LIBR 210-02
LIBR 210-10
Reference and Information Services
Fall 2014 Greensheet

Todd Gilman
Office Location: Web
Phone: (203) 432-1761
Office Hours: M-F 9-5 EST

Greensheet Links
Course Materials
Course Requirements
Course Schedule
About your Instructor
Canvas Login and Tutorials
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This course will be available on Canvas on Monday August 25. You will be enrolled into the site automatically. The course runs from Monday August 25 to Wednesday December 10.

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.

Full Description
This course imparts core knowledge of reference and information services in a variety of environments, including: methods and models of information service delivery, basic tools for reference and information services, and emerging trends in reference and information delivery.

The major topics (in no particular order) are:

  • reference sources
  • the reference interview
  • search strategies
  • evaluation and management of reference collections (databases and websites)
  • reference service models (face-to-face versus electronic)
  • evaluation of reference services
  • collection development and management
  • serving special populations (international, minority, senior citizens, gay/lesbian, first-generation, etc.)
  • the history of reference services
  • management of reference services
  • what is a reference librarian?
  • the impact of technology
  • ethics in reference
  • reference standards

Intended for all interested students, though the focus will be mainly on academic library resources.

Course Requirements

Primary Requirements
The primary requirements for this course are:

  • Successfully completing assignments related to objectives listed above.  Participation during each unit in the form of asynchronous Threaded Discussion.
  • Reading assignment must be completed each week.  Readings not in the text book are provided through Canvas.

I shall evaluate ALL written work according to the following criteria in addition to the specific requirements for each assignment:

Quality of the presentation--neat and error-free

  • Quality of the writing--clear, direct, and correct
  • Quality of the organization--smooth, logical flow and content
  • Quality and amount of reflection, analysis, and evaluation

All papers must be typed, double spaced, with a font size of at least 12 points.  They must also conform to APA style. You should own a copy of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th edition (2001) or more recent.  For further information, see the iSchool APA Style Resources page.

Late Assignments
Let the instructor know in advance if you will be unable to participate during a given week.  Late assignments will be accepted up to five days past the deadline, with a penalty of 1 point (1% of course grade) per day. With an appropriate reason stated BEFORE the due date, students may be allowed additional time without penalty for UP TO THREE ASSIGNMENTS. I shall not accept any paper that is more than five days late.

Technical Requirements
You must have access to the following: Internet/World Wide Web access, Java-enabled Web browser, Microsoft Office (particularly Word), and Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.

You must be able to send and receive e-mail, including attachments. You should plan to check your e-mail and the Canvas course site regularly for announcements.
For more detailed information, consult the iSchool home computing environment page.

This course is run via Canvas. See tutorials here: Canvas Login and Tutorials

Office Hours
I shall have no specific online office hours, but shall be available to answer questions submitted either through the Canvas course site, or directly to me via e-mail. Please note that I am on Eastern Standard Time, and that you should expect to receive a reply to any questions within 48 hours of receipt. If you do not receive a reply to an email within 48 hours please call me at (203) 432-1761. While this rarely happens, it's possible your email got trapped in my spam filter and deleted. Any extended absences that might affect response time will be announced through the Canvas course site.

There are 100 possible points for this course, divided as follows:

4 Article Reviews [support SLO #4 and SLO #5] 5 points each x 4 (20 points total)
3 Exercises [i.e., sets of 10 reference questions each] [support SLO #2] 5 points each x 3 (15 points total)
2 Investigations [support SLO #6, SLO #3] 10 points each x 2 (20 points total)
2 Papers [support SLO #1, SLO #7, and SLO #8] 10 points and 20 points (30 points total)
ONTIME Participation in 15 threaded discussions
(ONTIME=by midnight of the last day of the Unit to which the discussion corresponds) [support SLO #8]
1 point each x 15 (15 points total)

Specific requirements for each assignment, including due dates, will be posted in the course site via Canvas.

