LIBR 232-10
Issues in Public Libraries
Semester 2009 Greensheet

Dr. Penelope A. Grant
Office location: Contact the instructor anytime through email.
Office Hours: Live chat through Elluminate can be set up by prior arrangement with the instructor
Website: <>

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Angel information: This course will be available on Angel. The access code for the course site will be sent to those enrolled in the course, on August 21, 2009, via the MySJSU messaging system. The Angel site will be open for self-enrollment on August 22.

Course Description

This course will investigate current issues that impact on the functioning of public libraries. Topics covered will include issues related to social and political environments, clientele, services, collections, physical settings, finance, staff, and future trends in the public library sector.

Dr. Penny Grant will introduce these issues based in her 25 years of experience as a public librarian plus her academic background and interest in understanding public library issues from a postmodern philosophical perspective.

Students who are looking for a fresh approach to public library issues and students who are already familiar with postmodern approaches will find this course thought-provoking, academically challenging, and practical.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 200, 202, 204 required.

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • understand and appreciate the value of public libraries in a democratic society including public libraries' role in supporting intellectual freedom;
  • understand and appreciate the importance of public libraries providing cost-effective, equitable services to all sectors of society;
  • understand that our insights into public libraries are related to our philosophical perspectives;
  • understand some strategies for communicating effectively with public library stakeholders;
  • understand how various approaches to planning, managing, marketing, and providing access to information can be applied in public libraries;
  • understand the unique challenges of working as a professional librarian in a public library.
LIBR 232 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:
  • articulate the ethics, values and foundational principles of library and information professionals and their role in the promotion of intellectual freedom;
  • 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.

This section also supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • apply the fundamental principles of planning, management and marketing advocacy;
  • compare the environments and organizational settings in which library and information professionals practice. 

Course Requirements

  • Letters from the Field
    Students will read weekly Letters from the Field which will be posted on the course site. The Letters are Dr. Penny Grant's reflections on various public library issues. Each Letter is approximately 5000 to 10,000 words long.
  • Readings
    Students will read other required Readings. The Readings vary from public library customers' personal experiences, to major public library studies, and interesting analysis of public library issues from LIS scholars using a postmodern perspective.
  • Fieldwork Assignments
    Student will talk regularly with a working public librarian about the issues raised each week. Students are required to find a public librarian (with an MLIS degree) who will be able to spend about 15 minutes each week talking with them, in confidence, about various issues. Discussions can be in person, by phone, or through email. Observation in a public library will also be required. Students will keep a record of the fieldwork in a working journal.
  • Discussion Forums
    Students will participate in two asynchronous Discussion Forums each week. The Forums will be an opportunity to share what has been learned from their contact librarians and/or through observation in a public library. The Forums will provide an opportunity for students to participate in meaningful conversation among themselves and with the instructor. At least one thoughtful post on each of the two Forums will be required each week.
  • Elluminate Session
    There will be one required Elluminate Session where students will be introduced to issues related to public library services to youth.
  • Three Essays
    Approximately every fourth week, students will write a 1500 word essay on a topic assigned by the instructor. No other work will be required during an essay week.
  • Final Paper
    Students will submit a Final paper based on a hypothetical case study.

Course Calendar

  • Week 1: Aug. 24-Aug. 30: Introduction and get acquainted
  • Week 2: Aug. 31-Sept. 6: Philosophical perspectives and research approaches
  • Week 3: Sept. 7 - Sept. 13: Public libraries and the problem of purpose
  • Week 4: Sept. 14 - Sept. 20: First Essay. Deadline: Sunday, Sept. 20.
  • Week 5: Sept. 21 - Sept. 27: Public library governance and partnerships
  • Week 6: Sept. 28 - Oct. 4: Communities and customers
  • Week 7: Oct. 5 - Oct. 11: Customer services and facilities
  • Week 8: Oct. 12 - Oct. 18: Reference and information
  • Week 9: Oct. 19 - Oct. 25: Second Essay. Deadline: Sunday, Oct. 25
  • Week 10: Oct. 26 - Nov. 1: Collections and technology
  • Week 11: Nov. 2 - Nov. 8: Planning and marketing
  • Week 12: Nov. 9 - Nov. 15: Funding and budgeting
  • Week 13: Nov. 16 - Nov. 22: Third Essay. Deadline: Sunday, Nov. 22
  • Week 14: Nov. 23 - Nov. 29: Staffing and staff relationships
  • Week 15: Nov. 30 - Dec. 6: Stories, statistics and reports
  • Week 16: Dec. 7 - Dec. 13: Final Paper, Deadline: Sunday,  Dec. 13

Course Grading

Evaluation Criteria
Grades will be assigned based on how well students demonstrate:

  • understanding of public library issues; 
  • critical, reflective and innovative thinking skills;
  • ability to articulate the ways that philosophical perspectives influence our understanding of public library issues
  • ability to stay organized and focused.

Grades assigned for Discussion Forums will also be based on level of contribution to meaningful dialogue and relevance to issues being discussed. Contributions can be written in an informal style. Frivolous or discourteous postings will not be graded.

Grades for Essays and Final Paper will also be based on:

  • completeness of answers to the question being asked;
  • evidence that the student has completed the assigned Fieldwork and read the Letters from the Field and required Readings;
  • clarity of expression;
  • quality of bibliographic references.

Percentage weight assigned to class assignments

  • Discussion Forums: 18%
  • First Essay: 15%
  • Second Essay: 17%
  • Third Essay: 20%
  • Final Paper: 30%.

Late of missed work

  • Work will not be accepted after the due date
  • Missed work will receive no marks

Textbooks and Readings

The Readings will be available through the King Library, the Internet, and/or on the course site.

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) — 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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