LIBR 282-04
LIBR 282-13
Seminar in Library Management (2 units)
Topic: Conflict Management for Information Professionals
Spring 2011 Greensheet

Scott R Brown
Skype: scbrown5
Office Location: Online (e-mail or Skype) or via phone
Office Hours: 

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Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
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ANGEL Information: We will be using ANGEL for this course. You can enroll for the course between December 6, 2010 through January 12, 2011. I will receive the access enrollment code from me via message through My.SJSU and/or via email.

Course Description

Course Overview
This course offers an approach for managing and resolving conflict in the information workplace. We will examine both interpersonal conflict with colleagues and conflict with customers/patrons. Students will learn about conflict management concepts, principles, strategies, techniques, and practical application.

Purpose of course
The purpose of the course is to provide information professionals with the concepts and tools of effective conflict management. Information professionals often face interpersonal conflict with colleagues in the workplace, as well as conflict with customers or patrons. The course is tailored to help information professionals effectively deal with the specific challenges of conflict in library and information settings.

Classroom information
We will be using Elluminate for all of our class meeting sessions. Most sessions will be recorded, but we will have two synchronous sessions, since the topic of conflict management implicitly involves real-time interaction. Go to our SLIS Elluminate home by going to the SLIS home page and clicking the "Elluminate" link in the upper left of the screen. Or, you can go directly to

Outline of course content:

  • What is conflict?
    • How conflict shows up in the library workplace
      • Conflict with colleagues
        • Supervisor/subordinate
        • Peer conflict
        • Departmental conflict
      • Conflict with customers/patrons
        • Material challenges/censorship
        • Privacy
        • Computer usage
        • The mentally ill
        • Age groups
        • Frustration/anger/hostility/threats
        • Social network/virtual service issues
      • Examples/case studies
  • The dynamics of conflict
    • Types of conflict
      • Tension or ”unspoken” conflict
      • Written
      • Spoken
      • Face-to-face
    • Elements of conflict
    • Escalation and de-escalation
    • What’s going on with us?
    • Why conflict is scary
    • The risk and opportunities of conflict
  • Understanding conflict resolution in the library and information workplace
    • Successful and unsuccessful conflict management
    • Communication
    • Negotiation, arbitration, mediation
    • Emotions
    • Assertive vs. aggressive
    • What does success look like?
  • Styles & tactics
    • Verbal and non-verbal
    • Written
    • Vocabulary
    • Active listening and questioning
    • Problem solving
  • Policy & practice
    • What role does policy play in conflict management?
  • More examples and practice
  • Debrief and reflection
  • Course Prerequisites: LIBR 200, 204 required.

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes

  • To understand the dynamics and motivational elements of conflict episodes
  • To understand and distinguish escalation and de-escalation behaviors, both verbal and non-verbal
  • To learn and be able to effectively apply several intervention strategies and techniques
  • To understand one's own behavior and motivational elements, and how these can be a contributing factor in the process and outcomes of conflict
  • To develop a sense of humor and perspective on our own conflicts

LIBR 282 (Conflict Management for Information Professionals) supports the following MLIS Core Competencies:

  1. recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use;
  2. apply the fundamental principles of planning, management and marketing/advocacy;
  3. use service concepts, principles and techniques that facilitate information access, relevance, and accuracy for individuals or groups of users;
  4. demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for group work, collaborations and professional level presentations; and
  5. contribute to the cultural, economic, educational and social well-being of our communities.

Course Requirements

Students are expected to attend the two synchronous Elluminate sessions, view recorded Elluminate sessions in a timely manner, actively participate in online class discussions and forums, complete reading assignments and submit assignments on due dates.

There are no “right” and “wrong” answers for the assignments; they will be evaluated instead on demonstrating your learnings, AND whether or not you actually followed the assignment details. Also, you will be graded on whether or not you seemed to have engaged in the spirit of the assignment – e.g., did you do the minimum necessary to complete it or did you bring reflection, personal introspection, and individual engagement to the assignment? Please keep in mind, however, that the purpose of the assignments is to help you deal with conflict in the information workplace more effectively.

