LIBR 202-09
Information Retrieval
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Christinger Tomer
412-965-7123, 412-567-6485

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Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
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Learning Management System (LMS) Information: Liffey – the new Angel LMS at SLIS -- will be the primary medium for course-related content delivery and communication. In addition, the course will make regular use of the Live Office Hours capability included among Angel’s Communication Tools. Some materials will be delivered via a Website maintained for the course at

Course Description

Principles of information retrieval and their application to information systems and services. Emphasizing models of user information seeking behavior, human information processing and their relationship to retrieval models in information systems.

Course Prerequisites: Demonstrated computer literacy.

Course Objectives

LIBR 202 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • Design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems.
  • Understand the system of standards and methods used to control and create information structures and apply basic principles involved in the organization and representation of knowledge.
  • Describe the fundamental concepts of information-seeking behavior.

These additional SLIS Core Competencies are also supported by the course:

  • Use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation, and organization of specific items or collections of information;
  • 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;
  • Understand the system of standards and methods used to control and create information structures and apply basic principles involved in the organization and representation of knowledge;
  • Use service concepts, principles and techniques that facilitate information access, relevance, and accuracy for individuals or groups of users; and
  • 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.

The course is based on the view that in order to understand and master the basic concepts of information retrieval, it is also essential that students acquire a basic knowledge of information representation and organization. As a result, the course is divided into two parts. See below.

The course also assumes that today a basic understanding of systems for organizing and/or retrieving information necessarily entails knowledge of database systems. Toward that end, the participation in the course will involve the use of three database systems, CWIS, DB/TextWorks, and Koha.


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Course Requirements

Complete LIBR 203: Online Social Networking: Technology and Tools
This is a mandatory 1 unit course that introduces students to the various e-learning tools used in the SLIS program, including Angel, Elluminate and Second Life. This course must be completed by all new SLIS students within the first 4 weeks of their first semester. If you have questions about this course, e-mail Debbie Faires or Dale David.

For more information, see

There are a total of eight (8) assignments that must be completed successfully. Three of the assignments entail the preparation of analytical essays. The other assignments are concerned with database construction and metadata, and searching. The essays will account cumulatively for 25 percent of the final grade, and the database and searching assignments will account for 65 percent of the final grade. The balance of the grade will be determined by the level and quality of participation in the discussion boards. There are no examinations.

Each of the assignments must be submitted on the date specified, in the form specified, and in the place required, e.g., the Drop Box on Liffey, etc. Exceptions require the explicit permission of the instructor; otherwise, late submissions will not be accepted.

The essays should be analytical, as opposed to descriptive, and should incorporate, whenever and wherever appropriate, published sources other than those required for the course and/or specified as relevant to the assignment in question. (No specific citation format is required; however, a standard format, such as APA, MLA, Chicago, etc., should be used.)

Participation in the weekly discussions via the Discussion Board on Liffey is required. Synchronous sessions entailing the use of Live Office Hours are optional.

Course Calendar

Unit Week Topic
1 January 22-25 Introduction; Goals & Objectives

Organization of Information

2 January 26-February 1 Ontology: Concepts, Issues, and Applications 
3 February 2-8 Metadata
4 February 9-15 Structured Bibliographic Information: Formats & Standards
5 February 16-22 Bibliographic Organization: Basic Concepts and Schemes
6 February 23-March 1 Indexing & Abstracting
7 March 2-8 Bibliographic Systems & Utilities
8 March 9-15 Databases: Basic Concepts, Designs & Implementations in Bibliographic Settings
9 March 16-22 Database Exercises: Collection Building Using CWIS & Koha

Information Retrieval

10 March 23-29 Basic Concepts of Information Retrieval; Relevance, Recall, and Precision
11 March 30-April 5 Boolean Logic; Proximity Operations in Searching
12 April 6-12, 13-19 Development and Use of Search Protocols and Search Strategies
13 April 20-26 Information-Seeking Behavior: Relevance Feedback
14 April 27-May 3 Citation-Based Searching
15 May 4-10 Access to Web Resources; Spidering and Link Analysis; Web Searching

Textbooks and Readings


  • Robert Allen. Information: a Fundamental Construct. Drexel University, 2008. [Draft Manuscript]
  • Tony Gill, Anne J. Gilliland, and Mary S. Woodley. Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information. Edited by Murtha Baca. Online Edition, Version 2.1. Getty Trust, 2005.
  • Christopher Manning, et al. Introduction to Information Retrieval. Cambridge University Press, 2008. (A continuously revised version of the book is available for download: PDF for online viewing (with hyperlink features); and PDF for printing.)

Weekly reading assignments are indicated on Liffey. Additional readings and course materials will be mounted in designated folders.

Required Textbooks:

  • Meadow, C. H., Boyce, B. R., Kraft, D. H. & Barry, C. L. (2007). Text information retrieval systems (3rd ed.). Academic Press. Available through Amazon: 0123694124. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Weinberger, D. (2008). Everything is miscellaneous: the power of the new digital disorder. Holt Paperbacks. Available through Amazon: 0805088113. 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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