INFO 221-10
Government Information Sources
Fall 2015 Greensheet

John A. Shuler, Adjunct/Lecturer, San Jose State University
Associate Professor, Bibliographer for the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs; The Jane Addams College of Social Work, and Government Information/Documents Librarian
Research Services and Resources Department
Richard J. Daley Library, 801 South Morgan,
University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: 312.413.2594
Office hours: 
By appointment.  Appointments can be via telephone or online.

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 20, 6 am PDT 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 on the first day that the class meets. Course sites will close on February 28, 2016.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

Government information sources, their bibliographic organization, use in all types of libraries and information centers, issues of access, availability, dissemination, and preservation of federal, state, and local sources; and aspects of depository and non-depository collections. 

Slightly More Detailed Description of the Course

The course covers the fundamental aspects of practice and theory in how libraries collect, organize, and provide public services for government information. While it will focus on U.S. Federal government information, other levels of government will be included in the weekly discussions and assigments.

Over the last twenty-five years, traditional library services that sought to provid access to government information shifted from a universe of paper and print into a chaotic and dynamic digital interactive environment. As government information resources/services increasingly become more directly available to individuals via Internet-enabled technologies, the librarianship practices associated with collection and organization of government information must evolve as well. This requires current and future librarians to undo, relearn and rethink nearly 100 years of practice and traditional techniques on they can continue to provid these vital civic resources. As well as what are the best institutional practices going forward into this brave new digital world.

All types of libraries have contributed to these traditions of civic engagement, advocacy and public information mediation. Whether working through official depositories of government information or not, government information librarians provide remarkable systems of practice and technique that can identify, locate and make accessible thousands of government information resources. And they will contine to build on these foundations through research, service and practice to sustain that vital civic knowledge about their governments (local, state, regional, national.)

This course seeks to provide students with a clear understanding about this changing professional environment. They will discuss, examine, and build effective skills that can be applied inside and out of library organizations.  Part of this skill set will involve learning how to create -- and maintain -- the appropriate level of government information services and collections that match the needs of particular communities. It will also emphasize the related social media tools that now dominate the delivery of that same knowledge: email, chat, twitter, virtual community spaces, and other social networking approaches.

In order to deepen their grasp of these practices, students will also study specific government information librarian techniques and theories. These will prepare students to take on challenges created by the internet’s rapidly shifting formats and distribution schemes. Students will also grow to understand the fundamentals of policy and legislative research that are so necessary to finding government information sources in digital and paper environments.

General Structure of the Course

The course will be divided into several parts.

The first will consider the constitutional, policy and political strucutre of American government. This governmental structures are a democratic/republic form of representative electoral politics shaped by changing interpretations of the Constitutional powers and nearly two and half centuries of political partisan conflict. If one does not understand these basic processes, then one can not know where to look for government information.

The middle part of the course considers how particular federal agencies and other levels of government organize and distribute their information resources.

The last part will study the effects of e-government, digital public information resources, and the future of government information services and collections in all types of libraries.

Course Goals: At the end of the course students will be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of information science and policy study research methods; how to understand basic user information needs in terms of government information services and resources; be able to describe the government's information production and organizational structure; a basic grasp of the critical resources and services necessary for basic library services, as well as the selection policies related to government information services and collections in libraries.

Course Approach and Student Participation Expectations
As an online course with no regularly scheduled “class time, and to facilitate discussion and participation, there will be a regularly scheduled online "office hours" with the instructor and arranged through the University’s online course/conference systems.

The bulk of the class work will take place through weekly online discussions, the exchange of information between instructor and students through email, discussion boards, podcasts, and/or other media arranged through CANVAS.

It is imperative that every student participate in the weekly CANVAS class discussions about the assigned topics and readings. Part of the final grade will be based on the student's evident critical examination of course readings, finishing the assignments, and furthering aspects of the weekly topics through the discussions that clearly demonstrate a grasp and thoughtful analysis of the topics and issues in the course.

