Reference and Information Services
Spring 2017 Syllabus
Cell: (630) 865-5195
Office Hours: Office hours by appointment via Blackboard Collaborate. Also available for consultations via email and Bb IM.
Canvas Login and Tutorials
Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 23rd, 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.
This course is an examination of current trends in the design and delivery of reference and information services. It also offers a process-oriented examination of how information professionals answer reference questions. The interpersonal skills required for effective question negotiation and the sources with which questions are answered are stressed.
This course is designed to introduce you to the world of reference and information services. We will explore the history and core values of reference; identify the various methods and models of information service delivery; examine and evaluate key information sources of various types and formats; and discuss current issues and emerging trends in reference and information delivery. Topics will include:
- The history of reference service
- Information seeking behavior
- The reference interview
- Evaluation of reference interactions
- Information sources and their use
- Collection and evaluation of reference sources
- The role of instruction in reference service
- Reference ethics and reference policies
- Trends in reference and information services
Mode of Instruction
This course will be entirely asynchronous. We will use Canvas for online discussions, for the submission of assignments, and for accessing readings and course materials. Attendance at the synchronous office hour in Collaborate is optional; the office hour is intended for me to answer students' questions, for students to get to know me and each other, and for students who would prefer to interact in a synchronous environment. If students ask questions during the office hour from which I believe the rest of the class would benefit, I will post the question and my response to our Canvas site.
- Online Discussions (weekly)
- 20% of total grade
- Since this class is entirely asynchronous, the online discussions are an integral part of the learning experience. It is the primary way in which we will interact as a class and learn from each other. It is also how students will demonstrate their mastery of the course content. Students will write an essay based on their readings for each module of the course and respond to each other's postings. Participation is mandatory. Please see the online discussion expectations sheet in Canvas for detailed information.
Supports CLO 5 and CLO 8
Interview with a Manager of Public Services Department (Individual)
- 15% of total grade
- Reference and Information Services is a field that is constantly evolving. How these services are provided vary greatly from one library type to another. It is important, as a student, to understand how information professionals today define, plan for and provide their services. How do they know what their community needs? How do they evaluate the current services and programs? What kind of a public service team do they build? What kinds of platforms are being used for these services?
- Identify a library or information center to which you can gain access. Ask to be introduced to the person charged with managing public services (these titles may vary). Request their permission for a formal interview (approx.1 hour in length). Create a list of interesting questions for your subject. Carry-out the interview.
- Write up a summary of and reflection on the interview. Bolster your observations with your readings in the course text book or supplementary articles.
- Supports CLO 4, CLO 5, and CLO 6.
- Reference Observation exercise and reflection (Individual).
- 20% of total grade
- Experience reference interaction in a real world setting. In today's information environment, reference service can take many shapes. It can be a shift at a traditional reference desk. It can be the design and implementation of an information literacy class or a community-oriented library program. Employing ethnographic techniques of participant observation, shadow a reference librarian for one "shift" and observe their interactions with customers. This may be an observation of a reference desk shift or it may be an observation of an instruction session or program. Keep a field journal of the observations and then write an analysis of what you observed. Describe how the service is planned, structured and delivered. In what format did the interactions take place? What was the customer's experience from the beginning of the process to the end result?
- A. Identify a library to which you can gain access for the exercise. It can be any type of library. Request permission to shadow a reference or public service librarian for a "shift" at the reference desk. After the observation period, interview the librarian about that day's interactions. If possible, interview a customer about their level of satisfaction about the interview.
- B. Submit the field notes for the observation period along with your analysis and reflections on the experience.
- Working with Reference Sources: Answering Questions and Evaluating Sources (Individual and Group).
- 25% of total grade.
- The universe of available information is massive and constantly shifting. The platforms in which it is found run the spectrum from print to digital, from proprietary to public. It is unrealistic to expect to know every resource available. The important thing is to know and understand the different types of resources, how to find them, assess and use them. You will complete exercises designed to give you practical experience examining, evaluating and using some of the reference sources and search techniques we are studying.
- This assignment has been designed as a self-paced learning packet which will be completed by the students over several weeks. Students will complete the reference practice question exercise individually and then review each other’s work in small groups. Grading will be individual only.
- A learning packet will be posted on Canvas. It will include an introduction to the assignment, a list of reference questions, a worksheet template, and a peer grading rubric. Individual students will choose twelve questions to which they will locate answers in three different types of sources. Those sources will then be evaluated and compared.
- Students will meet in small self-directed groups in order to review and compare their work. Members of the group will provide peer evaluations to each other.
- Individual students will submit an analysis and reflection of the exercise based on their results, the relevant professional literature and any relevant standards.
- Further details for the assignment will be posted to Canvas. N.B. You will need to have access to a print reference collection (a large public or an academic library) in order to complete these exercises, Online sources may be used, but they will not be sufficient for all questions.
- Supports CLO 1 and CLO 2
- Research Guide (Individual).
- 20% of total grade.
- Being an excellent reference librarian requires one to understand (and sometimes anticipate) your customers' needs and help them locate appropriate resources. You also have to know the best way in which to present the information to meet their needs. In order to hone these skills, you will create a research guide designed to assist a user (or community of users) with a particular information need.
- A. Identify a topic of interest on which you would like to build a research or library guide. Carry out the process of identifying appropriate resources, analyzing them and describing them for the user/s in a cohesive manner. Create a guide in whichever format you feel would be most appropriate for your specific setting (i.e., print, web page, podcast, blog post, video, etc.).
