LIBR 221-01
LIBR 221-10
Government Information Sources
Summer 2012 Greensheet

bontenbal photo Kevin Bontenbal



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This course will be available on D2L on Wednesday, May 30. 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

This course is an introduction to the variety of government information sources produced by the United States government, both in print, and online. This goal of this course is to provide students with a broad understanding of the significance and use of government information sources. The course will examine government information resources and consider issues of access, availability, dissemination, and archival issues. Although the main focus of the course will be on United States government sources, state and local sources will also be investigated.

Course Requirements

This course will be conducted entirely online using D2L (Desire2Learn). Lectures, assignments, and communications, including discussions and announcements, will be conducted via D2L.

You must be extremely organized, disciplined and self-motivated in order to complete an online course successfully. Though you can access the course materials online anytime, plan to set aside time each day to complete the readings and assignments. It’s too easy to get behind quickly.

Here is an overview of the assignments for this course:

  • Readings - SLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    Each week there will be:
    • an online “lecture(s)” provided by the instructor via D2L;
    • readings from the textbook;
    • article readings regarding government information, and;
    • other readings as assigned.
  • Online Discussions - SLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    Throughout the course, approximately every other week there will be a discussion topic posted to the class discussion board on a topic related to the course readings. Students will be expected to provide a thoughtful and reflective response to these topics. In addition to responding to each of the seven topics, students are also encouraged to engage in dialog with each other by responding to other student's responses to the topics.
  • Reflective Essay Addressing Topic Covered in Class or Readings - SLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    This essay will require students to formalize their understanding and exhibit critical thinking about course topics and readings. The essay should be no more than 5 pages. Student will have the option of selecting any course topic that has or is being covered in class.

    The essay should contain a bibliography that includes at least two sources in proper APA format. Sources can be from personal readings, the textbook, online articles or online subscriptions. The essay is worth 25 points.
  • Government Information Scavenger Hunt - SLOs 1, 4, 6
    Students will be given a list of questions that they must find the answers to using government information sources and the Web.
  • Research Paper - SLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    Students will write a formal research paper that analyzes a significant issue related to government publications. Paper topics may be selected from the areas covered in class or you may choose an issue of more personal interest that is relevant to the goals and objectives of this course. The text of your paper should be 15 to 20 pages in length (this does not include the title page, abstract, or bibliography). A bibliography is required of the sources both cited and consulted for background information and context and should include at least 20 citations.

You will be graded on the extent of your research, your description and critical analysis of the topic, the evidence you provide in support of your argument, and the clarity and quality of your writing. Your references and formatting should adhere to the rules established in the APA Publication Manual.

Total Possible Points are 190:

Discussion Topic Responses (5 points each) 35 points
Reflective Essay (25 points each) 25 points
Government Information Scavenger Hunt 30 points
Research Paper 100 points

Course Calendar

Week One Introduction and Overview

Access to Government Information
Week Two Government Printing Office (GPO)

Depository Libraries
Week Three Finding Aids and References Sources
Week Four Statistical Sources
Week Five Geographic Information Sources
Week Six Legislative Branch Information Sources

The Presidency
Week Seven Department and Agencies
Week Eight Administrative Law
Week Nine Legal Information Sources

Intellectual Property
Week Ten Foreign and International Documents

State and Local Information

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

LIBR 210

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of how government information sources are organized and used.
  2. Delineate the significance and value of government information sources.
  3. Articulate the issues and trends that affect access, availability, dissemination, and use of government sources.
  4. Recognize, understand, and use government sources, both traditional and electronic.
  5. Analyze and answer government information requests, and evaluate when and where to refer questions they cannot answer.
  6. Develop best practices and methods for discovering government information on a variety of topics.
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the dynamic landscape surrounding digital government information and e-government.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

LIBR 221 supports the following core competencies:

  1. B Describe and compare the organizational settings in which library and information professionals practice.
  2. H Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.


Required Textbooks:

  • Morehead, J. (1999). Introduction to United States government information sources (6th ed.). Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1563087359 (paperback). 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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