LIBR 230-01
Issues in Academic Libraries
Fall 2009  Greensheet

Professor Mary Martin

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ANGEL information: Students should self-enroll in the ANGEL Site for this course. The PIN will be sent to enrolled students via MySJSU.

Course Description

This course will investigate current issues that impact the planning and functioning of the academic library. Topics covered will include issues related to social and political environments, clientele, services, collections, physical settings, financing, staffing, and future trends in the academic library sector.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 200, 202, 204 required.

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes

This course will provide students with a framework within which they will be able to understand current issues relevant to Academic Libraries. It will assist in preparing them as professionals for participation in the structure and work environment of an Academic Library, and as members of the profession. The method will involve researching issues and fully exploring creative and alternative points of view.

Focus will be on broad issues that connect academic libraries with their parent institutions and with the wider worlds of scholarly communication, publishing, information technology, and higher education. Major components include personnel and staff development, governance and standards, collection management, networks and cooperation, administrative organization and services. Considerable attention will be given to the impact of new and emerging technologies and the structure, staffing, and management of academic libraries. Critical review of the literature, case studies, and written assignments will be required.

The main objective is to prepare the student for participation in the current Academic Library setting, where work is done primarily in committees or teams.

On completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the mission, goals, objectives, and functions of today's academic libraries;
  • Identify and discuss current issues and major areas of concern to academic libraries;
  • Appreciate the need for adequate planning for academic library services and be able to plan a specific service;
  • Discuss the major aspects of providing the range of traditional and innovative services being offered by academic libraries;
  • Establish criteria and methods for assessing academic community needs, for measuring and evaluating library effectiveness, and for promoting and financing services
  • Utilize critical thinking and problem-solving techniques in analyzing specific problem situations commonly encountered in academic libraries.
  • Understand the role of professional development in the academic library setting

LIBR 230 supports the following MLIS Core Competencies:

  • compare the environments and organizational settings in which library and information professionals practice;
  • recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use;
  • use service concepts, principles and techniques that facilitate information access, relevance, and accuracy for individuals or groups of users.

Course Requirements

There will be a topic of discussion each week with suggested readings, and students will be expected to read at least one of the articles and contribute to a discussion with their classmates about the topic.

***A “Getting to Know You” exercise is being added to the first week’s activities. It doesn’t require much work, just an active imagination. Please do it as an ice-breaker. The first formal assignment due date is being pushed ahead one week to accommodate the activity.

Getting to know you
As an icebreaker – each student will need to participate in this “Getting to know you” exercise. I have not done this virtually before so we’ll see how it goes.

  1. Post (to this student bulletin board for this class) a one paragraph summary description of who you are and why you are taking this class. Label the entry with your first name, last initial, and “bio”.
  2. List three things about yourself, two of which are true, and one that is false. This should be done by.
  3. Go ahead and read other’s posting and reply to those you would like to.
  4. Each student will post a response to the “guess” of the fellow student listed before them in the list. They should label the message “Guess at blank (name) of the person’s) false statement”.
  5. Try to be creative and/or amusing – but be somewhat plausible.
  6. Each student will reveal the answer (which statements were true – which one was false), by January 31. The message should be labeled “The truth about your name”

No one will be graded (of course) – but it will hopefully help us begin to know each other better as we will not be meeting face-to-face in this class.

This is more fun than you might think. I participated in an EMBA (Executive MBA) orientation program where they did this and it was fun.

Discussion topics include: General issues; library space issues; building [electronic] collections; recruitment, education, and retention of librarians; emerging personnel issues; team-based organizations vs. hierarchical organizations; copyright issues & scholarly publishing; technological considerations; competition from outside information providers; user-based library public services; reference and instruction services: training, communication, staffing 24/7; professional issues; strategic planning and future issues. I will usually post a brief introductory lecture for the week to serve as a “taking off” point for discussion.

**See the Issues in Academic Libraries Reading List to get the discussion topics and readings for each week’s assignment.