- B. Submit an accompanying document in which you will discuss the research challenges with this particular topic, explain your selection criteria, and annotate the sources. Include, as well, a discussion of those resources you chose not to include and why they didn't make the cut. Describe the process of creating the guide and your reasons for choosing one format over another.
Supports CLO 4 and CLO 7
(to be explored at your own pace)
Readings and Assignments
Weeks 1 and 2
Weeks of 8/23 & 8/30
Introductions on Canvas
History and Functions of Reference
Read: Chapter 1 in course textbook.
Week 1: Post introductions of yourself to this week's discussion forum. Tell us what type of library/information work you might be interested in doing. Respond to classmates' posts. Test technology to be sure everything is working properly.
Discussion I (Week 2): Post an essay summarizing your readings. Respond to one classmate's posting.
Luo, "Stories of Reference Librarians"
Weeks 3 and 4
Weeks of 9/6 & 9/13
Ethics & Policies
Bibliographic Sources (S&W, chap. 16)
Read: Chapters 2 and 3 in course textbook.
Luo, "Stories of Reference Librarians"
Discussion II: Post an essay summarizing your readings. Respond to one classmate's posting.
Working with Reference Sources Packet released 9/6/17
Weeks 5 and 6
Weeks of 9/20 & 9/27
|Instruction, Cooperation & Consortia||
Indexes and Abstracts
Sources for Facts and Overviews (S&W, chapt. 17, 18)
Read: Chapters 4 and 5 in course textbook
Discussion III: Post an essay summarizing your readings. Respond to one classmate's posting.
Assignment Due: Interview with a Reference Manager, 9/27/17
Weeks 7 and 8
Weeks of 10/4 & 10/11
Models of Reference Services
Services for Children, YA and Diverse Populations
|Dictionaries, Geographical, Biographical and Genealogical Sources (S&W, chapt. 19, 20, 21)||
Read: Chapters 6, 11,& 12 in course textbook.
Discussion IV: Post an essay summarizing your readings. Respond to one classmate's posting.
Weeks 9 and 10
Weeks of 10/18 & 10/25
Management of Reference
Evaluation & Assessment
|Government Information, Data, and Statistics (S&W Chap. 22, 23)
Read: Chapters 7 & 8 in course textbook.
Discussion V: Post an essay summarizing your readings. Respond to one classmate's posting.
Assignment Due: Reference Observation, 10/18/17
Weeks 11 and 12
Weeks of 11/1 & 11/8
Selection & Evaluation of Reference Resources
Licensing Electronic Sources
|Business, Health & Medicine, Legal Sources (S&W Chapt. 25, 26, 28)
Read: Chapters 13, 14, 15 in course textbook.
Discussion VI: Post an essay summarizing your readings. Respond to one classmate's posting.
Weeks 13 and 14
Weeks of 11/15 & 11/22
Training and Continual Learning
Marketing and Promotion of Reference Service
| Readers’ Advisory
Primary and Archival Sources
(S&W Chapt. 24, 27)
Read: Chapt. 9 & 10 in course textbook.
Discussion VII: Post an essay summarizing your readings. Respond to one classmate's posting.
Assignment Due: Working with Reference Sources, 11/22/17
Weeks 15 and 16
Weeks of 11/29 & 12/6
Future Trends and Course Wrap-up
Read: Chapter 29 in course textbook
Discussion VIII: Post an essay summarizing your readings. Respond to one classmate's posting.
Assignment Due: Research Guide, 12/6/17
- As a student, you are expected to read and carefully consider all of the readings, participate fully in all activities and discussions during the class duration, as well as turning in assignments by the designated time.
- Due dates are non-negotiable. If the instructor needs to change a due date, you will be notified as soon as possible. Since due dates are non-negotiable, procrastination should be avoided. Plan ahead.
- If you do not understand the assignments, etc., it is your responsibility to inform the instructor. If you are having difficulty, [please contact the instructor early so that we can resolve the problems before your final grade is set. You must complete all assignments to pass the course.
The instructor has the right to not accept late assignments or to add significant grade penalties. If you foresee any difficulty in completing your assignment on time, you need to contact the instructor at least 48 hours before the due date to request an extension. Only one extension per student per semester will be considered. If granted an extension, your assignment grade will be reduced by 10%.
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 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
- Identify and assess the characteristics and functions of various types of reference sources.
- Use basic reference tools and searching techniques to answer a wide range of questions.
- Conduct effective reference interviews.
- Describe the relationships between user needs, information resources, and relevant information technologies.
- Describe current issues and trends in reference services, including the impact of technology on user needs and reference interactions.
- Evaluate reference services that address the needs of a diverse and changing society.
- Understand the relationship between reference service and information literacy instruction.
- Begin to develop a personal philosophy of reference service.
Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)
INFO 210 supports the following core competencies:
- F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
- I Use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information.
- N Evaluate programs and services using measurable criteria.
- Smith, L., & Wong, M. (2016). Reference and information services: An introduction (5th ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1440836965
- Bopp, R. E., & Smith, L. C. (Eds.). (2011). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction (4th ed.). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Available through King Library as eBook.
- Cassell, K. A., & Hiremath, U. (2013). Reference and information services: An introduction (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Neal Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555708595
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|
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).
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: http://www.sjsu.edu/gup/syllabusinfo/. 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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