INFO 256-10
Archives and Manuscripts
Fall 2016 Syllabus

Erin Lawrimore
Contact information:
Contact via e-mail or Canvas; telephone or Collaborate appointments can be arranged

Syllabus Links
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 22nd, 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

An introduction to the theory and practice of managing archival documents, such as personal papers, institutional records, photographs, electronic records, and other unpublished material. Topics covered include manuscript and records acquisition and appraisal, arrangement and description, conservation and preservation, reference and access.

In addition to basic theory and practice, students will be introduced to the variety of types of archival institutions, both in the United States and abroad.

This course will take place completely online via Canvas, with weekly participation on the discussion boards required.

Course Requirements

All assignments should be submitted electronically through the assignment’s dropbox on Canvas.

  1. Archives tour assignment (Supports CLO #1, CLO #2, and CLO #5) – 15 points (due September 11)
    Students should arrange a tour of an archival facility. A short summary (3-5 pages) outlining the trip will be shared with classmates on Canvas. The summary should include basic information about the repository, its mission, its collections, its staffing, and its researchers. Students unable to tour a facility will be given an alternative assignment.
  2. Arrangement and description project (Supports CLO #1 and CLO #3) - 15 points (due October 9)
    A small archival collection will be scanned and made available through Canvas. Arrange these materials and create a complete finding aid for the collection using sample finding aids provided as a guide.
  3. Outreach essay (Supports CLO #1, CLO #2, and CLO #5) – 15 points (due October 30)
    Students will write a short (5-6 page) essay addressing a question related to archival outreach and communicating with a public audience. Additional details on the assignment (including the question you will be addressing) will be posted during the semester.
  4. Final exam (Supports CLO #1, CLO #2, CLO #3, CLO #4, and CLO #5) - 30 points (due Monday, December 12)
    The final exam will consist of discussion questions covering the breadth of material discussed in class. Students will create a succinct answer of no more than 5 pages to two questions utilizing course lecture notes and readings as well as outside materials deemed appropriate by the student. The exam questions will be distributed on November 28.
  5. Archives in the News post and discussion (Supports CLO #1, CLO #4, and CLO #5) - 10 points (post due by November 13; comments due by November 27 - either portion/both portions may be completed at any point during the semester up to the deadline)
    Students will find one recent news article that deal with archives or archival issues and post to the “Archives in the News” discussion board along with a 200+ word commentary that positions the news piece in our readings and discussions. The student will also make substantive comments (200+ words each) on at least two other posted articles.
  6. Participation in online discussions (Supports CLO #1, CLO #2, CLO #3, CLO #4, and CLO #5- 15 points (due weekly)
    Students are expected to participate in the weekly online discussions. Each week, two or three questions will be posted to the online forums to stimulate discussion. While the student need not address the initial question directly, each student is required to participate in the discussion by making (at least one) brief (minimum 200 words) yet thoughtful posting each week. Ideally, these postings will result in a conversation between the student and classmates, stimulated by the initial question but guided by student and instructor postings.
  7. EXTRA CREDIT (not required): Interview with an archivist (Supports CLO #2, CLO #4, and CLO #5) - 5 points - added to your final grade in the class (due no later than November 27, but may be turned in at any time during the semester)
    Students may conduct an interview with a professional archivist either by phone, in person, or by email. Then, the student should write an essay (5-7 pages) that might discuss the archivist’s professional background and development, his/her work responsibilities and activities, the type of work done and the types of materials collected by his/her repository, the archivist’s views on major professional issues, and/or the unique challenges faced by working at his/her repository. To provide the student with a breadth of experience in the archival profession, this archivist should be employed at an institution other than the one visited for assignment #1.

Further details on the assignments will be provided at least three weeks prior to the due date. All assignments are due on the date noted on the syllabus by midnight PST. Late assignments will be marked down 15% per day.

Optional (not required) Collaborate sessions will be held as needed as opportunities for students to ask questions about assignments, readings, and discussions in a synchronous manner. The dates of these optional sessions will be announced on the course site.

Course Calendar (note that the course week runs from Monday to Sunday)

This information is subject to change. Changes will be announced via Canvas.

Numerous articles and excerpts from books will be made available on Canvas. No textbooks are required.

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 200INFO 202INFO 204

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of basic archival principles and practices.
  2. Describe the variety of functions performed by archives and archivists, and the range of environments in which archival professionals work.
  3. Identify the issues involved in acquiring, processing, and making records available to researchers.
  4. Identify the similarities and differences between the roles of archivists and related information professionals.
  5. Define the challenges facing the archives profession today and in the future.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 256 supports the following core competencies:

  1. 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.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  3. G Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information such as classification and controlled vocabulary systems, cataloging systems, metadata schemas or other systems for making information accessible to a particular clientele.


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 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.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.