INFO 284-12
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Topic: Special Collections
Spring 2017 Greensheet

Lynne M. Thomas
Other contact information: Additional contact info available by request; please e-mail instructor with questions; I strive to respond within 24 hours whenever possible.
Office Hours: by appointment

Greensheet Links
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 26th, 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

While this course is listed as a seminar in Archives and Records Management, the emphasis of this course is on the allied field of Rare Books and Special Collections librarianship. This course will serve as an introduction to the challenges and rewards of managing rare books and special collections in the digital age. Archives, rare books, manuscripts, and other formats will be discussed within the context of collection development and management, access, ownership, stewardship, digital delivery, and preservation. Administration of special collections operations will also be a focus. Students will gain an understanding of the historical basis of rare books and special collections librarianship, as well as a sense of where the field is going in the near future. 

Course Requirements

Course Calendar

  • Week One: Introduction and Overview of Special Collections AKA What Have I Gotten Myself Into?
  • Assignment One: Due Friday, March 10
  • Week Two: The Basics of The Stuff: What It Is, How To Get It.
  • Week Three: OH, METADATA: Rare Book Cataloging, Classification, & Collection Management 
  • Week Four: Outreach & Instruction
  • Assignment 2, due Friday, March 24
  • Week Five: Preservation Week: From Paper to Digital
  • Week Six: The Money: Special Collections Administration & Fundraising 
  • Week Seven: Juggling Access & Restriction
  • Week Eight: Now What?
  • Assignment 3, due Friday, April 28 ; Peer commentary must be completed by Wednesday, May 3.

Dates subject to change with 2 weeks advance notice.

Course Grading

  • Assignments are due at 5pm PST on the due date given.
  • Course grading is through POINTS EARNED, *not* a weighted average of individual assignments. 125 points total are available through the semester.
  • Assignment 1: “What have we gotten ourselves into?” Perception vs. Reality (10 points) [Class discussion on Canvas discussion board] Due due Friday, March 10 (Supports CLO #1, #2)
  • Assignment 2: PICK ONE: Collection development plan / Book Talk / Online Exhibit / Social Media Critique / Advocacy document / Grant application analysis / Copyright discussion (25 points) due Friday, March 24 (Supports CLO #2, #3, #4)
  • Assignment 3: Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian for A Day: You can create an expanded version of one of the Assignment 2 options OR select a different option from Assignment 2 (35 points=30 points for individual project +5 points for peer review of other students' projects) due Friday, April 28; Peer commentary must be completed by Wednesday, May 3 (Supports CLO #2, #3, #4)
  • Discussion/Class participation grading: All discussion boards for each unit will be graded, with students eligible to earn up to 50 points over the course of the semester for class participation. (Supports CLO #1-4)
  • Extra credit option: Students can complete an in-person visit (as a patron) to a local special collections or rare book room department and write a BRIEF report (4 pages max) based upon their experiences and how they relate to course content --or don't. (5 points) (Supports CLO #1, #2, #3)
  • Penalty (if any) for late or missed work: Late work will be docked one letter grade for each 24 hour period it is late after the due date.

Recommended Readings

Additional readings for each week will be provided through the CANVAS system as each lesson is opened up for use. Please note: You are not asked to purchase the "additional neepery" titles, but you may find some of them useful in the long run. 

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, INFO 202, INFO 204, other prerequisites may be added depending on content

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the past, present, and future of the special collections field, and its relation to librarianship as a whole.
  2. Articulate the similarities and differences between special collections, archives, and museums.
  3. Critique and create library policies and procedures as they relate to special collections work.
  4. Demonstrate basic knowledge of the history of the book through interpretation of special collections resources for general audiences.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 284 supports the following core competencies:

  1. B Describe and compare organizational settings in which information professionals practice.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  3. N Evaluate programs and services using measurable criteria.


Required Textbooks:

  • Gailbraith, S.K. & Smith, G.D. (2012). Rare book librarianship: An introduction and guide. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591588812arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Thomas, L., & Whittaker, B. (Eds.). (2016). New directions for special collections: An anthology of practice. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1440842906arrow 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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