  • Assignment #1 Academic Library Issue
    1. Search WilsonWeb Library Literature for an article on a pressing issue of an academic library. Present a short summary of the article to your fellow students on the ANGEL Discussion Board by Monday August 31. Using the Case Study method describe an approach to addressing the issue through the strategic planning process by taking one aspect of the issue [problem, dilemma] and describing how a particular library strategy would be employed to accomplish a goal. I will post an example of this to the course module page. Post your findings on the assignment drop box on ANGEL (2-4 pages - Due Monday September 14.)
  • Assignment # 2 Interview with a librarian (preferably an administrator)
    2. Visit an academic library and interview an academic librarian. Ask them to think about a major issue facing academic libraries today. Summarize and report on your visit via the ANGEL Discussion Board to their fellow students. If the student is working in an academic library, the librarian interviewed should be from a department other than the one in which the student works. Turn in a summary of the interview along with contact information for the librarian interviewed. Identify one issue mentioned by the librarian interviewed and express a position on that issue. Cite (2) references to support your position. (2-4 pages – Due Monday September 21)
  • Assignment # 3 Position Paper
    3. Write a position paper chosen from one of the following topics
    • 1) Look at major issues facing libraries 10-20 years ago by reviewing library literature, and review literature for 2008-09 then discuss in a paper what (if any) differences there are. Cite at least one article from each time period.
    • 2) Choose a journal article reporting on research results of some aspect of research library services and describe what impact the results of the research might have on the service measured if changes are implemented
  • (3-5 pages Due Monday October 5)
  • Assignment # 4 Major Project Proposal (Group projects optional)
    4. Project Proposal: Submit a proposal for a major project in the area of collections or services that could serve as a blueprint or a project proposal in a real library setting. (i.e. a proposal for a multimedia services room; an appointment-based or mobile device based reference service; a mentor and training program for new librarians) You may self-select into groups of 3-4 students. Final proposal, due the week of Dec 8 (5-10 pages) The instructor will provide examples of projects. The project should include the following parts:
    • 1. Financial estimates of work to be performed
    • 2. Sample measurements of proposed services, etc.
    • 3. Proposed new costs or cost savings
    • 4. Estimated additional staff/ staff savings
  • (1-2 pages - Outline for project proposal due November 3)
  • Assignment # 5 “Putting together some numbers” –
    5. The library has been informed that it will lose 12,000 sq feet of shelving space that is being converted to a coffee shop/café on one floor of the building. Come up with a viable plan for what to do with the displaced material. You may be able to find an example of such a project and describe the problem, the premise, the action, the results and the conclusion recommendation based on the data. I will provide examples of projects/research that have been conducted.
    (3-4 pages – Due Monday November 16
  • Assignment # 6 Listserv monitoring report /Professional Librarians Association Meeting
    6. Subscribe to an Academic Library ListServ such as LIBADMIN; LIBPLN-L,LIBREF- or AQUNETor monitor a Blog for one week on a daily basis and report on an issue discussed on the ListServ (preferably) or Blog to your fellow students on the Discussion Board. Turn in a paper describing the posting and what you would do with the information to the assignment drop box. (two pages – make it good!)
    During the semester, the student will attend a professional library association meeting such as a local, state or national librarian’s association meeting. The student will find and identify a meeting that they can attend. Lists of association meetings will be provided for the geographic area of the student’s residence. A summary report of the meeting will be provided by the student. (2-3 pages Due Monday November 30)
  • Final Project (Assignment #4 Proposal presented November 3) - Due Monday December 7

Course Calendar
Class Schedule: Discussion Topics, Readings and Assignments:
*Keep in mind that each week the student is to read the class lecture and at least one of the articles on the reading list and make a posting to the Discussion List on their reading.

  • Week 1 August 24 Introductions - General Issues - Where are we?
    Pre-Exercise: Getting to Know You due Monday September 6
  • Week 2 August 30- Library Budget Issues/Economic Downturn
  • Week 3 September 6 – Library Space Issues
    Assignment #1 Academic Library Issue 2-3 pages (Due Monday September 14)
  • Week 4 – September 13 - Building [Electronic] Collections
  • Week 5 – September 20 – Total Management Issues - Hierarchical vs. Team-Based Organizations
    Assignment #2 Interview and report due Monday September 21
  • Week 6 – September 27 - Emerging Personnel Issues/Recruitment, Education, and Retention of Librarians.
  • Week 7 – October 4 - Copyright Issues & Scholarly Publishing
    Assignment #3 Position Paper due Monday October 11
  • Week 8 – October 11 – Technological Considerations
    Assignment #4 Outline for project proposal (Due Monday October 26)
    Turn in proposal for major project. (Prepare a major proposal for a project in the area of collections or services that would serve as a blueprint for a project proposal in a real library setting. I.e. (Proposal for a Multimedia Services Room; Appointment-based Reference Service; Mentor and Training program for new librarians) (1-2 pages) Final proposal should be 10-15 pages, due the week of December 5. (This can be a group project – but you need to tell me who is going to work as a group – members, and stick to it.
  • Week 9 – October 18 - Competition from Outside Information Providers
  • Week 10 – October 25 - Team-based Organizations vs. Hierarchical Organizations
  • Week 11 November 1 – OCLC Environmental Scan – Academic Libraries in the Larger World
  • Week 12 November 8 -
    Assignment #5 Listserv participation and reports
    (Due Monday November 9)
  • Week 13 November 15 - User-based Library Public Services - Reference and Instruction Services: Training, Communication, Staffing 24/7
  • Week 14 – November 2 Professional Issues -
    Assignment #6 Professional association meeting report/or alternative assignment
    (Due Monday November 23)
  • Week 15 – November 29 - Strategic Planning - Future Issues
    Assignment #4 Full Project due December 7
  • Week 16 December 6 No assignments – all work should be turned in by December 7

Course Grading


  • Assignment #1 Academic Library Challenge/Issue Assignment 10%
    (Due Monday September 14)
  • Assignment #2 Librarian Interview and report 10%
    (Due Monday September 21)
  • Assignment #3 Academic Library Issue Position Paper 15%
    (Due Monday October 5)
  • Assignment #4 Group Project proposal 25%
    (Outline for project proposal due November 3;
  • Assignment #5 Putting Together Some Numbers 15%
    (Due Monday November 16)
  • Assignment #6 Professional association meeting report
    (Due Monday November 30 ) 15%
  • Postings/participation on Class Discussion List/ Elluminate Discussions 10%

    Total: 100% possible

Late Assignments
Points earned for late assignments will be reduced by 5 percent per day late. Final grades will be based on the preceding grading scale established for graduate students by San Jose State University.

Textbooks and Readings

Readings will be posted in each week's Lessons module as well as in the class syllabus, plus students will be invited to find their own readings and report on them via the Discussion Board. All readings will be made available via the course modules or through the King Library.

Required Textbook:

  • Wood, E.J., Miller, R., & Knapp, A. (2006). Beyond survival: Managing academic libraries in transition. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591583373. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbook:

  • Budd, J. M. (2005). The changing academic library: Operations, culture, environments (ACRL publications in librarianship). ALA. Available through Amazon: 0838983189. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Hernon, P., & Rossiter, N. (2006). Making a difference: Leadership and academic libraries. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591582911. arrow 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) — 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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