INFO 232-11
Issues in Public Libraries
Fall 2016 Syllabus

Dr. Ruphina N Ozoh
Other contact information: (678-860-4730)
Telephone appointment scheduled as needed.

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 24th, 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.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

INFO 232 will investigate issues that impact the functioning of public libraries. Topics covered include a historical background of public libraries in the United States, issues related to social and political environments, standards, planning, administration and staffing, problem patrons, adult and youth services, collections, physical settings, budgets and financing, technology, marketing and outreach, advocacy groups and trends in the public library sector.

Course Requirements

Students will be required to submit three (3) papers for this course. Specifically, there will be a total of two (2) site visit reports and one (1) research paper. 

  • Site Visits
    The purpose of the site visits is to offer students practical experience on some of the important concepts that will be learned in class.  The library visits will lead to a better understanding of the operations, services and general management of the public library.

    • Site Visit #1

      LIBRARY OBSERVATION AND INTERVIEW: For this project, you are required to visit a public library to interview one management staff and at least one other staff in any department of your choice.  The focus of the interview will be on the daily operations and challenges those library staff encounter when performing their duties.  This site visit will provide practical experience into some of the key concepts that are necessary for public library work.  It will lead to a better understanding of the operations, services and management of public libraries.


      If you currently work in a public library, it is alright to use that library for this project.  However, do not interview library staff that work in the same department that you work in.  In effect, if you work in a public library, you can observe and interview staff members that work in other departments of the same library or other branches of the same library system.

      At least 5 articles from academically reputable journals and other materials that you can find should be synthesized with the information gathered from library staff.  All sources used should be noted in your bibliography using the APA format.  This paper should be 5-10 pages (double line spacing) long.  Do not submit more than 10 pages. This will be a general observation of a public library with an interview of one management staff and at least one other staff member in any department of that library. The focus of the interview will be on the daily operations and the challenges that those staff members face in their libraries. Supports CLO #2, #4, #6, #11

    • Site Visit #2

      FRESH EYES EXERCISE: This will be an observation and critical analysis of a particular service, program or department of a public library.  Students will be expected to analyze their findings and offer constructive positive and/or negative feedback in a report.

      You are required to visit a public library in a different county, state or better still country for this project.  Observe and compare a particular service, program or department of the selected library to the one in your local library or place of employment.  At the end of the observation, you will be required to critique and present your findings in a report that could be shared with the branch managers of the library visited and the library you work in or use.

      The idea of this project is that you use your fresh eyes as a visitor/newcomer to delineate negative and/or positive practices of the library visited, and to state how your findings could be used to effect changes in that library or your local library.  The information gathered could potentially help both libraries to improve external or internal customer services.


      You are not required to submit your findings to the branch managers.  Staff members can be interviewed if necessary.

      At least 5 articles from academically reputable journals and other materials you can find should be synthesized with your findings.  All sources used should be noted in your bibliography using the APA format.  This paper should be 5-10 pages (double line spacing) long.  Do not submit more than 10 pages. Supports CLO #4, #10, #11

  • Research Paper
    Students will select and write a paper on any of the many topics that will be covered in class (see topics under Course Calendar).


    Public library experience, observations as well as books and academically reputable journals should be used when writing these papers.

    Other specific details will be provided in the course room for the site visits and research paper.

The assignments will be graded based on the depth, quality and presentation of the papers.  A bibliography of sources consulted should be included for all assignments.

Discussion Forum
LIBR 232 will consist of weekly lectures and discussions, as comparable to the ones held in a traditional classroom. Lecture notes and discussion topics will be provided every week.  Videos will also be provided for certain units.  Participation in the discussion forum is mandatory, as it is a platform designed for all to exchange information gained from the textbook, scholarly materials, videos, as well as personal library experiences and observations. 

Students are required to respond to the weekly discussion topics with a minimum of 200 words.  Responses should be posted by the deadline noted for each unit. Also, students will be required to respond to at least two students for each unit.  While a specific length requirement when commenting on the postings made by other students will not be enforced, such responses must go beyond the "good job" or "I agree with that" type of messages. 

Comments made by students to each discussion topic will stimulate a classroom discussion and provide students the opportunity to interact and learn from one another.

Course Calendar
Subject to change with fair notice

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2: Public Libraries: An Overview
  • Week 3: Historical Background-United States
  • Week 4: Statistics, Standards, Planning
  • Week 5:Governance-Organizational, Legal and Funding Systems
  • Week 6: Administration and Staffing
  • Week 7: Problem Patrons
  • Week 8: Adult Services
  • Week 9: Youth Services
  • Week 10: Structures/Designs
  • Week 11:Technology
  • Week 12: Marketing and Outreach
  • Week 13: Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA)
  • Week 14: Professional Associations and Networks
  • Week 15: Current and Future Trends/Course Feedback

"Subject to change with fair notice"


Discussion Board 30% Weekly August 24-December 12
Site Visit 1 25% Friday, September 23
Site Visit 2 25% Friday, October 21
Research Paper 20% Friday, November 18


  • Discussions: Weekly discussion posts should be made within the assigned period only.  
  • Assignments: One point will be deducted each day that an assignment is submitted late.  Assignments submitted after 7 days will not be accepted. 

If there is any reason why you cannot meet a specific deadline noted for the weekly discussions and assignments, please let me know, so that you can be accommodated. This is a graduate program and students are expected to be responsible with regards to deadlines. Incompletes will be assigned for documented family or medical emergencies only. 

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 200

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Discuss factors influencing the historical development of public libraries, and consider their current and possible future roles.
  2. Describe public library governance: organizational and legal structures, political relationships, funding, and library board functions and responsibilities.
  3. Identify the reasons for and enumerate the steps involved in the planning process for public libraries.
  4. Create a model for evaluating public library effectiveness.
  5. Demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of marketing public library services and materials.
  6. Discuss basic concepts of fiscal management in public libraries.
  7. Examine and analyze technological issues related to public libraries.
  8. Describe ways to appropriately and legally deal with personnel and patron issues in a diverse society, and recognize the importance of training and written policies and procedures.
  9. Define key planning elements in constructing a new facility.
  10. Discuss various types of programming, outreach, services, and volunteer programs.
  11. Identify the unique challenges of working as a library professional in a public library setting.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 232 supports the following core competencies:

  1. A Demonstrate awareness of the ethics, values, and foundational principles of one of the information professions, and discuss the importance of intellectual freedom within that profession.
  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. I Use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information.


Required Textbooks:

  • McCook, K. (2011). Introduction to public librarianship. Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555706975arrow 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 or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — 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.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 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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