EXTRA SPECIAL NOTE: Every semester students lose points by neglecting to double-check that their work has been submitted properly. DON'T LET THIS BE YOU!! To avoid disappointment, after you submit any work via Canvas, make sure you look at it once more from within the course site in Canvas, noting (1) that the file is visible; (2) that it opens correctly (no error messages); and (3) that it is the file you meant to upload. Do not rely on your instructor to catch these errors. This is YOUR responsibility.

Additional Information
Each student will:

  • assume responsibility for his/her learning
  • use the provided learning guides and resources; conduct data searches when necessary
  • manage his/her time effectively (plan a schedule and practice time management)
  • ask for assistance when needed; avoid unnecessary frustration and confusion
  • remain active in the Discussions and Email
  • prepare all work at graduate performance levels
  • enter each Unit beginning the date that Unit starts. He/she is then free to access that Unit as many times as he/she likes through the end of the course
  • follow good online etiquette

Please note:

  • You must have access to a “bricks and mortar” (i.e., physical, not just virtual) library that houses a standard collection of academic reference works.
  • I prefer not to use the Chat function for this course, though you are welcome to; formal interaction of the class as a whole will take the form of Discussions.
  • So that I am not inundated with email, please limit the number of emails you send me to two per week if possible. That means saving up questions, perhaps, for several days.
  • Plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the assignment in question (see more on plagiarism below). 

The instructor will:

  • provide assistance/knowledge in facilitating understanding of the course content
  • guide students through the course
  • facilitate discussion through questioning, probing, examples, etc.
  • provide feedback
  • maintain records
  • mark exams/assignments and maintain records within 15 working days
  • respond to messages on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Course Schedule

Unit Topic
1 Introduction to Reference and Information Services; Determining the Question
2 Reference 2.0; The Future of Information Service
3 Finding the Answer: Basic Search Techniques
4 When and How to Use the Internet as a Reference Tool
5 Reader's Advisory Work
6 Bibliographic Resources
7 Indexes and Full-Text Databases
8 Health, Legal, and Business Resources
9 Encyclopedias
10 Ready Reference Sources
11  Biographical Information Sources
12 Dictionaries
13 Geographical Information Sources
14 Government Information Sources
15 Information Literacy in the Reference Department; Assessing and Improving Reference Services

About your Instructor

Professor Gilman holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Toronto and an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in Boston. He is Librarian for Literature in English at Yale University Library (

Course Materials

Additional Readings
Additional course materials will be available through the Canvas course site.

Core Journals
You should be familiar with professional journals that explore reference and information service issues appropriate to this course, including:

  • College & Research Libraries (Z671 .C6)*
  • Journal of Academic Librarianship (Z671 .J58)*
  • Medical Reference Services Quarterly (R118.2 .M4)*
  • Public Libraries (Z673.A5 .P88)*
  • Reference & User Services Quarterly (Z671 .R7)*
  • The Reference Librarian (Z711 .R43x)*
  • Reference Services Review (Z1035.1 .R43)*

I have taken the call numbers above from the SJSU library catalog, but they should also help you locate materials, if available, at any academic library to which you have access. Titles marked with an asterisk (*) show electronic access through the SJSU Electronic Journals List.

Discussion Lists
Electronic discussion lists constitute an important part of professional dialogue and support for reference and information service librarians. All students in this class should subscribe to LIBREF-L, the largest electronic discussion list dedicated to issues in reference librarianship.

You will also find a variety of electronic discussion lists dedicated to specific subject areas (e.g., history librarianship), to specialized service areas often administered as part of reference and information service programs (e.g., instructional services), and to the use of information technology as a means of supporting reference and information services. You can see some of these lists in the "Webliography" section of the Canvas course site.

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. (2013). Reference and information services: An introduction (3rd ed.). Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555708595arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Cassell, K. A., & Hiremath, U. (2013). Reference and information services: An introduction (3rd ed.). Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555708595 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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