Assignments and Grading
The course grades will be based on four aspects/assignments of the course:

  • Assignment 1: Class Participation and Discussion -- throughout the semsester
    You are expected to read all of the assigned weekly readings, think through the issues they raise, and then articulate your thoughts on the materials through the assignments and class discussions. This includes both articles and examination of assigned websites. 
    • Course Learning Outcomes From Assignment:
      • The organizational, policy, and social contexts of how traditional and e-library services and the management of government resources/collections within libraries;
      • The critical laws, regulations and policies that govern the distribution and access of government information;
      • Fundamentals of the management practices, evaluation strategies, and techniques that measure the value and impact of effective government information services/collections in libraries
    Class participation will constitute 25% of your final grade.
  • Assignment 2: Government Information and E-government paper-- Due September 22nd, 2015
    You will write a four page critical summary of one article that relates directly to the topic of a weekly discussion The article must be taken from academic library or information policy journals. It will include an overview of the reading, the points it makes, how it relates to the topic of that week’s class session, and questions for discussion. You will support your analysis with specific citations from the appropriate assigned readings or other sources from the academic literature.
    • Course Learning Outcomes From Assignment: 
      • The critical laws, regulations and policies that govern the distribution and access of government information;
      • Fundamentals of the management practices, evaluation strategies, and techniques that measure the value and impact of effective government information services/collections in libraries
    The second assignment will constitute 15% of your final grade
  • Assignment 3: Evaluation of Government Information Library Services-- Due October 22nd, 2015
    Five page paper on how a particular library of your choice handles government information within their collections and services. The paper will include a brief description of the library and the community it serves. The majority of the paper should focus on comparing how well the library incorporates government information resources into its mission. Explore whether the library demonstrates innovative practices in how they deliver federal government information. You will support your analysis with specific citations from the appropriate assigned readings or other sources from the academic literature.
    • Course Learning Outcomes From Assignment:
      • The organizational, policy, and social contexts of how traditional and e-library services and the management of government resources/collections within libraries;
      • Fundamentals of the management practices, evaluation strategies, and techniques that measure the value and impact of effective government information services/collections in libraries
    The third assignment will constitute 20% of your final grade.
  • Assignment 4: Evaluation and comparison of 3 federal e-government websites of your choice -- Due December 1, 2015
    This 8 to 10-page evaluation paper will offer a detailed comparison of 3 federal e-government sites of your choice using an evaluation rubric that you design. In this course, the evaluation of e-government sites will be discussed extensively and multiple evaluation rubrics for e-government will be examined. For the final paper, you will create an evaluation rubric, drawing upon those examined in the course and your own original ideas, and then will apply that rubric to 2-3 e-government sites that are appropriate. For example, you could create a rubric to evaluate sites for quality of agricultural information or for level of openness and transparency or for how accessible they are to persons with disabilities. Your evaluation rubric must have defined criteria (detailed in the paper) that you apply to each site. The three sites should be individually evaluated in terms of these criteria. Then, you should compare and contrast the sites in terms of how each fared in the evaluation and analyze the reasons for success and failure of the sites, including identification of features that directly affected evaluation scores. You will pay particular attention on how the effectivenss of web sites effectiveness are enhanced (or hampered) by accessibility through libraries. You will support your analysis with specific citations from the appropriate assigned readings or other sources from the academic literature.
    • Course Learning Outcomes From Assignment:
      • The organizational, policy, and social contexts of how traditional and e-library services and the management of government resources/collections within libraries;
      • The critical laws, regulations and policies that govern the distribution and access of government information;
      • Fundamentals of the management practices, evaluation strategies, and techniques that measure the value and impact of effective government information services/collections in libraries
    The fourth assignment will constitute 40% of your final grade.

Assignment Guidelines and Bibliographic Structure
Each of the written assignments should be double-spaced, using 12-point Times New Roman font. The margins should be 1 inch exactly on each side. Citations to the appropriate assigned readings or from the academic literature that support your analysis —both in the text and in the list of references section—must conform to the most recent University of Chicago style manual. Pages will be numbered and formatted in a consistent fashion.

