LIBR 280-12
History of Books and Libraries
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Erin Lawrimore
Office Hours: Contact via email; telephone appointments can be arranged

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Textbooks and Readings | Course Requirements


This course will be conducted completed online via ANGEL. You should enroll in the course in ANGEL prior to the first day of class (January 22nd). The enrollment password will be distributed via the MySJSU system on January 18th.

Course Description

This course focuses on the history of books, printing, and libraries in the Western world from antiquity to the present day. We will examine libraries as social, political, and cultural institutions. The history of libraries and librarianship in the United States will be a major focus. Additionally, we will consider the origin and history of related information professions and repositories in the United States, including archival enterprise and preservation.

I will approach this course as a history class. As such, students will gain experience in historical research methodology through the creation of a research paper.

This course will take place completely online via ANGEL. Active class participation is required.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 200 required.

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
At the completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand how information has been created, disseminated, and preserved in different historical time periods
  • Acquire a basic knowledge of important facts, dates, people, and events in the history of books and librarianship in the Western world
  • Explain how social, political, and economic conditions have influenced the production of books and the development of libraries
  • Demonstrate knowledge of important events and people in the development of librarianship, archival enterprise, and preservation in the United States
  • Conduct historical research using primary and secondary sources

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

Course Requirements


  1. Quizzes (5 quizzes, 5 points each: 25 points). Throughout the semester, five quizzes will be conducted to gauge students’ understanding of the readings and the class notes. These quizzes will consist of a variety of question types (true/false, multiple choice, short answer). See Course Calendar for dates.
  2. Book History Assignment (approximately 5 pages: 15 points). Students create a brief history of one important person, place or event in the history of print culture in the Western World. Topics will be chosen from a list provided by the instructor, and no two students may write on the same topic. Assignments will be shared with classmates on ANGEL. Due February 28th.
  3. Research Paper (15-20 pages: 40 points). Students will utilize primary and secondary sources to create a historical study on a topic of their choice related to library history. Topics must be pre-approved by the instructor. This paper will be in lieu of a final exam. Due May 9th.
  4. Weekly Discussion Participation (14 weeks, 1 point per week; 6 points for overall class participation: 20 points). Each week, two or three questions or statements will be posted to the online forums to start the dialogue. Students are required to post a brief (approximately 200 words) yet thoughtful contribution to the weekly discussion. Overall participation will be determined by the thoughtfulness of the student’s responses as well as his/her willingness to read classmates’ responses and engage in conversations.

All assignments should be submitted electronically through ANGEL. All assignments are due on the date noted on the syllabus by midnight PST. Late assignments will be marked down 15% per day.

Course Calendar

  • Week One – January 23-31
    Course introduction; Anatomy of a book
  • Week Two – February 1-7
    Pre-literature culture and the development of writing
    Book History topic selection due by February 7
  • Week Three – February 8-14
    Manuscripts, pre-printing book culture
    Quiz #1 due by February 14
  • Week Four – February 15-21
    Advent of printing; incunabula; readers and literacy development
  • Week Five – February 22-28
    History of printing in the United States
    Book History Assignment due by February 28
  • Week Six – March 1-7
    Technological development in printing; future of the book
    Quiz #2 due by March 7
  • Week Seven – March 8-14
    Early libraries: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Alexandria
  • Week Eight – March 15-21
    Middle Ages and Renaissance libraries in Europe
    Quiz #3 due by March 21
  • Spring Break – March 23-27
  • Week Nine – March 29-April 4
    Early U.S. Libraries and Archives
    Research Paper topic due by April 4
  • Week Ten – April 5-11
    Public Library Movement in the United States
    Quiz #4 due by April 11
  • Week Eleven – April 12-18
    Professionalization of Librarianship and Related Professions
  • Week Twelve – April 19-25
    History of the Library of Congress and the National Archives
  • Week Thirteen – April 26-May 2
    Development of Description and Classification of Library and Archival Materials
    Quiz #5 due by May 2
  • Week Fourteen – May 3-9
    The Future of Libraries and Librarianship
    Research Paper due by May 9

This information is subject to change. Changes will be announced on the ANGEL site.

Textbooks and Readings

There are no required texts for this class. Additional course readings will be provided on ANGEL and course reserves. Also, with each unit, the instructor will provide a bibliography from which students may choose to supplement the course readings.

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.