment will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
    • Completeness of the review
    • Organizational ability
    • Your site supervisor's feedback
    If you choose to write a paper, these are the requirements:
    • Choose a topic that pertains to Special Libraries. You must get your instructor’s approval of this topic
    • Your paper must be double-spaced, 20-25 pages
    • Include your bibliography of sources
    If you choose to do the ILS project, you will use the school’s EOS ILS.
    Requirements will be discussed in class.
  • Interview Paper on Issues (10 points possible)
    Interview a special librarian. Discuss the major issues of our field. Write a 1-2 page double spaced paper describing the interview. Post it to Blackboard for commentary by your peers.
  • Professional Event Papers (2 papers, 5 points each)
    Attend one to two professional event(s) during the course of the semester. Your assignment is to introduce yourself to at least one stranger. Write a one page, double-spaced summary of the event. Post it(them) to Blackboard for commentary by your peers.
  • Blackboard Discussions – Required (16 topics – 2.5 points each)
    There are 16 topics lined up for the semester that cover major topics related to special libraries. For each topic there will be a leading comment by the instructor, and you are expected to post a response to each. Your response will include a review of a topic from the required text book, or at least one article citation or relevant website to support your point(s). The purpose of these assignments is to provide you with an understanding of major themes, a beginning look at the literature, and a chance to put forth your own opinions.

The following is a breakdown of the assignments and the grading scale.
A full explanation of each assignment will appear on blackboard.

Assignment Possible Score
Fieldwork or ILS or research paper
Professional Event Papers
Interview paper
Blackboard discussions
Total Points

Tentative Course Schedule



1 So what ARE you worth?
2 Services: What are you going to do for your users?
3 Sources: So where are you going to get your information?
4 Contracts, Vendors, and Negotiation: You ain't seen nothing yet!
5 Copyright - UGH!
6 ILL and Document Delivery: Copyright Round 2?
7 Ethics: Who are you REALLY working for?
8 Budgeting - YIPPEE!
9 ILS, OPAC, OPEC, what next?
10 Policies and Procedures: Doing what you do . . .
11 Solos: Alone in the world?
12 Managing People, Yourself, and Time
13 Competetive Intelligence: They're doing what?
14 Evidence Based Librarianship: Embedding yourself in the entity
15 Professionalism: Associations, Certifications, and beyond!
16 Different modes: Transitions in your career

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:

  • Siess, J.A. (2006). The new OPL sourcebook: A guide for solo and small libraries. Information Today. Available through Amazon: 1573872415. 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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