LIBR 210-16
Reference and Information Services
Spring 2011 Greensheet

Dr. Scott Walter
Office Hours: Virtually, via Angel

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Students must self-enroll for this course on Angel during these dates: January 19 - 25. You will be required to use a password access code which I will provide using the MYSJSU Messaging system.

Course Description

Catalog Course 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 Course Description
This course is designed to present an overview of reference and information services in a variety of settings, including: methods and models of information service delivery, basic tools for reference and information services, and emergent trends in reference and information service.

The major topics are:

  • the historical evolution of reference and information service in libraries;
  • traditional and emergent models of reference and information service;
  • evaluation, selection, and use of general reference sources;
  • evaluation and management of reference collections and services; and
  • issues in information technology and its impact on the provision of reference and information services.

Course Prerequisite: LIBR 202

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
At the completion of the course, students should:

  • be familiar with the reference process and the characteristics of a successful reference interview;
  • demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a reference interview;
  • be familiar with current standards for professional performance of face-to-face and digital reference service
  • achieve a working knowledge of core reference tools in a variety of fields; and
  • be familiar with current issues and trends in reference and information services.

LIBR 210 supports the following MLIS Core Competencies:

  • compare the environments and organizational settings in which library and information professionals practice;
  • 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; and
  • evaluate programs and services on specified criteria.

Course Requirements

As a graduate student, you are expected to:

  • complete and carefully consider all assigned readings;
  • fully participate in all class activities and discussions;
  • complete all assignments on time; and
  • inform the instructor if you have an illness or emergency that requires you to be absent from our online learning environment for an extended period of time or to request an extension on an assignment.

This is a Web-based course. All class activities will take place through Angel and Elluminate.

Angel will be used throughout this course. The Angel site for this class will open for self-enrollment by January 19th. You will receive a password access code for self-enrollment through the MySJSU messaging system. You should be enrolled in the Angel class site by January 25th.

Elluminate will be used regularly throughout this course. There are no synchronous sessions required for this class, but there will be optional sessions scheduled in order to allow review of class materials, engage in discussion regarding topics of interest or concern, and to ask questions of classmates and the instructor. These optional Elluminate sessions will be announced on Angel and recorded for later review by those unable to attend.

As this class includes no required synchronous sessions, it is crucial that you log into the Angel site on a regular basis in order to participate in asynchronous discussions and to receive announcements and updates to course requirements and the course calendar. An introduction to the Angel Learning System is available on the SLIS Listing of Angel Tours and Tutorials.

If this is your first class using Elluminate, please complete an orientation session prior to your first login. You may need to have a microphone attached to your computer in order to participate in Elluminate-supported class activities. It is recommended that you log in at least 10 minutes prior to the start of a class session to check the audio. A list of training times and other helpful information can be found in the SLIS Student Guide to Using Elluminate.

The SLIS Angel site is located at

The SLIS Elluminate site is located at

Technical Requirements
For a complete description of requirements, please see the guidelines for the SLIS Home Computing Environment.

You should plan to check your e-mail and the Angel class site regularly for announcements. You are also responsible for assuring that your contact information in Angel is current and that messages sent to you through Angel, if forwarded to your e-mail, are not being caught by your SPAM filter.


  • Class Participation (20%) - all students are expected to participate fully in the course. Active participation in synchronous and asynchronous discussions is expected of all students, and each student is expected to maintain individual contact with the instructor regarding course requirements, concerns, etc. Participation in threaded discussions will be crucial to success in this course and will be evaluated using the "Guidelines for Critical Engagement" described in course presentations and assignments sheets available on the Angel class site.
  • Reference Interview Analyses (20%) - you will pose reference questions in different information environments and observe different approaches to reference and information service. This assignment is designed to help you begin turning a critical eye on reference services provided in person and in the Web-based environment through a combination of observation, interaction, and reflection. Analysis I (Face-to-Face) will be due on February 16th. Analysis II (digital reference) will be due on March 2nd.
  • Reference Source Exercises (20%) - you will answer a number of sample reference questions using different tools. These short exercises are designed to help acquaint you with different types of reference tools (e.g., encyclopedias, indexes) and their use. You will also provide brief evaluations of the tool(s) used to answer each question. Assignments will be due on March 22nd, April 12th, and April 26th.
  • Pathfinder (10%) - you will develop a guide to core reference materials (print and electronic) for a specific area of study. This assignment is designed to help you become familiar with a variety of information resources in an area of interest to you and to prepare you for typical professional responsibilities for reference collection development and instruction. This assignment will be due on May 10th.
  • IPL Digital Reference Service (30%) - you will provide digital reference service through the Internet Public Library. This assignment has multiple parts and must be completed according to the schedule provided on the assignment sheet. You will begin work on this assignment by September 1st, and the final component of the assignment will be due on May 17th.

