LIBR 210-06
Reference and Information Services
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Dr. Paul M. Christensen
Phone: 360-297-2965
Office location: Virtual-Indianola, WA 
Office Hours: Mon-Thur after 7PM(PST)

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Students must self-enroll for this course on ANGEL during these dates: January 20-24.You will be required to use a password access code which I will provide using the MYSJSU Messaging system

Course Description

This course is designed to introduce you to the world of reference and information services. We will explore various methods and models of information service delivery, examine and evaluate key information sources of various types and formats, and discuss vital issues and emerging trends in reference and information delivery.

Topics will include:

  • The history of reference service
  • Information seeking behavior
  • The reference process (including the reference interview)
  • Evaluation of reference interactions
  • Information sources and their use (including effective search strategies)
  • Collection and evaluation of reference sources (both paper and electronic)
  • Reference service to diverse populations
  • The role of instruction in reference service
  • Reference ethics and reference policies
  • Trends in reference and information services

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 202 required.

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
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:

  • 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;
  • use service concepts, principles and techniques that facilitate information access, relevance, and accuracy for individuals or groups of users. 

Course Requirements

ANGEL will be used extensively in this course. The ANGEL site for this class will open for self-enrollment several days before the first day of class in the spring semester. I will provide you with a password access code using the MySJSU messaging system. Class discussions and activities will take place via ANGEL. It is crucial that you log in every few days during the semester to check the announcements.

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

Course Outline 
We will cover topics in four broad areas, interspersed throughout the semester:

  1. Information Sources & Resources-About Books, Serials, Everything, Words, People, Facts, Places.
  2. Searching Techniques & Concepts-Introduction  Basics, Controlled Vocabulary, Free Text & Features, Advanced Techniques.
  3. Skills & Techniques-Basics of IPL, Determining Information Needs.
  4. Issues-Guidelines/Customer Service/Ethics, The Future of Collections, Accuracy, Assessment & Evaluation.

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 Assignments and course schedule is subject to change given fair notice.

Course Calendar

Classes Begin January 22, 2009
Spring Recess March 23-27, 2009
Cesar Chavez Day March 31, 2009
Classes end May 13, 2009
  • Week 1, January 22-January 25
    Introduction to class and class objectives, Establish working groups, Getting to know you
  • Week 2, January 26-February 1
    Introduction to Reference Work, What are information services?
  • Week 3, February 2-February 8
    Information Seeking & Processes-Interview, Intake and what people really want
  • Week 4, February 9-February 15
    Selecting & Evaluating Sources
  • Week 5, February 16-February 22
    Bibliographic Organization & Control
  • Week 6, February 23-March 1
    Online Database Searching
  • Week 7, March 2-March 8
    Internet Searching
  • Week 8, March 9-March 15
    Reader's Advisory
  • Week 9, March 16-March 22
    Special Populations & Needs
  • Spring Recess-March 23-27
  • Week 10, March 30-April 5
    Instruction & Information Literacy
  • Week 11, April 6-April 12
    Managing Reference Departments
  • Week 12, April 13-April 19
    Service Assessment & Improvement
  • Week 13, April 20-April 26
    Ethics & Reference Work
  • Week 14, April 27-May 3
    Reference Trends
  • Week 15, May 4-May 10
    Future of Collections
  • Week 16, May 11-May 13
    Course Review


  1. Readings/Online Discussions
    Each week you will be assigned
    • an online ‘lecture or discussion notes’ provided by the instructor via Angel
    • readings from the textbook
    • other readings as assigned.
    Each week students will submit a posting to the discussion forum based on the lecture, the textbook reading assignment, and/or the other readings. Each student is expected to participate in the discussion. There will be a grade based upon the content (value or quality) and frequency of postings to the online discussions. Frequent postings of "Yeah" and "Way to go" will not earn many, if any, points. Conversely, a few substantiating contributions regarding bibliographic and other resources or help resolving a problem or other contributions will be well received by all and credited accordingly. Postings that always occur at the weekly deadline tend to be repetitions of classmates’ thoughts and ideas. Do not wait until the semester is winding down to make your mark in the online discussions.

    Student online discussion responses are:

    Due: Sunday 11:59pm of each week.
  2. Observation Assignment
    This assignment will give you the oportunity to observe real information service and see how it's actually done out there.

    There are two components to this assignment: See Angel for details
    • Professional Shadowing
    • The User Experience
    Due:February 16, 2009 @ 11:59pm 
  3. Digital Reference Assignment
    This assignment will give you practice and experience in answering reference inquiries in a digital environment, specifically the Internet Public Library (IPL). In preparation for this assignment please read chapter's 2 & 13 of the textbook.

    Due: March 29, 2009 @11:59pm
  4. Worlds Old and New-Group Assignment
    It's a cliché to say that the reference and information services world has changed radically over the last decade and a half, largely--but not exclusively--because of the rise of digital and networked information resources and communication technologies. Much of prior professional knowledge, especially information sources, has come into question, including how important or relevant "knowing sources" is in a Googlified world. This assignment is in two parts. You are to work in groups of 2-3. See Angel for details.

    Due: April 19, 2009 @ 11:59pm
  5. Reference Sources Exercises-Group Assignment
    Throughout the semester and before we discuss a category of sources (bibliographic, biographical, etc.), I will give you a list of a few good resources and perhaps a bad source for variety. I want you to become familiar with them by looking at them, using them to answer some questions, and so on. In addition, I'll ask you to identify other resources in that category. You will have seven sets of resources to become familiar with and answer some questions. This will be a group activity. You may form a group of no more than three students to complete the exercises. These exercises may take place simultaneously while the weekly discussion topics may cover other areas.

    Due: Various dates-Weeks 4,5,7,8,9,10,11 by Sunday @ 11:59 of the indicated weeks.
  6. Information Literacy/Pathfinder-Webliography
    You will need to prepare an information literacy presentation. For this assignment there are several components. They include the following: audio/visual, power point presentation,notes or guides for the presenter, outline of the presentation, supporting materials for participants including a bibliography and pathfinder/webliography on the specific subject and any user guides. This is meant as a final culminating project for the course. It should include a variety of new information and skills you have acquired to be used in a real life or simulated  instructional format.

    Due: May 13, 2009

 Assignment Points/Total

1. Readings/Online Discussions 30 pts
2. Observation/User Assignment 70 pts
3. Digital Reference Assignment  100 pts
4. Worlds Old & New 100 pts
5. Reference Sources Exercises 7sets x10 70 pts
6. Information Literacy-Pathfinder/Webliography 130 pts
Total 500 Points

In this class, exceptional work is defined as work that clearly displays one or more of the following criteria:

  • Originality in the approach to the assignment;
  • Greater depth of analysis than the written assignment calls for (particularly in comparing articles or viewpoints across the literature);
  • Critical evaluation of readings and discussions by comparing them to other authors or sources;
  • Overall treatment of the assignment above and beyond what the written assignment calls for; or
  • Superior organizational and/or written skills in the presentation of the material.

Your work will be evaluated according to four criteria; it should:

  • Be clearly written or presented
  • Display familiarity with the appropriate literature and/or bibliographic tools
  • Show insight into the concepts and/or issues in question
  • Demonstrate a degree of originality

Extra Credit
Extra credit options will not be available.

Late Assignments
Late assignments will not be accepted unless specific arrangements are made with the instructor at least 24 hours prior to their deadline and with the understanding that a lower grade may be given for late assignments.

Incompletes will be assigned ONLY in cases of medical or family emergency, where evidence of the emergency is provided. 

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

Recommended Textbooks:

  • 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.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.