LIBR 210-12
Reference and Information Services
Summer 2011 Greensheet

Dr. Johanna Tunon
E-mail -- For class-related communications, use the D2L course e-mail.
Home phone: (954) 792-6814 
Office location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Office hours: By appointment by phone or via Elluminate. NOTE: I live in Florida so I am on Eastern Daylight time. You are welcome to call before 10 pm Eastern Daylight time.

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
iSchool eBookstore

This course will be available on D2L on Wednesday, June 1. You will be enrolled into the site automatically. I will send more information about course access as we approach this date through MySJSU.

Course Description

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.

Full Description: This course provides an overview of reference and information services. We will be examining and evaluating key information sources in a variety of formats and becoming familiar with professional resources. Because the field of librarianship is changing rapidly, we will be exploring various methods and models for delivering information and examining how emerging trends and ways to use new ideas and skills may impact the future of reference services and access to information.

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;
  • Use basic reference tools and search techniques to answer a wide range of questions;
  • Conduct an effective reference interview;
  • Make the connection between user needs, information resources, and the relevant information technology;
  • Assess the quality and usefulness of reference sources;
  • Evaluate reference services that address the needs of today’s dynamic and cultural diverse society;
  • Understand the relationship between reference service and information literacy instruction;
  • Be familiar with current issues and trends in reference service;
  • Begin to develop a personal philosophy of reference service.

LIBR 210 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • 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:

  • Retrieve, evaluate, and synthesize scholarly and professional literature for informed decision-making by specific client groups;
  • 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;
  • Evaluate programs and services on specified criteria.

Course Requirements

  • Assignment 1
    Mini exercises 24% (3% X 8 weeks)
    (E2, E3, E4, E5, E6, E7, E8, E10)
  • Assignment 2
    Reference desk library and online visits/activties 27% 
     (Part of weekly discussion topics for Wks 2-10)
    R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R7, R8, R9, R10 X 3%)
  • Assignment 3
    LibGuide/pathfinder/subject guide 15%
    (Due Week 7)  (A3)
  • Assignment 4
    Reference desk shadowing (15%) Due Wk 8. (A4) 
    ** Alternative option 
    - If you cannot complete the shadowing activity for whatever reason, then you can do a prerecorded presentation.
  • Assignment 5
    Reference bibliography = 15% 
    Due Wk 9. (A5)
  • Participation/ 2 Citations -- 4%
  • SOTES -- extra credit (0.5%)

    NOTE: The description of class assignments and grading critieria are included after the class schedule.

Course Calendar

Week   Overview of Class Activities and Assignments Due Dates 
Wk 1

• Post introductions
• Read: Week 1 Overview in D2L, and Chapters 1, 4, 13 (Cassell and Hiremath)
• Video lectures:
     - Video on reference interviews
     - Chapter 1 - Introduction to Reference Services
     - Chapter 4 - Bibliographies
     - Chapter 13 - Internet Resources
     - Video on APA formatting of journal citations
     - Video on reference interviews --
      You may need to install RealPlayer.
      Username: reference Password: askme1

June 12
Wk 2

• Read:  Overview for Week 2 and Chapters 2, 5, 16 (Cassell & Hiremath) 
• Video lectures: 
   - Ch 2 -- Reference Questions
   - Ch. 5 -- Encyclopedias
   - Ch. 16 -- Information Literacy
   - Library Training, BI (Bibliographic Instruction), and Information Literacy video:
   - APA Formatting for Article Citations Video
R2 Week 2 discussion topic - 3%
E2 mini actiity-- 3%
Elluminate: Discussion of the expectations for the course and how to navigate around in the class. Time for questions and answers (June 13 – Monday, 10 pm PT)
If you cannot attend, you can view the archived session later.

June 19*
Wk 3

• Read Overview for Week 3 and Chapters 3 & 6 (Cassell & Hiremath)
• Video lectures:
   - Ch. 3 -- Answering Reference Questions
   - Ch. 6 -- Ready Reference Resources
R3 Week 3 discussion topic -- 3%
E3 mini activity-- 3%

June 26*
Wk 4

• Read Overview for Week 4 and Chapters 7-8 (Cassell & Hiremath)
• Video lectures:
   - Ch. 7 -- Dictionaries
   - Ch. 8 -- Full Text Databases
• Video on formatting text citations using APA formatting
R4 Week 4 discussion topic - 3%
E4 mini activity -- 3%

