LIBR 210-13
Reference and Information Services
Fall 2011 Greensheet

August 24 - December 8, 2010
No instruction on Sept. 5, Nov. 11, Nov. 24-25 

Dr. Johanna Tunon
E-mail -- For class-related communications, use the D2L email.
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 Standard time. You are welcome to call before 10 pm Eastern Standard/Daylight time.

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
iSchool eBookstore

Students will be automatically enrolled in the D2L site for this course. The course will be automatically available to students on August 24th, 2011.

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:

  • 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 (24%)
      Mini activities = 3% X 8 weeks
      (E1, E4, E5, E8, E9, E11,  E12, E13)
    • Assignment 2 (30%)
      (Weeks 2-9, 11-12 -- R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R7, R8, R9, R11, R12) X 3%
      Week 16 (R16) X 1%
    • Assignment 3 (15%)
      Reference desk shadowing 
      ** Alternative option 
      - prerecorded presentation (A3)


  • Assignment 4 - (15%)
    Complete a web-based LibGuide/pathfinder/subject guide  (A4)


  • Assignment 5 (15%)
    Reference bibliography 15%  (A5)
  • Participation - (1%)
  • SOTES -- extra credit (0.5%)

Course Calendar

Week   Overview of Class Activities and Assignments Due Dates 
Wk 1

• Post introductions
• Readingand video: Chapter 1 (“Introduction to Reference and Information Services”) in the Reference and Information Services in the 21st Century: An Introduction by Cassell and Hiremath
E1 mini activity (3%)
Optional Elluminate:
Discussion of the expectations for the course and how to navigate around in the class. Time for questions and answers (Aug. 24 – 7 pm PT)

Aug. 28
Wk 2

• Reading and video: Chapter 2: “Determining the Question: In-person, Telephone, and Virtual Reference Interviews”
• R2 Week 2 discussion topic (3%)

Sept. 4
Wk 3

• Readings and videos - Chapter 3 (“Finding the Answer: Basic Search Techniques”)
 and Chapter 4 (“Answering Questions about Books, Magazines, Newspapers, Libraries, Publishers, and Bibliographic Networks – Bibliographic Resources”)
 • R3 Week 3 discussion topic (3%)
No classes Sept. 5

Sept 11
Wk 4

• Readings and videos - Chapter 5 (“Answering Questions about Anything and Everything-- Encyclopedias”) and Chapter 7 (“Answering Questions about Words – Dictionaries”)
• R4 Week 4 discussion topic (3%) 
• E4 mini activity  (3%) 

Sept. 18
Wk 5

• Readings and videos: Chapter 6 (“Answering Questions that Require Handy Facts – Ready Reference Sources”) and
• Week 5 -- Video lecture
• Video on formatting journal article citations using APA 
• R5 Week 5 discussion topic (3%)
• E5 mini activity (3%)

Sept. 25
Wk 6

• Readings and videos – Chapter 15 (“Reference Work with Children and Young Adults”)
• R6 Week 6 discussion topic R6 (3%)
Assignment 3 -Reference desk shadowing or alternative option -- prerecorded presentation  (15%)

Oct. 2
Wk 7

• Readings and videos – Chapter 8 (“Answering Questions about Events and Issues, Past and Present – Indexes and Full-Text Databases”) and Chapter 16 (“Information Literacy in the Reference Department”) 
• R7 Week 7 discussion topic (3%)

Oct. 9
Wk 8

• Readings and videos – Chapter 9 (“Answering Questions about Health, Law, and Business – Special Guidelines and Sources”) and Chapter 17 (“Selection and Evaluating Reference Materials”)
• ACRL transcript entitled Are Reference Desks Passe?
R8 Week 8 discussion topic (3%)
•E8 mini activity (3%)

Oct. 16
Wk 9 • Readings and videos – Chapter 10 (“Answering Questions about Geography, Countries, and Travel – Atlases, Gazetteers, Maps, Geographic Information Systems, and Travel Guides”) and Chapter 20 ("Reference 2.0")
• R9 Week 9 discussion topic (3%)
• E9 mini activity (3%)
Oct. 23
Wk 10

 • Reading and videos – Chapter 11 (“Answering Questions about the Lives of People – Biographical Information Sources”)
Assignment 4 -- LibGuide/pathfinder/subject guide (15%)

Oct. 30

Wk 11

• Readings and videos – Chapter 12 (Answering Questions about Governments – Government Information Sources”), and Chapter 13 (When and How to Use the Internet as a Reference Tool”)
• R11 Week 11 discussion topic (3%) 
• E11 mini acitivity (3%)

Nov. 6
Wk 12

• Readings and videos – Chapter 18 (“Managing Reference Departments”) and Ch. 19 (“Assessing and Improving Reference Services”)
R12 Week 12 discussion topic (3%)
• E12 mini activity (3%)

No classes Nov. 11

Nov. 13
Wk 13

• Reading and video --Chapter 14 (“Reader’s Advisory Work”)
E13 mini activity (3%)

Nov. 20
Wk 14

• No classes Nov. 24-25  Thanksgiving

Nov. 27 

Wk 15

• Reading and video – Chapter 21 (“The Future of Information Service”)
• R15 -- optional discussion topic -- job hunting tips
Assignment 5 (15%) -- Reference bibliography due Dec. 4 

Dec. 4
Wk 16

• Week 16 -- Wrapping things up
• Week 16 -- optional discussion topic – suggested changes for next term
• R16 Week 16 discussion topic (1%)
Extra credit (0.5%) for completing SOTES survey

