LIBR 210-10
Reference and Information Services
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Melissa Wong
Phone: 310-831-0233 (Pacific Time)
Office Hours:
virtual via e-mail and by appointment

I encourage you to email me at any time with a question or issue. You are welcome to call me at home between 9 am and 9 pm Pacific Time. If you are having trouble reaching me, please feel free to email me to arrange an appointment for us to talk on the phone or online.

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

I will send the access code for the Angel site via the MySJSU messaging system to those enrolled in the course on Thursday, January 15. Please enroll in the course no later than Wednesday, January 21.

Course Description

This course will provide you with an introduction to reference work. Throughout the semester we will be focusing on two major themes: what reference tools exist and when to use them (the “practical” aspect of the course) and traditional and current issues in reference work (the “theoretical” aspect of the course).

We will spend about half our time learning the basic types of reference tools (print and electronic) by examining and using representative titles. Each week we will study a different category of tools–such as encyclopedias, indexes, or dictionaries–by reading about them and then attempting to answer sample reference questions. The sample reference questions are designed to familiarize you with specific titles and their unique features. You’ll need to choose some of these questions to turn in for grading, but I encourage you to work on as many as possible. Reading about sources isn’t the same as using them, and in fact, most librarians find they remember key sources by appearance and location, not title.

We will spend the other half of our time reading about and discussing traditional and current issues in reference work. We will look at topics such as organizing and managing reference operations, evaluation of services, and professional ethics. We will also look at relatively recent issues, such as the cost of electronic resources, how to provide service in an increasingly digital environment, and the shape of reference services in the future.

I believe, and research supports me, that students learn best through active engagement with the course materials. In addition to weekly readings from the textbooks and professional literature, this course will feature weekly "lectures" - a combination of text, multimedia and activities - that will provide further information on the week's topic and engage you in thinking about and working with the course materials. We will use the discussion boards as a space for class conversations and I will offer weekly Elluminate sessions to provide interactive instruction on online searching and the reference interview. Although the Elluminate sessions are optional, I strongly encourage you to attend, not only to receive that week's content, but because the interactive nature of Elluminate will help you stay connected to me, your peers and the course materials (Elluminate sessions will be recorded, so if you are not able to attend in real time, you can listen to the content later).

Catalog Description
A process-oriented examination of how information professionals answer reference questions. The interpersonal skills required for effective question negotiation and the sources with which questions are answered are stressed.

Course Prerequisite: LIBR 202

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • know the basic types of reference tools,
  • recognize major print and electronic reference titles,
  • be able to construct basic search strategies for print and electronic sources,
  • be able to conduct an effective reference interview, and
  • be familiar with issues and current trends in reference services

in order to provide general reference service in a variety of library settings.

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 competencies:

  • design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems
  • 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

Mode of instruction
This course will use Angel for accessing course materials, online discussions, and submission of assignments. Students are expected to access the course site, read/work through all course materials and participate in discussions on a regular and timely basis.

In addition, I will hold a synchronous lesson via Elluminate (these will be in the evening on various days of the week). Attendance is optional, but encouraged – please join me!

For due dates, detailed requirements and grading rubrics for each of the assignments, please see the course site in Angel.

  • Reference Interview Analysis (100 pts)
    This assignment requires you to be a library patron – you will ask questions of a reference librarian and then analyze the service you receive.
  • Online Searching (100 pts)
    Early in the semester, we will learn search techniques for online resources. This assignment – ten questions that can be answered using the online databases offered by the SJSU King Library – will let you practice those techniques in order to improve your searching skills.
  • Sources (300 pts – 3 at 100 each)
    Each week we will study a different category of tools – such as encyclopedias, indexes, or dictionaries – by reading about them and then attempting to answer sample reference questions. The sample reference questions are designed to familiarize you with specific titles and their unique features. You are encouraged to work on all of the Sources exercises in order to learn the content and organization of various reference tools. You must submit three sources exercises for grading.
  • Final Sources (50 pts)
    This is a culminating sources exercise that requires you to analyze a reference question and select the best source(s) to answer it. Unlike the previous sources exercises, there is not a single "right" answer or a single "right" source to use (hence, these questions are closer to real-life reference questions). The questions require you to think about what kind of information is needed, select an appropriate source or sources, formulate a search strategy, and analyze what you find (and possibly keep searching).
  • Learning Reflection (50 pts)
    This final essay requires you to reflect on what you have learned this semester. 
  • Participation (100 pts)
    Everyone is expected to participate vigorously in course discussions. Participating in the class is part of the learning experience, as the discussions and activities are designed to help you understand and master the course content. In addition, the diversity of experiences you all bring to the course is what makes our discussions interesting – so we need to hear everyone’s voice! 

Late Work
Assignments are due by the end of the day that they are due. I expect all work to be turned in on time or an email with a reasonable explanation as to why your assignment is late and when you plan to complete it. If you do not email me, I reserve the right to deduct 10% for every day an assignment is late. I also reserve the right to give individuals firm deadlines by which any late work must be turned in.

The exception to this policy is Sources assignments, which MUST be turned in on time – I post the answers shortly after the due date, so I need these assignments submitted to me in a timely manner.

Textbooks and Readings

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Bopp, R. E., & Smith, L. C. (2001). Reference and information services: An introduction. (3rd ed.). Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1563086247. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Ross, C., Nilsen, K., & Dewdney, P. (2002). Conducting the reference interview: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555704328. 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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