LIBR 280-03
History of Books and Libraries
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Beth Wrenn-Estes, Instructor
Cell Phone: 303-349-8488
Office Hours: By appointment and done by e-mail or Elluminate

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Angel Course Site
A course site has been created in Angel. The instructor will give all students access to the course site and no passwords will be necessary. Access will be granted on January 15th approximately.

Instructor Blog
The instructor maintains a blog where recorded lectures are located. Other course resources are also on the blog and students should check in often to listen or read through resources listed there.

BLOG Address:

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 text during the manuscript period, and 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 the changing forms of the book itself - tablet, scroll, folio, codex, octavo, fiche, or data bank.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 200 required.

Course Objectives

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 must be of graduate standard. This means:
    no assignments submitted after the due date and time; all work will be typed and double-spaced; all pages will be consecutively numbered in each assignment;
    spelling, grammatical, and syntactical errors will not be allowed and will cause loss of points on the assignment; and all work cited should be in full in accordance with APA format.

E-mail and Naming of Files

Please include in the subject line of EVERY email you send to me as Instructor or to your classmates the following:

  • Files Submitted for Assignments must include the following:

E-mail Response Time
Instructor checks email on a regular basis throughout the day and evenings. HOWEVER the general policy will be that your email will be answered within 24 hours of the instructor receiving it. Please nly use the instructor's personal email if the question or concern is something you do not feel comfortable sharing with the class or if the instructor asks you to. Holidays and spring break may be an exception to the 24 hour policy but a response will be sent as soon as possible.

If the instructor will be away from Internet access an email will be sent out to the class telling them that and also indicating when regular access to the Internet will resume.

There is a discussion board link where all general questions and concerns should be posted. It helps the instructor and your classmates to see the question and the instructors response to it.

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.

Course Calendar
Subject to change with fair notice.

Course Grading

  • No extra credit assignments will be given.
  • Late assignments will not be accepted. If you have an illness you must supply a note from your physician or a family tragedy occurs please contact the instructor immediately.
  • Missed Work will result in 0 points for that particular assignment. Please contact the instructor immediately if you miss any work for the class.
  • Instructor will return your paper if appropriate with the assignment evaluation within 7-10 days. Your points on that assignment will be posted in the grade book as quickly as your assignment is graded.
  • In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

Elluminate Sessions - Mandatory

(the original class posting indicated 4)
April 14 and April 16 - Group Presentations (Groups and topics assigned by the instructor). Sessions will take place from 7-9 p.m. Pacific Time.


  • Posted by January 26th - Introductory Comments
  • Posted by February 8th - Communication in the Ancient World - Comments by Instructor
  • Posted by March 17th - Printing in Europe and the movement towards the modern world - Instructor Comments
  • Posted by April 20th - Leaders in the world of libraries

Assignments - Detailed Descriptions

Group Presentations (Done through Elluminate) 20
Manuscript Study 12
Printed Book Study 15
Research Paper 30
Discussion Threads 20


Manuscript/Website Study


See detailed description below

Group Presentations 

4/14, 4/16 Instructor will assign Elluminate Session date to each student. 
Printed Book Study 4/25 See detailed description below

Research Paper


See detailed description below 

Discussion Threads

Wk. 1 (1/22-1/25)
Wk. 3 
Wk. 7 (3/2 - 3/8)
Wk.12 (4/6 - 4/12)
Wk. 14 (4/20 - 4/26)

Topics will be assigned and announced in advance of the week's discussion. 


End of Semester

Information on the SOTES will be given towards the end of the class. Your input into the class content and the instructor is of great value.


WK/Dates TOPICS Readings


Communication in the Ancient World

Casson - Chapters 1-8

Harris - Chapters 1-6




(2/16 -3/8)

Manufacture of Books in the Middle Ages, Technological Developments to the 15 Century

Casson - Chapter 9

Harris - Chapter 7

Additional websites may be added for this section of the class at a later date and announced to the class via email and the Angel course site.


(3/9 to 4/5)

The Introduction of Printing in Europe, Moving Towards the Modern World, 17th - 20th Century Developments

Harris - Chapter 9, 10

Additional websites may be added for this section of the class at a later date and announced to the class via email and the Angel course site.


(4/13  - 4/26)

Changes in Book design, Print Culture in the New World, Public Library Movement in the 19th Century America, Special Populations and Special Causes in Early Public Libraries


Harris - Chapter 11

Additional websites may be added for this section of the class at a later date and announced to the class via email and the Angel course site. 