July 3*
Wk 5

• Read Overview for Week 5, Chapters 9 & 10 (Cassell & Hiremath), 
  and Best Chat Transactions
• Video lectures:
   - Ch. 9 -- Law, Business, and Healthcare Resources
   - Ch. 10 -- Geography Resources
R5 Week 5 discussion topic -- 3%
• E5 mini activity -- 3%

July 10*
Wk 6

• Read Overview for Week 6 and Chapters 11, 12, 20 (Cassell & Hiremath)
• Video lectures:
   - Ch. 11 -- Government Resources
   - Ch. 12 -- Biography Resources
   - Ch. 20 -- Reference 2.0
R6 Week 6 discussion topic -- 3%
E6 mini activity -- 3%

July 17*
Wk 7

• Read Overview for Week 6 and Chapters 14-15 (Cassell & Hiremath)
• Video lectures:
   - Ch. 14 -- Reader's Advisory Sources
   - Ch. 15 -- Child and Young Adult Resources
R7 Week 7 discussion topic  -- 3%
• E7 mini activity -- 3%
Assignment 3 (LibGuide/pathfinder/subject guide) -- 15%  Due July 24

July 24*
Wk 8

• Read Overview for Week 8 and Chapters 17-19 (Cassell & Hiremath)
• Video lectures:
   - Ch. 17 - Selecting and Evaluating Reference Sources
   - Ch. 18 - Managing Reference Departments
   - Ch. 19 - Assessment and Evaluation of Reference Services
R8 Week 8 discussion topic -- 3%
E8 mini activity -- 3%
Assignment 4 (Shadowing or prerecorded presentation) -- 15% 
Due July 31

July 31*
Wk 9

• Read Overview for Week 9 and Chapters 21 (Cassell & Hiremath)
• Video lectures:
   - Ch. 21 -- The Future of Reference Services
• R9 Week 9 discussion topic - 3%
Assignment 5  (bibliography) = 15%   Due Aug. 7th.

Aug. 7*
 Wk 10

• Wrapping up -- Overview for Week 10
• E10 mini exercise -- 3%
• R10 Week 10 Discussion Forum -- 3%
• Dropbox -- Participation / 2 citations = 4%

• Course ends: All work much be submitted by the end of Aug. 12th.

Aug. 12

*These due dates are subject to change with fair notice. 

Description of Assignments and Grading Criteria
OTE: If you have some special circumstance that makes completion of some activities difficult, contact me about possible alternative activities.

  • Assignment 1: Mini Exercises 24% (3% X 8 weeks) E2 - E8, E10 
    In eight out of the ten weeks of class, there will be mini exercises that will have you actually look for appropriate sources to information quest questions or examine specific types of resources or some kind of activity. Post the mini exercises in the dropboxs provided. The activities will be graded using the following criteria:

    Grading criteria:
    • (1) Correct responses were identified and (2) the source listed. If the answer for a question was not located, the student demonstrated due diligence by providing at least five appropriate authoritative sources that were checked for the answer. Correct grammar was used.
    • Appropriate sources -- A variety of print and appropriate electronic reference resources were used to completely answer information requests. Only authoritative Web reference resources were utilized.
    • If there is some other type of activity, it will be graded based on content, creativity, and attention to detail.  
  • Assignment 2: Reference desk library and online visits/activities 
    (R2 - R10  X 3%) = 27%

    Each week's posting will be graded on:
    • Address the questions asked for the designated week.
    • Participate in on-going discussion for at least half of the discussion topics.
    • Used appropriate grammar and communicated in a professional manner.
    • Apply what you have learned in the textbook readings to the topics under discussion.  Demonstrate your grasp of the content in the textbook with text citations, and use at least two additional scholarly sources at some point in the discussions for R2 - R10
  • Assignment 3:  LibGuide/Pathfinder/Subject Guide (15%)
    I would encourage you to use LibGuides or some other web technology to develop a pathfinder on a topic useful for helping library patrons find relevant resources on a topic of interest. The subject guide or pathfinder can be organized as a web subject guide or using something like a LibGuides template. You can take a look at examples of some other LIBR 210 pathfinders at

    Grading Criteria:
    • Provides clear information about the scope of the tool.
    • Addresses the identified information need.
    • Provides appropriate subject headings, call numbers, names, and URLs for websites as appropriate.
    • Attractive, well laid out, and appropriate for the age and ability level of the intended user(s).
    • Identifies a variety of appropriate resources for the information need.
    • Organizes the information in a clear and concise manner.
    • Uses correct grammar and writing mechanics.
  • Assignment 4: Reference Desk Shadowing (15%)
    Write a summary of and conclusions about your experience shadowing a reference librarian for two hours at the reference desk. Use the grading criteria when writing about your summary of the experience and your conclusions.
    Put yourself in the position of the Head of Reference that the library you visited and write this paper as an appraisal of the reference services provided that are grounded on what you saw during your shadowing experience. Use the grading criteria when writing about your appraisal of the experience and your conclusions.

