INFO 210-10
Reference and Information Services
Fall 2016 Syllabus

Rosanne Macek
Phone: (408)202-0099
Blackboard IM:
Office location:
 Campbell, California - Pacific Standard Time
Office Hours:
 Weekends by appointment

Syllabus Links
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 24, 6 am PT 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.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

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.

Additional Description
This course will introduce you to the exciting world of reference!  We will learn about the major roles of the reference librarian including answering questions, analyzing information sources, teaching information tools, and assisting users in finding good books to read.  Additional topics will include ethics, managing reference departments, evaluating reference services, reference for special populations, and we'll look ahead to what the future might hold for reference services.

Course Requirements

Course Structure
This course will be entirely asynchronous, using Canvas for all discussions and assignments.  We will follow the textbook fairly closely, with some additional readings to supplement the material in the book.  The course will consist of 14 weekly units, each starting on Monday with assignments due the following Sunday at noon.


Practice Questions - To help you learn about many of the standard sources used to answer reference questions, you will practice answering question using those sources.  Supports CLO#1, CLO#2.  20% of grade.

Readers' Advisory - To help you answer the question "Can you help me find a good book to read?" you will become familiar with some of the tools used in readers' advisory, analyze how the tools could be used, and determine strategies for answering this type of question.  Supports CLO#1, CLO#3.  15% of grade.

Information Literacy - To introduce you to the user instruction aspect of providing reference service, you will develop a short handout that details how to use an electronic resource such as the library catalog, a database, an eBook, or other electronic resource.  Supports CLO#4CLO#5CLO#7.  15% of grade.

Reference Observation - To introduce you to the reference interview in a real-world setting, you will observe reference transactions from both the user and reference librarian points of view and write a summary of what you learned.  Suports CLO#1, CLO#3, CLO#6.  25% of grade.

Future of Reference - To look ahead to the role of reference in a rapidly-changing world, you will read several recent articles about the future of reference and write a short paper describing your personal view of how you think reference service will need to evolve to support users in the future.  Supports CLO#4, CLO#5, CLO#6, CLO#8.  10% of grade.

Class Discussions - To help you process the course content, share ideas, and support your fellow classmates, you will post one analytical response to a question and respond thoughtfully to another posting for 11 of the 14 weeks of the semester.  To allow some flexibility for busy schedules you can take 1 week off from the 11 weeks of discussions.  Supports CLO#8.  15% of grade.

Course Calendar
Here is the detailed weekly calendar, subject to change with prior notice:

8/24 Orientation & Introductions View orientation and Canvas introduction videos and post personal introduction
8/29 Unit 1 - Intro to reference & the reference interview Chapters 1-2, ALA Code of Ethics, RUSA guidelines
9/2&4 Unit 1 - Assignments Discussion posts due Fri & Sun at noon
9/5 Unit 2 - Basic search techniques & the Internet as a research tool Chapters 3 & 13
9/9&11 Unit 2 - Assignments Discussion posts due Fri & Sun at noon
9/12 Unit 3 - Bibliographic resources & encyclopedias Chapters 4-5
9/16&18 Unit 3 - Assignments Discussion posts due Fri & Sun at noon; Practice questions due Sun at noon
9/19 Unit 4 - Ready reference & dictionaries

Chapters 6-7

9/25 Unit 4 - Assignments No discussion posts; Practice questions due Sun at noon
9/26 Unit 5 - Databases & health/law/business Chapters 8-9
10/2 Unit 5 - Assignments No discussion posts; Practice questions due Sun at noon
10/3 Unit 6 - Geography & Biography Chapter 10-11
10/7&9 Unit 6 - Assignments Discussion posts due Fri & Sun at noon; Practice questions due Sun at noon
10/10 Unit 7 - Government Chapters 12
10/16 Unit 7 - Assignments No discussion posts; Practice questions due Sun at noon
10/17 Unit 8 - Readers' Advisory Chapter 14
10/21&23 Unit 8 - Assignments Discussion posts due Fri & Sun at noon
10/24 Unit 9 - Special Populations Chapter 15 + additional readings
10/28&30 Unit 9 - Assignments Discussion posts due Fri & Sun at noon; Readers' Advisory Assignment due Sun at noon
10/31 Unit 10 - Ethics Chapter 18
11/4&6 Unit 10 - Assignments Discussion posts due Fri & Sun at noon
11/7 Unit 11 - Information Literacy Chapter 16
11/11&13 Unit 11 - Assignments Discussion posts due Fri & Sun at noon; Info literacy assignment due Sun at noon
11/14 Unit 12 - Selecting & Managing Chapter 17 & 19
11/18&20 Unit 12 - Assignments Discussion posts due Fri & Sun at noon
11/21 HAPPY THANKSGIVING No assignments due this week
11/28 Unit 13 - Assessing Chapter 20
12/4 Unit 13 - Assignments No discussion posts; Reference observation assignment due Sun at noon
12/5 Unit 14 - Future of reference Chapter 21-22
12/9&11 Unit 14 - Assignments Discussion posts due Fri & Sun at noon
12/12 Last day of instruction; finals begin  
12/18 Final Assignment Future of reference assignment due Sunday at noon

Other Relevant Information
Each unit will run Monday through Sunday aat noon. Assignments are due Sundays at noon and discussion posts due on Fridays and Sundays at noon. Additional readings will be assigned throughout the semester to supplement the textbook.  I appreciate that we are all busy people so you will be posting to 10 of the possible 11 discussions, allowing you some flexibility when needed.  There will be an automatic 15% reduction in the grade for any assignments that are turned in late. No assignments will be accepted past one week overdue. Late submittals for the practice reference questions cannot be accepted because I send answers and sources immediately after assignments are due.

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 202

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Investigate the current issues in managing reference departments and evaluating reference staff and various types of reference services.
  2. Identify and assess the characteristics and functions of various types of reference sources.
  3. Explore outreach and marketing roles of reference librarians.
  4. Describe current issues and trends on reference departments, including the impact of technology on marketing, outreach, management, and evaluation.
  5. Evaluate reference outreach, marketing, and advocacy services that address the needs of a diverse and changing society.
  6. Use appropriate collection development tools for selecting and evaluating reference sources.
  7. Describe the relationship between information needs, collection development policies, and the evaluation of reference collections.
  8. Describe current issues and trends in selecting appropriate reference sources.
  9. Evaluate reference sources that address the needs of a diverse and changing society.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 210 supports the following core competencies:

  1. D Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  3. I Use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information.
  4. N Evaluate programs and services using measurable criteria.


Required Textbooks:

  • Cassell, K. A., & Hiremath, U. (2013). Reference and information services: An introduction (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Neal Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555708595arrow 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 or Informatics) — 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 if you wish to stay in the program. 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

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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