Week 15

(4/27 - 5/3)


Libraries in California, Library Pioneers and the Feminization of American Libraries, The Library of congress, ALA, and Andrew Carnegie: the Professionalism of American Librarianship

Harris - Chapter 12

Additional websites may be added for this section of the class at a later date and announced
to the class via email and the Angel course site.

Audio - scroll to bottom of page codeofethics.pdf

Week 16 None  Please take the time to work on your final projects.


  • Week 1       (1/22 - 1/25)
  • Week 3       (2/2 - 2/8)
  • Week 7       (3/2 - 3/8)
  • Week 12     (4/6 - 4/12)
  • Week 14     (4/20 - 4/26)

WEEK 1 students will introduce themselves. Please let us know where you work, where you are in the program and any other details that you'd like to share. In the past students have shared information about family and pets. There are no points associated with this posting but it helps immensely for all of us to get to know one another.

Subsequent discussion threads will have specific topics assigned. There will be 5 points assessed for each of the discussion threads if both postings meet the criteria specified.

Each student must post a substantial comment about the topic presented. The second response must be a substantial response to a classmate's post. If the post is not of sufficient length and contain relevant content the instructor reserves the right to reduce the points for that discussion.

It is important to post a bit before the deadline for posting so that responses to the post can be facilitated.

All posts must be made no later than 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time the last date listed for the thread.



Select a manuscript to study. It must be Medieval or Renaissance, i.e., dated before 1500.

I would suggest that you visit a local library or institution that houses a collection of manuscripts. If you are unable to do this you may be able to conduct your research via the library and the Web. Even if you visit a manuscript collection you will most likely need to conduct some research.

Your study should address the following points. Each point should have its own heading followed by the pertinent information. It is not enough to just jot down the author or creator. Tell me something about the author or creator - or at least something about the time in which he/she/they lived. It is not enough to just jot down the name of the script. Tell me a little bit about it. It is not enough to say yes there is a binding - tell me about it.

Checklist of MS points

  • Context (set the manuscript into its period and provide some background information)
  • Author(s) or creator. What could you find out about them?
  • Title(s)
  • Incipit
  • Explicit
  • Colophon
  • Size
  • Binding
  • Material written on (parchment or paper)
  • Collation and how was it put together: rulings, page, or leaf layout
  • Script(s) or type of writing
  • Hands of different scribes?
  • Ink
  • Rubrication
  • Decoration
  • Illumination Painting
  • Summary


  1. Remember each manuscript is unique and may not have all the features on the checklist; on the other hand, you will probably find things not mentioned on the checklist.
  2. Please attach a detailed list of resources researched for your manuscript.
  3. Your research should be typed up in Microsoft Word. Please put your name on your paper. I will expect to see at least 10 pages, excluding title page and reference page(s).
  4. If you wish you may present the results of your research as a Web site (provided you know how to do this). No instruction in Web site building can be given in this class. 





The instructor will assign students to a group. The group will communicate with each other and propose a topic for the instructor. It is very important to select a broad broad topic not a specific manuscript or book. Groups may not pick any California library for their presentations or any single manuscript or book.

The group should select a team leader. The team leader's major responsibility is to communicate from the group to the instructor and vice versa. Team leaders must contact the instructor by no later than January 31st to: 1) let the instructor know that they have been chosen and 2) the suggested topic for the group assignment.

Topic ideas must be approved by the instructor before the group starts any research. The presentation must be a minimum of 30 minutes and you will use Elluminate.

Each member of the group must be an active part of the presentation. Peer review will be done by the other members of the class in a confidential manner on each of the group's presentations. Each member of the group will also send a confidential email to the instructor describing the pros and cons of their group's presentation.

The presentation grade earned by the group will be the points assigned to each member of the class so teamwork is a crucial component of the assignment. The more creative and innovative you are with using various forms of tools (power points, pointing to websites, etc.) the higher the grade due to the fact that full points will be only assigned for exceptional work as with any other assignment for the class.

If you create any documents for your presentation I want them to be posted to the appropriate discussion thread that I will create on the Angel site.

It is highly recommended to practice your presentation at least once using Elluminate to work out any bugs. The course will have a graduate assistant to help facilitate these sessions.

SESSION DATES - April 14th and 16th

Choose a printed book to describe (see criteria below). You must select a book from the invention of printing until 1900.

I would suggest that you visit a local library or institution that houses a collection of early printed books. If you are unable to do this you may be able to conduct your research via the library and the Web. Even if you visit a collection you will most likely need to conduct some research.