Dec. 5 - 8
  Course ends:
• Dec. 8 -- all work must be submitted by midnight
• The course content will be available until Dec. 23.
Dec. 8

 * 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 Activities 24% (3% X 8 weeks)
    In eight out of the sixteen weeks of class, we will have mini acitvities that will have you actually look for appropriate sources to information quest questions or examine specific types of resources. Post the mini activities in the dropbox provided. In some cases, you may need to locate a print resource in a library so plan ahead. 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. 
    • When appropriate, analysis/synthesis tied the discussion posting to the textbook or outside sources such as journal articles that were included in the discussion to support points being made.
  • Alternative option -- If you are working in a special library setting and have a suggestion for an alternative assignment that would give you comparable skills using reference sources in a specific type of library setting, contact me.
  • Assignment 2: Weekly Discussions  
    R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R7, R8, R9, R11, R12 (10 X 3%= 30%)
    R16 (1%),

    These weekly activities require more than you just posting your own personal opinions or experiences as they may pertain to the textbook. You will be asked to visit a library or use some kind of reference service, synthesize your experience based on the textbook readings and the questions provided in the discussion forums to help guide the discussions, and report on your findings and conclusions. As a result, you will need to plan ahead for the weeks that may require you to physically visit a library.  Address the questions asked for all designated weeks. Each week's posting will be graded on:
  • Address the questions asked for the designated week.
  • Used appropriate grammar and communicated in a professional manner.
  • Substantive content
  • Applied and synthesized what you have learned in the textbook readings to the topic under discussion.
    NOTE: If there is a week when you cannot do the prep work for the discussion topic, you will have the option to locate two research articles on some reference or library instruction-related topic, and post summaries of the two articles.

Grading criteria:

  • A demonstrated grasp of the topic
  • Demonstrated understanding and synthesis of the video lecture, overview, and textbook as it pertains to the discussion topic in the posting.
  • Reflect on what you learned.
  • Any designated discussion points were addressed appropriately.
  • Clear communication style  (writing, grammar, APA formatting of citations)

Assignment 3: 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. For people who cannot complete this activity for whatever reason, you can opt to complete two additional article summaries as an alternative to shadowing a reference librarian at the referenc desk.

Grading Criteria:

  • A clear and robust summary 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 and at least one scholarly article on reference services.
  • Describe what types of web, print, and databases were used by the librarian to answer reference questions.
  • 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?
  • Good writing mechanics and grammar were used. Use APA for formatting of reference citations. 

Alternative Option : Prerecorded Presentation Option 
This option is designed to give students the opportunity to use some tyhpe of technology such as Elluminate or Jing for a short 10-minute introduction to a database at SJSU or a library in your area.  The presentation can be done as a PowerPoint slide presentation with voiceovers, a screencast using a free application such as Jing, a video posted on YouTube, an archived Elluminate session, or some other appropriate method of your choice.  Just be sure to allow yourself enough time in case you run into technology glitches if you select this option! 

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 and utilized in a clear and logical manner.
  • The student presenter was knowledgeable about the topic selected. 

Assignment 3 (15%)
LibGuide/Pathfinder/Subject Guide Option 
Develop a pathfinder on a topic useful for helping library patrons find relevant resources on a topic of interest. It can be a two-sided handout to use at a reference desk or organized as a web subject guide or using a template like LibGuides is you have access to that. However, I would encourage people to do some kind of web-based guide because this is a useful skill to have when you interview for a professional library job! You can take a look at examples of some LIBR 210 pathfinders at
If you do opt to use LibGuides, contact me, and I can create a shell for you to customize. For more information about LibGuides, see

Grading Criteria:

  • The LibGuide/pathfinder/subject guide provided clear information about the scope of the tool.
  • The document addressed the identified information need.
  • The document  provided appropriate subject headings, call numbers, titles, names, and URLs for websites as appropriate.
  • The document was attractive, well laid out, organized well, and appropriate for the age and ability level of the intended user(s).
  • The document identified a variety of appropriate resources for the information need.
  • The document organized the information in a clear and concise manner.
  • The document used correct grammar and writing mechanics
  • The document used fonts, headings, color, and graphics effectively so that the document was visually attractive.

Assignment 5: Reference Bibliography (15%) 
The goal of this assignment is for the individuals in the class to have a list of current and relevant reference resources as an update for the textbook. You will be working in groups to identify the best reference online and print resources for public/academic libraries  or school libraries published or updated in 2009 or later in your subject area. This means that you can include both classic reference resources as long as they have been updated since in 2009 or later or new reference resources. The final product needs to be formatted  for the reference citations as appropriate, and short annotations use some kind of consistant formatting and include a critical evaluation of each source. Provide information on the coverage and scope, format, authority, treatment, arrangement, special features, and cost (if appropriate) of your selected resources as appropriate. Also when appropriate, 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 as standard elements. 
Grading Criteria:

  • Overall design
  • Description of the overall scope of the sources selected
  • Appropriate selection of resources (print and online) 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.
  • Appropriate and consistant formatting.
  • Participation (1%) 
    Pparticipation based on responses to other people's postings will be considered this participation grade. Although this is not a major part of the final grade, for you to get credit for participation, you need to a substantive role in responding to others's postings over the semester.

    Grading Criteria:
  • Although responses are not required for every discussion topic, there does need to be a pattern of engagement in the discussion topics throughout the semester.
  • Substantive comments that show an understanding of the content.
  • Good communication style and grammar.

*** 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 discussion postings in the dropbox so if you do not receive it, let me know! Feedback for major projects and mini activities will be posted in the dropbox when grades are posted.

Check the grading criteria with class assignments posted here in the greensheet 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.

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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