Most of our sessions will be via recorded Elluminate sessions, with two “in-person” sessions that will require your attendance and participation. You will need to purchase a USB headset or microphone to participate in Elluminate sessions. Be sure you have had Elluminate training or have taken a tutorial. For more information, see the Student Guide at

Technology Requirements
You will need a current and fast internet connection like DSL, Cable, or FIOS, for the Elluminate sessions. Please see the home computing environment requirements at:

Grading and Assignments
Assignments will be graded according to the following point system:

Conflict log 20 pts
Conflict role play (2) 15 pts each
Conflict case study 30 pts
Reflection 10 pts
Participation 10 pts
Total 100 pts

More detail on the assignments will be given at the first class session.

  • Conflict log (20 points)
    Students will keep a weekly log of conflicts in their lives, whether at work, at home, or elsewhere, to become more aware of conflict situations, their own conflict reactions and conflict styles. Students should record the conflict (keeping confidentiality where appropriate), what happened, and reflections about the conflict based upon the student's learning.

    This is an informal log. Entries should be dated, and may be kept in any format the student chooses: a Microsoft Word document, an online blog, etc. The main requirement is that the log be made accessable to the instructor for review by the end of the course.

  • Conflict role-play (15 points each, 2 required)
    Students will participate in two role-play scenarios from a library setting: one written and one face-to-face. One scenario will be scripted as a subordinate/supervisor conflict, and one as a patron conflict. Students will role-play, and then report on their experience, and the resolution of the conflict. Reflection should include not only the “logistics” of the session, but also feelings and reactions. What went well? What could have been done differently?

    Students will also have an opportunity to do one “live” peer conflict role-play during a synchronous Elluminate session. This is a separate role play outside of the 2 required role-plays.

  • Conflict case study (30 points)
    Students will examine a specific library or information workplace conflict. Ideally, the conflict should be one in which they are (or were) directly involved. If that is not possible, the conflict can be one described in an example or article. (A selection of articles and examples will be made available to students.) What was the situation? How and where could you apply conflict management principles and techniques? How were conflict management principles applied? What would you have done? Students will report out to the class.

  • Brief reflection (10 points)
    Based on your own conflict log and your progress through the course, what have you learned about your own style of conflict resolution? How have you grown and changed? In what ways do you see that you can apply your new conflict resolution tools?

  • Participation (10 points)
    You will be expected to attend and view all Elluminate sessions, and participate in our synchronous online sessions, especially the "live" conflict role-play.

Course Calendar

Date Topic Notes, Assignments due by 11:59pm MT
1/26 Introduction, format, overview of course: What is conflict? Patron conflict, peer/manager conflict Reading: Rubin, Ch. 1 (including exercises)
2/2 The dynamics and elements of conflict: Understanding how conflict shows up and the elements of dealing with it

Synchronous Elluminate session

Reading: Rubin, Ch. 2 & 6 (including exercises)

2/9 Conflict resolution in the library and information workplace: situations

First conflict role-play report due

Reading: Rubin, Ch. 3 & 4 (including exercises)

2/16 Techniques I: Managing verbal and online conflict Reading: Rubin, Ch. 5 (including exercises)
2/23 Live role-plays: patron conflict, peer conflict, manager conflict Synchronous Elluminate session
3/2 Techniques II: In-person conflict, body language Second conflict role-play report due
3/9 Policy and escalation: Safety and working within your own and your organizational boundaries Reading: Rubin, Ch. 7
3/16 Report out and reflection Conflict logs, reflections, final case studies due

Late Assignments
Assignments that are up to one week late will only receive half credit. I will not accept any assignment more than 1 week late. Accommodations may be made in emergency cases when I am contacted in advance of the due date.

Textbooks and Readings

Chapter reading assignments are listed above. We will also have additional readings throughout the course, as assigned.

Required Textbooks:

  • Rubin, R. J. (2011). Defusing the angry patron: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians (2nd ed.). Neal-Schuman. Available from Amazon: 1555707319. 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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