    Grading Criteria:
    • A clear and robust summary or appraisal of the reference desk shadowing experience is provided.
    • The discussion of the experience is framed in terms of the criteria for conducting good reference interviews provided in the textbook by Cassell and Hiremath.
    • Describe or assess what types of web, print, and databases were used by the librarian to answer reference questions.
    • For the summary, describe your conclusions or reflections about what you learned because of this experience. For example, did anything unexpected occur? Did you think that Cassell and Hiremath's recommended steps for a reference interview worked in real life? What types of reference resources worked well when "in the trenches"? Did you learn anything new from talking with the reference librarian?
    • If you do an appraisal, support your assessment with concrete and substantive examples of the reference interviews you witnessed.
    • Good writing mechanics and grammar were used. (4-5 pages)
    If you have problems with shadowing at a reference desk, you can also select the following option:

    Alternative Option: Prerecorded Presentation 
    This option is designed to give students the opportunity to use Elluminate or some other technology of your choice such as Jing or YouTube to create a short 10-minute prerecorded introduction to a database at SJSU or a library in your area. In addition to giving students to opportunity to teach in an online environment, these prerecorded sessions also provide the rest of the class with an introduction to some relevant databases that they might not otherwise become familiar with.

    Grading Criteria:
    • The student presenter introduced him or herself and explained the goals for the instructional session.
    • Instructional session was well organized and covered the major points about the selected database.
    • The presentation made clear how the database might be useful for reference librarians.
    • The student presenter presented the materials clearly and succinctly.
    • The presentation was well designed.
    • The student presenter was knowledgeable about the topic selected. 
  • Assignment 5: Reference Bibliography 15% The goal of this assignment is for the class to have current and relevant reference resources as an update for the textbook. Choose a specific library setting and topic and identify resources that have been updated in 2008 or later that would be appropriate print or digital additions in your subject area. This means that you can include both classic reference resources as long as they have been updated since in 2008 or later or new reference resources. Provide short annotations with a critical evaluation of each source that includes information on the coverage and scope, format, authority, treatment, arrangement, special features, and cost (if appropriate) of your selected resources. Also include imprint/publication information (name of publisher, place, and date of publication), frequency, the audience, uses, limitations, and a description of why the resource was selected. It will help ensure consistency if you use a format that lists the price, type, and audience. 

    Grading Criteria:
    • Overall design
    • Appropriate selection of resources for subject area
    • Solid justification for the choices is provided
    • Information about the coverage and scope, format, authority, treatment, arrangement, special features, and cost (if appropriate) of the resources were accurate, well organized, and concise.
    • APA formatting.
  • Participation / 2 Citations 4% 
    Post two citations for scholarly sources used in the R2-10 discussion topics. Use the  dropbox to provide (1) two citations using APA formatting. (2) Make sure the two sources are in library professional journals. (3) Provide the two posted comments and  identify the weeks of the two postings where you used the sources in your postings. Use R2-R10.

*** NOTE: The details of the assignments, grading criteria, and grading rubrics are subject to minor adjustments with fair notice. 

Course Grading
All work is due by the date listed. If you are unable to complete the work by the assigned date, you need to email me to make alternative arrangements. No work will be accepted after the last day of class unless arrangements have been made in writing and approved for an incomplete. I provide feedback for mini activities, reading summaries by email so if you do not receive an email, let me know! Feedback for major projects will be posted in the gradebook when grades are posted.

Check the grading criteria with class assignments before submitting assignments to be sure that you are addressing all of the elements that should be included in the assignments.

Textbooks and Readings

Information about additional readings from online articles, Web resources, and videos will be posted as the semester progresses, but there will be no additional textbooks for the class that you need to purchase. Just FYI: We will be using APA for formatting of text and reference citations so you may want to get the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.), but that is not required. I will provide some resources that can help with the APA rules.

** NOTE: The 2011 edition of the Cassell and Hiremath textbook provides the most updated list of reference resources and discussion of recent changes in reference services, but you can also opt to purchase the 2009 version if price or availability is an issue.

Required Textbooks:

  • Cassell, K.A. & Hiremath, U. (2011). Reference and information services in the 21st century (2nd ed. revised). Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555707408. 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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