Your study should address the following points. Each point should have its own heading followed by the pertinent information. You should include as much information as you can find on each point. For example it is not enough to just jot down the printer. Tell me something about the printer. It is not enough to just jot down the author. Tell me something about the author. It is not enough to say yes there is a binding! Tell me about it.

Checklist of printed books points

  • Context (set the printed book into its period and provide some background information)
  • Author(s)
  • Title(s)
  • Printer(s)
  • Publisher(s)
  • Place of publication
  • Title page (for early books: is there one, and with what developments)
  • Incipit and explicit (for incunabula)
  • Colophon
  • Size and format (folio, quarto, octavo, etc.)
  • Collation
  • Paper (watermarks?)
  • Page layout
  • Foliation/pagination
  • Printer's device
  • Type (i.e., roman, italic, gothic, etc.)
  • Color printing
  • Rubrication
  • Decoration (MS or printed)
  • Illumination
  • Painting
  • Binding
  • Endleaves and flyleaves


  1. Please attach a detailed list of resources researched for your printed book.
  2. Your research should be typed up in Microsoft Word. Please put your name on your paper. The paper should be a minimum of 15 pages excluding title page and reference page(s).
  3. If you wish you may present the results of your research as a Web site (provided you know how to do this). No instruction in Web site building can be given in this class. If you wish to build a Web site please contact Linda Main for a password to our Web site.



You must choose from one of the two topics described below and inform the instructor of which one you have decided to do for the project by no later than January 31st.


 In this assignment, you will research and write a social history of a California library of your choice. Choose any library that was 1) established prior to 1905 and 2) has some institutional records (i.e., legal, financial, or personnel documents; correspondence; memorabilia and ephemera; trustee minutes; annual reports; reminiscences and oral histories; clippings; etc.). Using these records and any local and institutional histories available construct a history of the library from its inception through 1920. Your library history should concentrate on one or more of the following areas of inquiry: the origins of the public library movement in the town; the staffing and operation of a pioneer library; and the building and facilities of early libraries in California. As you do your research, look for answers to the following questions:

  1. Origins and Founding
    1. When was the library first opened?
    2. Was it a reading room or social library prior to becoming a public institution?
    3. Which individuals or organizations were behind its founding and what purpose(s) did they think the library would have?
    4. Who were the founders of the library (class, race, ethnicity, gender, religious background, etc.)?
    5. Who used the library? Do you get a sense of who the founders targeted and who the early patrons were? Was this a white, middle-class oriented institution, or did the early library reflect California's diverse population?
  2. Staff and Operation
    1. Who was the first librarian, and what can you find out about his/her background, personal life, and professional training?
    2. What was the librarian's salary, and was there much turnover in the position?
    3. Who were the library assistants, what were they paid, what was their training or preparation, and what did they do on the job?
    4. What individuals were on the first board of trustees and what role did they play in the library's operation?
    5. What services did the library provide (children's room, reference, classes, delivery stations, lecture series, Americanization or community outreach programs, etc.), and did these services change over time?
  3. Building and Facilities
    1. Where was the first library located, and how was the land and building obtained?
    2. Did the library receive a Carnegie grant? What impact did the grant have on library operations?
    3. What did the library look like, and how was it laid out?
    4. What does the library's design say about the roles and images that the library had?
    5. What does the design and layout of the early library suggest about the working conditions experienced by pioneer librarians?

I don't expect that you will be able to cover all of these topics or answer all of these questions; instead let them serve as a guide to the kind of topics you might cover in your research. The finished paper should be around 20 pages, exclusive of title page, notes and bibliography. For notes and bibliography, I'd recommend using the Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian. These are the standard and most helpful style manuals for historical writing.

Grading of this paper will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Conceptualization and presentation. Does the paper have a governing theme or set of questions that give focus to the narrative? Is the paper arranged in a logical order, and is there an identifiable introduction and conclusion? Is the writing style intelligible and effective? Have you used the style manual effectively for notes and bibliography?
  2. Quality and quantity of research. Have you done ample reading in the secondary literature pertaining to the history of the town and library or is your history based largely on a single source? Have you located and used primary sources? Is your research evident in the written presentation through the use of quotes and footnotes?
  3. Depth and quality of analysis. Have you identified significant themes and issues that emerged during your research into the library's history? Do you describe and analyze these themes or simply present an unanalyzed chronology of changes and events? To what extent have you related the particulars of your library to the broader themes in library history presented in the class lectures and readings? More particularly, what does your library's history reveal about the development of libraries and the library profession in America between 1850 and 1920?


Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbooks:

  • 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
  • Casson, L. (2002). Libraries in the Ancient World. Yale University Press. Available through Amazon: 0300097212. 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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