LIBR 210-02
Reference and Information Services
Fall 2012 Greensheet

J. David Midyette
Office Location: Baltimore, MD
Office Hours:10am - 10pm EDT/EST

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Students will be automatically enrolled in the D2L site for this course. The course will be automatically available to students on 22 August 2012.

Course Description

Reference work is where the rubber meets the road in library work. Information professionals are increasingly confronted with new demands for information based in new technology, new formats, and new needs. While print is still a crucial component of reference work, librarians and the people that they serve are increasingly in need of and demanding information from electronic resources. These shifting needs present a myriad of challenges to librarians both old and new in terms of their own understanding and integration of new ideas and skills.

In this course we will:

  1. look at how the reference interaction works;
  2. examine reference sources in multiple formats;
  3. develop skills in providing a range of reference services; and
  4. ponder the future of reference work within the library setting.

Course Requirements

Required Home Computing Environment
Please see the School’s “Home Computing Requirements” at

This course will be held entirely online through the D2L virtual classroom.

It is important to pay attention to time management in order to complete an online course successfully. Although you can access the course materials online at any time, plan to set aside time each week to complete the readings and assignments. It is easy to get behind, so be organized, disciplined and self-motivated. Please check the site regularly for announcements, assignments, discussion board questions, etc.


  • Observations
    All reference interactions are different and vary according to type of library and patron need. It is crucial for your development as librarians to see how this variety impacts information need and the “success” of the reference interaction. You will observe three different reference interactions in different library settings and report your findings to your fellow students for evaluation and comment. Supports SLO #1, SLO #3, and SLO #6.
  • Exercises
    To give you a better understanding of the variety of reference sources that you might need as a practitioner, you will be performing several reference exercises designed to familiarize yourself with where you will be looking for information as a practitioner. These will be designed to balance success, frustration, challenge, and ease. They will help you understand the emotions that your patrons feel or will feel as they search for information to meet their needs. Supports SLO #2.
  • Guides
    These are crucial tools in all libraries and can be useful to everyone from the first-time library user to the seasoned bibliophile. Most people experience the unplanned need for information in their life, and a pathfinder can be a quick but helpful way to get them started. For this exercise, you will select either a topic that you are familiar with or a topic about which you know little to nothing. You will find resources and produce a quick start guide to launch patrons down the path to understanding that topic. Your pathfinder will include sources in different formats with brief descriptions of the source and why it will be beneficial. We will be using LibGuides for this project. Supports SLO #4 and SLO #7.
  • Participation
    Since this class is entirely online, our discussions will form a good portion of your coursework. This is an excellent way to begin building networks, but also to provide helpful feedback to your peers. Posts and responses are expected to be substantive, and should further discussion and promote independent thinking. Discussions are bi-weekly to allow for more interaction and will give you the change to hone your reference skills by selecting key articles on each topic to discuss with your peers. Supports SLO #5 and SLO #8.

Summary of assignments and their worth:

Assignment % of final grade
Observations 20%
Exercises 20%
Guide 20%
Class participation 40%

Tentative Course Calendar
Please check the course documents and course calendar in D2L for specifics on actual due dates!

Date Week Topic Required Reading Due
8/22/12 0 Introductions/Exploration    
8/27/12 1 Introduction to Reference Work C&H Ch. 1 & 2  
9/2/12 2      
9/9/12 3 Selecting and Evaluating Sources C&H Ch. 17 Obs.1 due
9/16/12 4      
9/23/12 5 Internet Searching C&H Ch. 8 & 13 Ex.1 due
9/30/12 6      
10/7/12 7 Reader's Advisory C&H Ch. 6 & 14 Obs.2 due
10/14/12 8      
10/21/12 9 Special Populations and Needs C&H Ch. 5 & 15 Ex.2 due
10/28/12 10      
11/4/12 11 Ethics and Reference Work C&H Ch. 12 Guide Draft due
11/11/12 12      
11/18/12 13 Reference Trends C&H Ch. 9 & 20 Obs.3 due
11/25/12 14      
12/2/12 15 Social Media, RSS, Apps, and more   Ex.3 due
12/9/12 16      
12/10/12   All assignments due for a grade.   Final Guide due

Please be aware that there is always the possibility of altering some of the assignments or discussions to meet changes in the semester, but students will have both input and fair notice of the changes.

Extra Credit
Extra credit options will not be available.

Late Assignments
Late work will only be accepted only with prior approval of instructor.

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 202

Student Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and assess the characteristics and functions of various types of reference sources.
  2. Use basic reference tools and searching techniques to answer a wide range of questions.
  3. Conduct effective reference interviews.
  4. Describe the relationships between user needs, information resources, and relevant information technologies.
  5. Describe current issues and trends in reference services, including the impact of technology on user needs and reference interactions.
  6. Evaluate reference services that address the needs of a diverse and changing society.
  7. Understand the relationship between reference service and information literacy instruction.
  8. Begin to develop a personal philosophy of reference service.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

LIBR 210 supports the following core competencies:

  1. I Use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information.
  2. N Evaluate programs and services based on measurable criteria.


Required Textbooks:

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