LIBR 281-13
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: International and Comparative Librarianship
Fall 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 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

This course will provide students with a broad understanding of international library activities and practices, with a particular focus on traditional libraries (public, school, community, and academic libraries) in non-North American settings. In the spirit of critical library practice, students will be asked to employ a critical mindset to all of the class discussions and assignments. 

Course Requirements

In this course we will both study international librarianship and engage in international librarianship ourselves. The learning activities and assignments support both of these goals. The studying part is likely most familiar to you as students. How will we engage in international librarianship, given the time boundaries of an academic semester?

For one, you will participate in the International Librarians Network (ILN) peer matching program. The application deadline is July 26, 2015. More information on the program can be found here. You will be matched with an international librarian, and then every two weeks converse with your match over email about a discussion topic published off the ILN website (like this one or this one). The topics range from rather fun to more serious. This will take likely 10-14 hours of work over the semester and you will be graded simply as complete/not complete.

Two, we will invite external audiences to join our guest speaker talks (should the guest speaker be willing). These talks will be posted through Librarians Without Borders’ social media channels. We are “doing” international librarianship by opening up professional dialog to span, ideally, many country borders.

Third, your written assignments are positioned as white papers. A white paper needs an audience; for this course, Librarians Without Borders (LWB) will be our theoretical audience. The white papers will have a particular focus (for example, international organizations, international issues, international country analysis), and will include a section where you suggest how LWB might support those areas (if at all). An orientation to LWB with an optional synchronous session will be provided. Instruction on writing white papers will also be provided.

Fourth, all students in the course will have the opportunity to pitch a blog post article to both ILN and LWB. IF your pitch is accepted, you will publish a piece relating to international librarianship under your name. This is a volunteer option available to you if you are interested, it is not a requirement.

Nature of Assignments
There are two categories of assignments: participation and individual writing. 

The participation category is comprised of four (4) types: peer match through the International Librarians Network (approximately 9 interactions), regular discussion forum participation (4), facilitating discussion forums (2), and the culminating discussion forum (1). 

There will be three (3) written assignments that will take the form of white papers. A white paper, in essence, is a kind of writing product that you can expect to write very frequently in your professional career. See this Wikipedia article for a definition. You will be provided with a template for writing the white paper, as well as some introduction into how one writes it. 

Professionalism of Discourse
The netiquette statement -- that is, expectations for how to communicate with peers -- will be published in the course. Students are expected to converse with their peers in discussion forums in adherence with this statement. Those who do not are subject to points deductions from their participation grades. 

Late Policy
Assignment late policy: 20% deduction per day, with assignment not accepted after 2 days. Discussion forum late policy: no late submissions accepted.

Course Calendar
*Subject to change with fair notice*

All modules will be published on the Sunday evening of each week, with the exception of Module 1 which will be published on Thursday, August 20. 

Course Calendar for LIBR 281-13 Fall 2015



Module Title

Main Focus


1 8/20-8/22 Course Overview

Orientation to syllabus and course structure. Students and instructor create video introductions via FlipGrid.

ILN Prompt 1 published.

2 8/23-8/29 Introduction to International Librarianship (IL)

What does it mean to do or study international librarianship, and why do we do it?


 Participation: Discussion Forum
3 8/30-9/5 Comparative Librarianship as a Methodology 

Overview of comparative librarianship as a methodology, including challenges and criticisms.

ILN Prompt 2 published

4 9/6-9/12 Critical Perspectives on IL

Builds upon conversations seeded in Module 3. Criticisms of IL, including influence of Western libraries and cultural imperialism.


 Participation: Discussion Forum
5 9/13-9/19 International Organizations 

Landscape of library (and library/information related) organizations supporting IL. 

Potential guest speaker recording on IFLA's Lyon Declaration re. United Nationa's new development agenda. 

ILN Prompt 3 published

6 9/20-9/26  NGOs in the International Space

Other IL actors: non-governmental organizations, their roles, activities, challenges.

Optional: synchronous web conference meeting with Librarians Without Borders.

 Participation: Discussion Forum
7 9/27-10/3 Assignment Week 

Students work on assignments

ILN Prompt 4 published

White Paper Assignment 1:

Analysis of International Organization(s) work on a given issue.