Papers will be submitted in digital form through CANVAS by 11:59pm (Pacific Time Zone) on the due date.

Class Environment and Discussions
As a graduate seminar that is online and asynchronus, the contributions to discussions should be professional and respectful of others. Discussions should be based on course readings and critical thinking. Remember--your classmates may have different perspectives on issues than you, but they still deserve your respect.

Weekly Class Discussion Topics

  •  Course Introduction
    •  Classes Begin: August 20, 2015
  • Part One: The U.S. Federal/State Governments and and their information resources
    • Week 2: August 24, 2015
    • Week 3: August 31, 2015
    • Week 4: September 7, 2015
    •  Week 5: September 14, 2015
  • Part Two: Discovery, Access and Organization of Federal/State/International Government Information Resources
    •  Week 6: September 21, 2015
    • Week 7: September 28, 2015
    • Week 8: October 5, 2015
    • Week 9: October 12, 2015 
      • Understanding State and Local Information Sources
    •  Week 10: October 19, 2015
      •  Understanding International, Foreign, and Other “Public” Information Sources
  • Part Three: E-Government Information Resources
    •  Week 11: October 26, 2015
      • EVALUATING Government Digital WEB Resources in general
    • Week 12: November 2, 2015
    • Week 13: November 9, 2015
    •  Week 14: November 16, 2015
      • The Future of Depository and Depository Agreements in the Age of E-Government
    • Thanksgiving Holiday: November 26-27 2015
  • Part Four: Evolution: Civic Librarianship and the Ongoing Paradigm Shift
    •  Week 15: November 30, 2015 
    • Week 16: December 7, 2015

Assigned Readings (partial; others will be cited during the weekly course discussions):

  • Gawande, Atul. "Big med." The New Yorker 20 (2012): 53-63.
  • Gil, Yolanda, and Donovan Artz. "Towards content trust of web resources."Web Semantics: Science, Services and Agents on the World Wide Web 5, no. 4 (2011).
  • Jaeger, Paul T., Natalie N. Greene, John Carlo Bertot, Natalie Perkins, and Emily E. Wahl. "The co-evolution of e-government and public libraries: Technologies, access, education, and partnerships." Library & Information Science Research 34, no. 4 (2012): 271-281.
  • Jaeger, Paul T., John Carlo Bertot, and John A. Shuler. "The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), academic libraries, and access to government information." The journal of academic librarianship 36, no. 6 (2010): 469-478.
  • Luna-Reyes, Luis Felipe, J. Ramon Gil-Garcia, and Georgina Romero. "Towards a multidimensional model for evaluating electronic government: Proposing a more comprehensive and integrative perspective." Government Information Quarterly 29, no. 3 (2012): 324-334.
  • Shuler, John A., Paul T. Jaeger, and John Carlo Bertot. "Implications of harmonizing the future of the federal depository library program within e-government principles and policies." Government Information Quarterly 27, no. 1 (2010): 9-16.
  • Shuler, John A. "Civic librarianship: Possible new role for depository libraries in the next century?." Journal of Government Information 23, no. 4 (1996): 419-425.
  • Sutton, Rebecca. "Working Paper 118–The Policy Process: An Overview."Overseas Development Institute. London (1999).

Syllabus Change Policy
This syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advance notice. 

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

INFO 221 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of how government information sources are organized and used.
  2. Delineate the significance and value of government information sources.
  3. Articulate the issues and trends that affect access, availability, dissemination, and use of government sources.
  4. Recognize, understand, and use government sources, both traditional and electronic.
  5. Analyze and answer government information requests, and evaluate when and where to refer questions they cannot answer.
  6. Develop best practices and methods for discovering government information on a variety of topics.
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the dynamic landscape surrounding digital government information and e-government.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 221 supports the following core competencies:

  1. B Describe and compare organizational settings in which information professionals practice.
  2. H Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.


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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