Detailed instructions for each assignment will be posted on the Angel class site.

Correct usage of academic English, spelling, grammar, and composition are expected, and all sources should be cited according to the most recent (6th) edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. For further information, see the SLIS APA Style Resources page.

Submitting Assignments
All assignments are due by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) on the dates noted above. Assignments should be submitted through Angel. Dates on which assignments are due may be modified by the instructor with appropriate notice.

Calendar of Due Dates

February 15th IPL Training
February 16th Reference Interview Analysis I
March 2nd Reference Interview Analysis II
March 22nd Source Assignment I
April 12th Source Assignment II
April 26th Source Assignment III
May 10th Pathfinder
May 17th Digital Reference Service Question Log and Reflection Paper

Finally, you will be expected to complete discussion question assignments throughout the semester, and may be asked to complete additional assignments related to course topics. Completion of these assignments will be factored into your "Class Participation" grade. These assignments will be found in the presentations (and other documents) made available under the "Lessons" tab in Angel.

Any changes to course assignments or to due dates will be announced via Angel.

Course Grading
Course assignments will be given the following weight in determining your final grade in LIBR 210:

  • Class Participation (20%)
  • Reference Interview Analysis I (10%)
  • Reference Interview Analysis II (10%)
  • Reference Source Exercises (20%)
  • Pathfinder (10%)
  • Digital Reference Service (30%)

Assignments must be submitted on or before their specified due dates. Any assignment turned in after the due date, without the permission of the instructor, will have its total score reduced by one point per day from the date due. Any assignment turned in more than one week after the due date, without the permission of the instructor, will not be accepted for grading, and a grade of "Zero" will be recorded for that assignment.

A course grade of "Incomplete" will be assigned only in cases of medical or family emergency. For more information, please see the SLIS Policy on Incompletes.

Textbooks and Readings

Supplemental Texts
The following texts are not required for this course, but they elaborate on some of the issues we will examine. Each is an excellent text that interested students may wish to review at some point:

  • Bopp, R. E., & Smith, L. C. (2001). Reference and information services: An introduction (3rd ed.). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
  • Janes, J. (2003). Introduction to reference work in the digital age. New York: Neal-Schuman.
  • Kern, M. K. (2008). Virtual reference best practices. Chicago: American Library Association.
  • Lanning, S., & Bryner, J. (2009). Essential reference services for today's school media specialists (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
  • Ross, C. S., Nilsen, K., & Radford, M. L. (2009). Conducting the reference interview: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians (2nd ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman.

Additional Readings
Readings in addition to your textbook will be available through the Angel class site, through the SJSU electronic journal collection, or through electronic reserves.

Readings required for each lesson will be available through the Angel class site, and discussion questions related to required readings may be found embedded in class lectures, etc.

Core Journals
You should begin to become familiar with professional journals that address issues relevant to this course and appropriate to your career plans, e.g.:

  • College & Research Libraries (Z671 C6)
  • Knowledge Quest (Z675.S3 K56)
  • Legal Reference Services Quarterly (K12.E357)
  • Medical Reference Services Quarterly (R118.2 M4)
  • Public Libraries (Z673.A5 P88)
  • Reference & User Services Quarterly (Z671.R7)
  • Reference Librarian (Z711.R43)
  • Reference Services Review (Z1035.1 R43)

The call numbers listed above are drawn from the library catalog, and they may help you to locate materials, if available, at any academic library to which you may have access. Each of the titles above is also available through the SJSU electronic journal collection.

Electronic Discussion Lists and Social Computing
Electronic discussion lists and social computing resources are an important part of professional dialogue and support for reference and information service librarians. All students in this class should subscribe to LIBREF-L, the largest electronic discussion list dedicated to issues in reference librarianship. In addition to LIBREF-L, you will find a variety of discussion lists and social networks dedicated to specific subject areas (e.g., history librarianship), to specialized service areas often administered as part of reference and information service programs (e.g., instructional services), and to the use of information technology as a means of delivering reference and information services.

Among the resources you may wish to explore are:

No Textbooks For This Course.

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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