Due by 10/3 

8 10/4-10/10 Issue Spotlight: Indigenous Knowledge and Culture 

Modules 8-10 will spotlight issues of international attention. The primary learning material will be the guest speaker, with some light introduction and supporting readings. The guest speakers can serve as models for the kinds of questions that students should address for their own issue analysis in Assignment 2.

Overview and discussion of the inclusion of indigenous people and their knowledge, culture in international libraries.

Guest speaker: live and recorded.

Students will participate in 2 out of 3 issue spotlight discussion forums. 

Of these 2, each student will pick one forum to co-facilitate with their peers, which includes generating some questions for the speaker and leading the forum. 

9 10/11-10/17 Issue Spotlight: Open Access Initiatives 

Overview and discussion of open access initiatives internationally, including impact and ongoing challenges.

Guest speaker: live and recorded.

ILN Prompt 5 published.

10 10/18-10/24  Issue Spotlight: TBD

[The third issue spotlight and potential guest speaker still to be determined.]

Guest speaker: live and recorded.

11 10/25-10/31  Assignment Week

Students work on assignments

ILN Prompt 6 published

White Paper Assignment 2:

International Issue Analysis

Due by 10/31

12 11/1-11/7 Country Spotlight: Americas (likely Guatemala, Trinidad, or Argentina) 

Modules 12-14 will spotlight the library landscape in countries of various regions. The primary learning material will be the guest speaker, with some light introduction and supporting readings. The guest speakers can serve as models for the kinds of questions that students should address for their own country analysis in Assignment 3.

Guest speaker: live and recorded.

Students will participate in 2 out of 3 discussion forums. 

Of these 2, each student will pick one forum to co-facilitate with their peers, which includes generating some questions for the speaker and leading the forum.   
13 11/8-11/14 Country Spotlight: Asia (likely Bhutan) 

Guest speaker: live and recorded.

ILN Prompt 7 published.

14 11/15-11/21 Country Spotlight: Africa (likely Nigeria or Ghana) 

Guest speaker: live and recorded. 

15 11/22-11/28 Assignment Week 

Students work on assignments.

ILN Prompt 8 published.

White Paper Assignment 3: Country Profile and Analysis 

Due by 11/28

(posted to instructor and into the course)

16 11/30-12/5 Culminating Peer Read and Discussion Forum  Students will browse peers' country reports and pick one to discuss and compare with their own along some dimension. Culminating Discussion forum: comparison of countries.
17 12/6-12/8 Course Ends 12/8 ILN Prompt 9 published.  

*Subject to change with fair notice*
Rubrics will be provided in advance by the instructor for all assignments.



Supported CLOs

Grading (Points)

Participation International Librarians Network peer match conversations (approx 9)  3  15
  Discussion forum: regular (4)  1, 2, 5  20
  Discussion forum: facilitation (2)   1, 3, 4, 5  20
  Discussion forum: culminating (1)   1, 5  10
Individual Writing White Paper 1: Analysis of international organization(s) work on a given issue (e.g. trace a policy, standard, strategic initiative)  1, 2, 5  45
  White Paper 2: Analysis of an international issue with opportunity identification  1, 3, 5  50
  White Paper 3: Analysis of a given country’s library landscape with opportunity identification  1, 3, 4, 5  50
Total Possible Points   210

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 281 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the principles, concepts, and practices of international and comparative librarianship.
  2. Identify and critically assess the roles and contributions of professional organizations, intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental agencies working internationally.
  3. Discuss specific major issues facing libraries, library services and the library profession, both in multinational and local contexts.
  4. Analyze library services and systems, successes and challenges in other national library environments, within their historical, societal, and cultural contexts.
  5. Apply a critical mindset to international librarianship activities in order to impact their own praxis as future global librarians.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 281 supports the following core competencies:

  1. B Describe and compare organizational settings in which information professionals practice.
  2. C Recognize the diversity (such as cultural and economic) in the clientele and employees of an information organization and be familiar with actions the organization should take to address this diversity.
  3. D Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.
  4. O (for students entering from Spring 2015) identify ways in which information professionals can 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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