LIBR 210-12
Reference & Information Services
Fall 2013 Greensheet

Cheryl Stenström
Office Hours: By appointment via D2L

Greensheet Links
iSchool eBookstore

This course will be available on D2L on August 21. You will be automatically enrolled into the site.

Course 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.

Full Description
This course explores some of the foundations of providing reference service, as well as functions, processes, sources and their evaluation. In addition, several special topics will covered such as staffing models, management of print and electronic collections, investigation and evaluation of new services and other topics of interest.

Course Requirements

Course Format
As this is a Web-based course, all assignments for this class will be distributed via D2L. Please check your D2L email and the discussion board on a regular (preferably daily) basis. You may contact me via email, and I will make every effort to respond promptly (within 48 hours at the latest). Please note that I live in the Pacific time zone.

All assignments will be evaluated for thoroughness, analysis, creativity, and thoughtfulness. Points will be deducted for failure to use correct spelling, grammar, and composition. All assignments are to have a professional appearance, using consistent formatting and citing techniques. Consult the SLIS APA Style Resources page for further specifics. In addition to grades received on the assignments, active participation in online discussions throughout the semester will be graded (see the grading summary below). Due dates for assignments are firm. In exceptional circumstances, I can be contacted to negotiate an extension before the assignment due date.


  • Reports
    You will be asked to formally observe reference work and consciously participate in three different types of reference interactions (though you may wish to participate in any number of transactions of each type). You will submit a brief report on each of these experiences.
    Supports SLO #3, #6
  • Exercises
    You will complete a series of exercises designed to give you practical experience examining and using some of the reference sources and search techniques we are studying.
    Supports SLO #2
  • Database evaluation report
    You will compose a report evaluating an online database product using standard evaluation techniques. For this assignment, you will be working in small groups of four or five.
    Supports SLO #1
  • Bibliographic instruction package
    You will be asked to prepare a presentation package for a bibliographic instruction session (you will choose your topic at the beginning of the term). This will include any audio/visual/multimedia elements for the presentation, speaking notes or other guides for the presenter, an outline of the presentation format, supporting materials for participants including a bibliography or pathfinder on the specific subject area and any 'quick start' or user guides (these can be print or online). For this assignment, there are several components. You will be working in small groups of four or five, and peer and self assessment will be used.
    Supports SLO #4, #5, #7
  • Discussions
    A portion of the overall grade is allocated for class participation. For the purposes of this class, participation includes prompt and thoughtful contribution to online discussions, engagement with class activities, and a demonstration that you are making an effort to master the material covered in this course. During most weeks of the course, there will be a new discussion topic posted related to the course readings. You will be required to participate in a minimum of ten topics.
    Supports SLO #8

More details on the assignments will be provided in D2L.

Assignment % of final grade
Reports 15% (5% each)
Exercises 20% (5% each)
Database evaluation 10%
Instruction package 35%
Discussions 20% (2% each)

Course Calendar
The course is divided into two streams running more or less concurrently. Each week, an aspect of service will be explored along with a type of reference source or technique.

  • Unit 1 (Weeks 1 through 4, August 21-September 17): Background and overview/The reference interview
    • Introduction
    • Resources and searching
    • History and overview
    • Services and policies
    • Basic search techniques
    • The reference interview I
    • The reference interview II
    IMPORTANT DATES: Deadline for establishing working groups for instruction package and database evaluation report September 3; deadline for choosing instruction package subject area September 10
  • Unit 2 (Weeks 5 through 7, September 18-October 8): Reader's Advisory and user instruction/Sources, part 1
    • Reader's Advisory
    • User training and bibliographic instruction
    • Online user orientation
    • popular internet sources
    • bibliographies
    • encyclopedias
    IMPORTANT DATES: Report 1 (traditional reference encounter) due September 24; Exercise 1 due October 8
  • Unit 3 (Weeks 8 and 9, October 9-October 22): Working with users/Sources, part 2
    • Serving special populations
    • Working with children
    • ready-reference sources
    • dictionaries
    IMPORTANT DATES: Report 2 (email reference encounter) due October 15; deadline for posting instruction packages October 22
  • Unit 4 (Weeks 10 through 12, October 23-November 13): Management and evaluation/Sources, part 3
    • Managing the reference department
    • Selection and evaluation of sources
    • Assessing services
    • indexes
    • health, law and business sources
    • geographical sources
    IMPORTANT DATES: Exercise 2 due October 29; peer assessment of bibliographic instruction package due November 5; final (self) assessment of bibliographic instruction package due November 13
  • Unit 5 (Weeks 13 through 15, November 14-December 9): Special topics/Sources, part 4
    • Collaboration
    • Reference 2.0
    • The future of information service
    • biographies
    • government sources
    • additional sources
    IMPORTANT DATES: Exercise 3 due November 20; Database evaluation report due November 27; Exercise 4 and Report 3 (chat reference encounter) due December 9


  Topic Sources/Techniques Deadlines Due Date
Week 1
August 21
Introduction none none  
Week 2
August 28
Resources and searching Basic search techniques Establish working groups September 3
Week 3
September 4
History and overview Reference Interview I BI subject September 10
Week 4
September 11
Services and policies Reference Interview II none  
Week 5
September 18
Readers' Advisory popular internet sources Report 1 [5%] September 24
Week 6
September 25
User training (instruction) bibliographies none  
Week 7
October 2
Online user orientation encyclopedias Exercise 1 [5%] October 8
Week 8
October 9
Special populations ready-reference sources Report 2 [5%] October 15
Week 9
October 16
Working with children dictionaries Post BI packages October 22
Week 10
October 23
Managing reference indexes Exercise 2 [5%] October 29
Week 11
October 30
Evaluation health, law and business sources BI package (peer assessment) November 5
Week 12
November 6
Assessment geographical sources BI package (final assessment) [35%] November 13
Week 13
November 14
Collaboration biographies Exercise 3 [5%] November 20
Week 14
November 21
Reference 2.0 government sources Database evaluation report [10%] November 27
Week 15
December 2
Future services additional sources Exercise 4 [5%]/ Report 3 [5%] December 9

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.


Required Textbooks:

  • Cassell, K.A. & Hiremath, U. (2011). Reference and information services in the 21st century (2nd ed. revised). Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555707408. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Radford, M., Nelsen, K., & Ross, C. (2009). Conducting the reference interview: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians (2nd ed.). Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 155570655X. 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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