LIBR 210-10
LIBR 210-11
Reference and Information Services
Fall 2013 Greensheet

Michelle Holschuh Simmons, Ph.D.
Phone: (336) 854-3034
BbIM: michelle.simmons1
Office Hours: Virtually via weekly Collaborate sessions (see D2L for schedule), by e-mail, by BbIM, and by phone

Greensheet Links
iSchool eBookstore

The class' D2L site will automatically open on Wednesday, August 21.  Please log in no later than Friday, August 23.

Course Description

Catalog description: A process-oriented examination of how information professionals answer reference questions. The interpersonal skills required for effective question negotiation and the sources with which questions are answered are stressed.

Detailed description: This course is designed to introduce you to the world of reference and information services.  We will explore various methods and models of information service delivery, examine and evaluate key information sources of various types and formats, and discuss vital issues and emerging trends in reference and information delivery.  Topics will include:

  • The history of reference service
  • Information seeking behavior
  • The reference process (including the reference interview)
  • Evaluation of reference interactions
  • Information sources and their use (including effective search strategies)
  • Collection and evaluation of reference sources (both print and electronic)
  • Reference service to diverse populations
  • The role of instruction in reference service
  • Reference ethics and reference policies
  • Trends in reference and information services

Course Requirements

Mode of instruction
This course will be entirely asynchronous. We will use D2L for online discussions, for the submission of assignments, and for accessing readings and course materials.  Attendance at the synchronous office hour in Collaborate is optional; the office hour is intended for me to answer students’ questions, for students to get to know me and each other, and for students who would prefer to interact in a synchronous environment. If students ask questions during the office hour from which I believe the rest of the class will benefit, I will post the question and my response to our D2L site.

For due dates, detailed requirements, and grading rubrics for each of the assignments, please see documents in D2L.

  • Transcript analysis
    Your understanding of reference work will be enhanced if you are able to connect the theory that we discuss and read about in class with the real-world practice. Therefore, in groups, you will review transcripts from actual reference interactions, analyze based on established criteria, and write an analysis in which you apply published literature. Please see the Transcript Analysis assignment sheet in D2L for detailed information and a grading rubric. Supports  SLO #3 and SLO #6 (15% of total grade) 
  • Reference interview exercise and reflection
    Experiencing an actual reference interaction both from the librarian's perspective and the patron's perspective will give you a view of reference work from both sides of the desk, so to speak. In this assignment, you will work with a partner to role-play two reference interactions, one from each perspective. Afterwards you will individually analyze both transcripts, applying criteria and reflecting on your experience in both roles. Supports SLO #2SLO #3, and SLO #6 (20% of total grade)
  • Exercises and GoogleDoc
    You will complete exercises designed to give you practical experience examining and using some of the reference sources and search techniques we are studying. Additionally, we will have a class GoogleDoc on which all members of the class will contribute annotations for important reference resources. Please see more detailed information about these exercises in D2L. N.B. You will need to have access to a print reference collection (a large public or an academic library) in order to complete these exercises. Online sources may be used, but they will not be sufficient for all questions. Supports SLO #1 and SLO #2 (25% of total grade) 
  • Research guide
    Being a reference librarian requires one to understand your patrons’ information needs and help them locate appropriate resources. In order to hone these skills, you will create a research guide designed to assist a user with a particular information need. In addition to the research guide, you will be submitting an accompanying document in which you will discuss the research challenges with this particular topic, explain your selection criteria, and annotate the sources. Please see the Research Guide Assignment sheet in D2L for detailed information and a grading rubric. Supports SLO #4 and SLO #7 (25% of total grade) 
  • Online discussions: Because this class is entirely asynchronous, the online discussions are an integral part of this course. These will be structured, and participation is mandatory. For each week’s class material, one substantive, thoughtful initial post and one response to another person's posts are required. Please see the online discussion expectations sheet in D2L for detailed information. Supports SLO #5 and SLO #8 (15% of total grade)

Please keep in mind that individual assignments may support additional core competencies, and students can and should use any and all of the course assignments (including discussion posts) as artifacts for their e-Portfolio.

Course calendar
A course calendar will be available in the course D2L site at the start of the semester.

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.


No Textbooks For This Course.

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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