LIBR 280-01
LIBR 280-10
History of Books and Libraries
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Linda Main
Clark Hall 420B (San Jose)
Phone: (408) 924-2494
Office Hours:
Virtually by e-mail;
in person by appointment

Debbie Hansen
LS 57 (Fullerton)
Phone: (714) 278-7288
Office Hours:
Virtually, by e-mail;
By appointment

Course Links
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Textbooks and Readings | Course Requirements

The access code for the Angel site will be sent to those enrolled in the class via the messaging system on the 20th January The Angel site will open for self-enrollment on the 21st January

Course Description

The purpose of this class is to lead students to a greater awareness of the roles of (1) the book and (2) the library in expressing and fostering culture throughout history.

The "book" is taken to mean all forms of records, e.g., cuneiform fragments, manuscripts, printed books, periodicals, and newspapers.

Expressing culture refers in this context primarily to the appearance of books; the arts of writing, lettering, and illustration involved in the production of manuscripts; and the technical developments of papermaking and of printing, engraving, and lithography involved in creating books.

Fostering culture refers to the content of books, the preservation of sacred and secular knowledge through carefully supervised copying of ancient texts during the manuscript period, and the dissemination of contemporary as well as traditional ideas through the ability to multiply copies by printing.

The development of libraries has naturally followed the historical course of the book, first as conservators of relatively rare and precious repositories of knowledge and imagination for the few who could afford and read books; later as retreats for scholars under the patronage of wealthy and cultured rulers; and finally as information resources for a large and literate public. Buildings, facilities, organization, and staffing have accommodated themselves to this development, and to the changing forms of the book itself—tablet, scroll, folio, codex, octavo, fiche, or data bank.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will become aware of the evolution of graphic communication symbols, and be able to identify alphabetic and ideographic systems in use in various parts of the world;
  2. Students will become familiar with the material and methods of book production in various parts of the world from the manuscript era to the present;
  3. Students will be able to analyze aspects of external forces—social, economic, political, religious, and artistic—that have affected the content and appearance of books in several specific parts of the world;
  4. Students will understand the economic problems that have shaped methods of publishing and distributing books;
  5. Students will be able to attribute major technical and artistic developments in typography, book design, and book production to persons and nations originating these developments;
  6. Students will understand the institutional development of libraries and how libraries have evolved in response to economic, social, and technological change;
  7. Students will be able to analyze the social functions of the library and understand how, why, and when library service evolved from a collection-centered to a client-centered institution;
  8. Students will appreciate the development of librarianship as a profession and be able to identify seminal theorists and practitioners in the field.

LIBR 280 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use
  • use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information

In addition, this section supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • contribute to the cultural, economic, educational, and social well-being of our communities

Course Requirements

Primary Requirements
Please read the following carefully:

  • All work will be of graduate standard. This means:
    1. no assignments submitted after the due date and time;
    2. spelling, grammatical, and syntactical errors will not be allowed; and
    3. all work cited should be in full accordance with the style format selected.
  • Late assignments will not be accepted. If you have an illness (medical certificate supplied) or a family tragedy please contact the instructor (L. Main for the first half of the class; D. Hansen for the second half of the class).

Technology Requirements
You will need a high-speed connection (DSL, cable, etc.) to successfully take this class. Please see the Technology Requirements and Instructions for Success handout.


  1. Exams. Students will be required to take 2 exams.
    • The midterm will be an exam on the history of books and early libraries to be held on the 8th March. It will be held via Angel. The exam will be open from 9am-9pm but once you start the exam you will only have 75 minutes to take it. Questions will be drawn from class handouts and class lectures. You will answer questions from one (and only one) of the following areas (selected by you on the day of the exam):
      • Grouping One
        The Ancient World
        Ancient and Medieval Libraries
        Monasteries and Scriptorium
      • Grouping Two
        Key Illuminated Manuscripts
        The Incunabula
      • Grouping Three
        17th -20th Century Developments
        Changes in Book Design (to cover paperbacks, dime novels, comics, children's books, and e-books)
    • The final will be an exam on the history of books, reading, and libraries in America. This exam will also be based on the assigned readings and websites as well as the class lectures given during the second half of the class only. The final will take place on the 26th April and will also be held on Angel.
  2. Manuscript and Printed Book Studies.Each student will select a manuscript and an early printed book to research and study.
  3. Weekly Activities and Discussions. During the history of books section of the class you will be assigned six weekly activities. During the history of American libraries portion of the class you will participate in weekly discussion forums.
  4. Research Paper. During the second half of the semester devoted to the history of American libraries, each student will write a social history of a California library of his or her choice. This will be a twenty-page paper, excluding references, based on archival research and in-depth reading in library history. A handout describing the theory and method to be used in this research paper will be provided. This paper will be due on May 3rd at 5 p.m.


Midterm Exam 14 points
Final Exam 14 points
Manuscript Project 15 points
Printed Book Project 15 points
Weekly Activities 6 points
Weekly Discussions 6 points
History of a Public Library 30 points


Due Dates  
Manuscript Project 12th February
Printed Book Project 5th March
Midterm 8th March
Library History 3rd May
Final Exam 26th April

Schedule of Weekly Activities/Discussions

  • History of Books
    • First Weekly Activity set 22nd January; due 29th January
    • Second Weekly Activity set 29th January; due 5th February
    • Third Weekly Activity set 5th February; due 12th February
    • Fourth Weekly Activity set 12th February; due 19th February
    • Fifth Weekly Activity set 19th February; due 26th February
    • Sixth Weekly Activity set 26th February; due 5th March
  • American Library History
    • First Week Discussion: March 12 - March 19
    • Second Week Discussion: March 19 - April 2
    • Third Week Discussion: April 2 - April 9
    • Fourth Week Discussion: April 9 - April 16
    • Fifth Week Discussion: April 16 - April 23
    • Sixth Week Discussion: April 23 - April 30

Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbooks:

  • Augst, T., & Carpenter, K. (2007). Institutions of Reading. Univ. of Massachusetts Press. Available through Amazon: 1558495916. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Diringer, D. (1982). The book before printing. Dover. Available through Amazon: 0486242439. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Febvre. L. (1976). The coming of the book: The impact of printing 1450-1800. Trans. David Gerard. Verso. Available through Amazon: 1859841082. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Finkelstein, D., & McCleery, A. (2006). The Book History Reader (2nd ed.). Routledge. Available through Amazon: 0415359481. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Harris, M. H. (1999). History of libraries in the western world (4th ed.). Scarecrow Press. Available through Amazon: 0810837242. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Howard, N. (2005). The book: The life story of a technology. Greenwood Technographies. Available through Amazon: 031333028X. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Katz, B. (1995). Dahl's history of the book. Rowman & Littlefield. Available through Amazon: 0810828529. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Martin, H. J. (1995). History and power of writing. University of Chicago Press. Available through Amazon: 0226508366. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Passet, J. (1994). Cultural Crusaders. University of New Mexico Press. Available through Amazon: 0826315305. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Wright, A. (2007). GLUT: Mastering information through the ages. Joseph Henry Press. Available through Amazon: 0309102383. 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.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.