LIBR 202-16
Information Retrieval
Spring 2013 Greensheet

Nancy MacKay
Office hours: By e-mail
Location: Oakland, California

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This is an online class, with two synchronous/asynchronous Collaborate meetings. The course will be administered through D2L educational software, and registered students are automatically enrolled. The course site will open a few days before class begins so students can get acquainted with the course site and with each other. Coursework begins on the first day of class,  Wednesday, January 23.  Instructor will communicate with students through MySJSU prior to the beginning of class.

NOTE: This is an intensive format section, running for seven weeks from January 23-March 13. The course content is the same as the semester long version, and is subject to the same rigor and requirements. Students should be prepared to spend 3-6 hours of homework per day.

Course Description

General Description
This course is a survey of the principles of information retrieval and their application to information systems and services, with emphasis on models of user behavior, human information processing and their relationship to retrieval models in information systems.

Section specific description
The principles of information organization and retrieval apply to almost every aspect of library and information science, as well as to modern life. This section will take a practical approach to the subject, with emphasis on applying information retrieval principles to current jobs and everyday life as well as library science.

We will study the three major components of an information retrieval system and how they interact to meet the needs of the user. First, we look at data structures and how information can be broken down and manipulated. Next, we look at how language works in information retrieval, both through natural language and structured vocabularies.  Finally, we study information retrieval systems from the user's point of view by looking at search engines, user interfaces, and user behavior.

This section emphasizes  class participation. Students are expected to share ideas and real life experience as they apply to the principles we study.

Course Requirements

Complete LIBR 203: Online Social Networking: Technology and Tools 
This is a mandatory 1 unit course that introduces students to the various e-learning tools used in the SLIS program, including ANGEL, Elluminate and Second Life. This course must be completed by all new SLIS students within the first 4 weeks of their first semester. If you have questions about this course, e-mail Debbie Faires or Dale David.

For more information, see

Collaborate training

This database program is required for a major class assignment. Students  must make sure their computers are equipped to use DBTextworks, no exceptions. Read instructions at

General Expectations
Course work consists of written lectures, readings, online discussions and exercises, two big assignments, one smaller assignment, and a midterm. Though the class is designed to support a variety of learning styles, collaboration and sharing ideas is expected.

Students must be comfortable with the technology at SLIS, in particular, Collaborate online meetings, DBTextWorks,  D2L, Microsoft Word, and Excel. APA style is required for the research paper.

Students are assigned to groups for study and support, but all assignments are completed individually.

Incompletes will not be given and late assignments are not accepted except in extreme cases, and only with prior  consent of the instructor.


  1. Introduction to Information and Information Retrieval
  2. The Nature of Information: Organization, Representation, Description
  3. Access to Information: Classification, Indexing, Subject Access
  4. Data Structures and Databases
  5. The Role of Language in Information Retrieval: Controlled Vocabularies, Natural Language
  6. Library Applications In Information Retrieval
  7. Searching
  8. The Information User
  9. Evaluating Information Retrieval Systems


  1. Data structures. (15 points) Students will create a simple data structure based on the table of attributes and values from a previous exercise. SLO-#1, #2
  2. Database. (30 points) Students will design and create a database including data structures, rules for data entry and indexing, as well as practice with controlled vocabulary and natural language descriptors. Emphasis will be on designing a database suited to the needs of a defined user group. SLO-#2, #3, #4
  3. Research paper.  (25 points)  Students make an in depth study of an  information system and based on all the material  we’ve learned in class. The paper will consist of description, analysis, and comparison of an information system of the student's choice. SLO-#4, #5, #6
  4. Midterm. (15 points)  This midterm will test students' understanding of fundamental terms and concepts learned in the first half of the course. SLO-#1, #5

Graded Exercises

  1. Information retrieval from the user’s perspective (5 points) Students will practice and evaluate three information retrieval settings from a user's point of view, without the fore-knowledge of the principles we learn during the semester. SLO-#6
  2. Describing Information (5 points). Students will analyze a small collection of images and create a table of attributes and values. SLO-#7
  3. Weinberger discussion (1 point).  SLO #5
  4. Categories exercise (1 point).  SLO #7
  5. Classification exercise (1 point). SLO #7
  6. Draft Data Structure, Assignment 1 (1 point) SLO #1, #2
  7. Draft Data Structure, Assignment 2 (1 point) SLO #1, #2
  8. Searching exercise (1 point). SLO #3, #4

Online Collaborate Meetings
There are two required Collaborate meetings for this intensive class. The first is a course orientation on Wednesday, January 23 at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. The second is a midterm review tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, February 20 at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Live attendance is recommended but meetings will be recorded for those who can't make it. Additional meetings will be scheduled as needed.

Other Requirements

  • Graduate level writing skills
  • Access to a brick and mortar library
  • Reliable Internet connection
  • Computer competency
  • Ability to meet the demands of an intensive format course

Course Calendar
This is an intensive course format where sixteen weeks of content is collapsed into seven weeks. Our course week will run from Wednesday through Tuesday, with a mid-week update on the week-end. A detailed calendar will be available on our D2L course site.

See Assignments section above.

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 has no prerequisite requirements.

Student Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Define metadata, both structure and representation, and identify standards such as the MARC record, LC Classification, Dublin Core, and NISO 39.19.
  2. Create a user model, articulate the information needs of the intended users, and design a database information retrieval system to meet those needs.
  3. Use Boolean logic to query the databases they create as class projects. with effective searches in both natural language and controlled vocabulary fields
  4. Evaluate a database information retrieval system, including its indexing, using standard measures such as recall and precision.
  5. Articulate fundamental concepts of information-seeking behavior and their application in the design and evaluation of systems.
  6. Explain basic principles of good interface design and be able to evaluate interfaces using those principles.
  7. Define terms reflecting fundamental concepts of information retrieval, apply them in analyses of their projects, and use them in class discussions.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

LIBR 202 supports the following core competencies:

  1. E Design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems.
  2. G Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information, including classification, cataloging, metadata, or other systems.
  3. J Describe the fundamental concepts of information-seeking behaviors.


Required Textbooks:

  • Taylor, A. G. & Joudrey, D. N. (2009). Organization of information 3rd ed. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 159158700X. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Weinberger, D. (2008). Everything is miscellaneous: the power of the new digital disorder. New York: Holt Paperbacks. Available through Amazon: 0805088113. 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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