LIBR 281-14
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: Examination of Global Library Issues Using Project-Based Learning
Spring 2015 Greensheet

Melanie Sellar
Office location:
 No physical office; online through Canvas
Office Hours:  By appointment 

Greensheet Links

Canvas Login and Tutorials


Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 22nd, 12:01am PST unless you are taking an intensive or a one unit or two unit class that starts on a different day. In that case the class will open at 12:01am PST on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

Combines classroom study with project based learning. Examine select issues affecting global libraries in under-served communities with an emphasis on a community context of Librarians Without Borders (LWB). Design and deliver a collaborative project supporting an LWB community need.

Course Requirements


This course will use the experiential pedagogy of project-based learning to examine select issues affecting global libraries within a specific community context of Librarians Without Borders (LWB). Project-based learning is a pedagogical approach that challenges students to learn through engagement in a real problem.

The early weeks of the course will establish a conceptual foundation and then students will undertake small team investigations of a specific issue by working through the following stages: define the issues, gather information, and “solve” the problem. The team’s ultimate goal is to formulate and deliver recommendations, solutions, or next steps for LWB and the community.  

There are three categories of assignments: participation, individual writing, and team project.

Note: there are a number of mechanisms built into the team project to help ensure the productivity of all team members and to ensure that a student will not be penalized for an under-performing team member. 

Participation (10 points total) 

  1. Discussion: introduction icebreaker (0 pts) 
  2. Discussion: commentary on issues of interest (0 pts) (SLO 1 & 3, Comp C)
  3. Meeting: attendance at synchronous class meeting (5 pts)
  4. Meeting: instructor observations at team meeting (5 pts) (SLO 1 & 2, Comp C & D)

Individual Writing (60 points total)

  1. Blog post #1: response to background readings (20 pts) (SLO 1 & 3, Comp C)
  2. Blog post #2: analysis of a course of action (30 pts) (SLO 3 & 4, Comp C & D)
  3. Blog post #3: connect international work to local (10 pts) (SLO 1, Comp D)

Team Project (180 points total)

  1. Action plan and team contract (10 pts) (SLO 2, Comp D)
  2. Team peer evaluation #1 (10 pts) (SLO 2)
  3. In-progress draft of solutions (40 pts) (SLO 3 & 4, Comp C & D)
  4. Final report (with individual contributions noted) (60 pts) (SLO 4, Comp C & O)
  5. Team presentation to LWB Executive, program partners (20 pts) (SLO 4, Comp O)

*The points assigned to particular assignments are subject to slight revisions prior to course launch.* 

Course Calendar

*Subject to change with fair notice*

Week Main Activity Assignment
1 Course orientation

Intro to Guatemala: history, education, libraries; focus on marginalized populations

Introduction / icebreaker via discussion forum
2 Continuing intro to Guatemala libraries– focus on specific issues

Introduction to range of potential issues relating to LWB’s Guatemala partner communities.

Formation of teams and selection of team issue.

Readings on asset-based community development

Synchronous class meeting
Blog Entry #1: Response to readings / videos of Week 1

Participation: Students discuss interest in certain issues (for the purpose of team formation) before the synchronous class meeting.

Participation: attendance at synchronous class meeting
3 Project work begins:

stage one (defining the issues) and stage two (gathering information)
Project: Action plan and team contract submitted. The initial team meeting must have taken place with discussions and documentation of questions to be investigated, action plan with deadlines set, and team roles defined for stage two. A list of scheduled team meetings submitted with plan/contract.

Project: Individuals submit brief evaluation form on participation/contribution of other team members to stage one.
4 Project work continues:

stage two (gathering information)

Instructor attends a team meeting
Participation: instructor evaluates individual contributions in meeting
5 Project work continues:

stage three (solving problems)

Continued: instructor attends a team meeting
Blog Entry 2: Individual analysis / commentary on a potential course of action

Project: Team shares draft, dynamic document of stage three ideas.
6 Project work continues:

stage three (solving problems)

Discuss and action upon instructor feedback of draft
Blog Entry #3: Connection of international work to local context
7 Continue to work on project Project: Final team report submitted, with separate form that breaks out contributions of each team member.
8 Team presentations to authentic audiences Project: Team Presentation

Project: Peer evaluation of individual team members’ contributions to project


The team project is an important part of the course. To promote an individual's performance on the team and ensure individual accountability, assessments of the individual on the team are built into the grades. This includes peer evaluations, individual blogs, and clear annotation of who contributed what to team deliverables. 

*Subject to change with fair notice*

Category Assignment Evaluation/Grading
1. Participation a. Discussion forum: introduction icebreaker 0 points
(10 pts total) b. Discussion forum: commentary on issues of interest 0 points
  c. Meeting: attendance at synchronous class meeting 5 points
  d. Meeting: instructor observations at team meeting 5 points
2. Individual Writing a. Blog post #1: response to background readings 20 points
(60 pts total) b. Blog post #2: analysis of a course of action 30 points
  c. Blog post #3: connect international work to local 10 points
3. Team Project a. Action plan and team contract 10 points
(180 pts total) b. Team peer evaluation #1 10 points
  c. In-progress draft of solutions 40 points
  d. Final report (with individual contributions noted) 60 points
  e. Team presentation 40 points
  f. Team peer evaluation #2 20 points

Total possible points: 250

Rubrics and peer evaluation forms will be provided in advance by the instructor.

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 200, LIBR 202, LIBR 204, Other prerequisites may be added depending on content

Student Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Develop detailed project plans collaboratively and effectively with a team, and then execute those plans collegially and thoughtfully with that team.
  2. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of a chosen library issue (generated authentically from the needs of an LWB partner community) by sourcing, evaluating, and synthesizing information to develop a coherent, accurate background paper as part of the final team project.
  3. Analyze the information synthesized on that issue to develop a community-focused, highly contextualized, and realistic set of recommendations/solutions/products for LWB and the partner community.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

LIBR 281 supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Recognize and describe cultural and economic diversity in the clientele of libraries or information organizations.
  2. D Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.
  3. O Contribute to the cultural, economic, educational and social well-being of our global communities.


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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