INFO 220-13 [2 Unit]
Resources and Information Services in the Disciplines and Professions - Maps & GIS
Fall 2017 Syllabus

Susie Aber, Ph.D.
Office location: online from Emporia, Kansas [CDT] or LaVeta, Colorado [MDT]
Office Hours: Mondays, 10am-noon [SJSU-PDT] via email or telephone/text by appointment 

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 23, 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 is a 2-unit course from August 23-October 20.  It is delivered via the Canvas learning management system. 

Course Description

INFO 220-13 is the examination of the nature of geospatial resources for, and services to, professions and disciplines. Geoliteracy is important since maps communicate visually on a grid in print or digital formats. This course is an opportunity to get to know information needs of people who use maps and duties of map librarians who help to locate maps, geospatial data and imagery. Stated another way... While we are comfortable communicating in work and play across distances tethered to a phone, in the past land line phones tied us to place. Today, we are on the move with mobile cell technology.  Cellular phones compel us to ask… Where are you?  While you know you are here, how does someone else find the path to get there?  If map comes to mind, then you are thinking like a cartographer who studies and maps regional variation in human activity as well as flora and fauna, rocks and stars, weather and natural disasters, and more.

Cartographers work to record routes, describe and illustrate patterns, and show change over time from historic to current landscapes using maps and geospatial data. This is accomplished in graphical terms, coordinated with a scale and an imaginary grid draped over Earth or even the night sky.  Yet today with the plethora of online mapping programs and software as well as access to satellites and global positioning systems, the question is not what cartography is, rather how can we be cartographers and where might we find resources needed to orient us and create maps?

No prior knowledge of geography or geoscience in general is assumed. All students are welcome whether or not you find your way using global positioning system technologies or familiar landmarks. This course will benefit the geospatially challenged and geography bee winner alike.

Course Requirements

Course Format

The course will be conducted on Canvas with expectations for required textbook readings and webpage lectures as well as listening to any recorded and live collaborate sessions. Course work includes three activities and short online DF posting tasks- one every two weeks. Details on the course Canvas site.
Two  assignments include writing project reports and sharing a summary in live, voluntary synchronous Saturday sessions, on September 16 and October 14; if attendance is impossible for sessions, a pre-recorded report is mandatory and due 1 day prior to the synchronous sessions (9/15 and 10/13). 
Assignments must be submitted on or before posted due dates. Graduate-level work is expected, which includes well-organized, correct grammar for written assignments without plagiarism and with citations in APA format.


  • Project 1 Information-seeking behaviors - supports CLO #1 
    Students will recognize characteristics of map & GIS users by holding informal conversations and demonstrate competency by:
    • describing types and formats of geospatial resources needed
    • identifying how these maps & data resources are used
  • Project 2 Duties of map librarians - supports CLO #3
    Students will hold informal conversations with a map/GIS librarian and demonstrate competency by:
    • identifying what is done to help map & GIS users
    • describing resource types and formats available in the library
    • detailing methods used to find and acquire resources off site
  • Project 3 Promoting map and GIS services & resources - supports CLO #4
    Students will review results of earlier projects to design a plan for promoting/marketing maps and demonstrate competency by:
    • creating a guide for finding geospatial resources and services at a library OR a guide detailing instructions using an online mapping program
  • Assignments -DF01-04A- Basic Reference, Classifying & Cataloging - supports CLO #2
    Students will analyze user experiences and demonstrate competency by:
    • accessing and using cartographic resources and services
    • locating cartographic resources via library catalog search

Course Calendar
This 2-unit course is from Wednesday, August 23-Friday, October 20, 2017. No assignments are due on SJSU holiday observances.  The calendar below is a guide and subject to change with fair notice.

Calendar - Dates, Topics, Readings, & Assignments
Welcome & Introduction to the Course - Online Lecture & Chapter 1
DF01: Intro to YOU & Maps – Post by 8/30
Module 1: Maps & GIS Resources – User Needs
Project 1: Information-seeking Behaviors: User & Uses of Maps & GIS 
Written report due on or before 9/13; Sharing session 9/16 
Defining Concepts-Maps & Geoliteracy - Online Lecture & Chapters 2-3
DF02:  Print & Online Map Examples-Post DF02 OR 2A on or before 9/13
GIS & Remote Sensing - Online Lecture and Chapters 4-5
DF02A: Web GIS & VGI Examples -Post DF02 OR 2A by 9/13
You are invited to share your experiences...
Project 1 How People Use Maps & GIS
12:30-1:30 pm PDT
[1:30 MDT, 2:30 CDT, 3:30 EDT]
Module 2: Map & GIS Librarians - Duties & Services
Project 2:  Duties Map & Geospatial Librarians
Written report due on or before 10/11; Sharing session 10/14 
Map & Geospatial Librarianship - Online Lecture & Chapter 6
DF03: Map/GIS Library LibGuide Examples – Post DF03 OR 3A by 9/27
Navigating Labyrinth of Cartographic Resources - Online Lecture & Chapter 7
DF03A: Map/GIS Instructional Service Examples – Post DF03 OR 3A by 9/27
Reference Desk Basics -Online Lecture & Chapter 8
DF04: Map/GIS Reference Service Examples –Post 04 OR 4A by 10/11
Module 3: Map Libraries - Analyzing User Experiences


Collections & Cataloging - Online Lecture & Chapters 9-10
DF04A: Analyzing User Experiences Examples -
Post 04 OR 4A by 10/11



You are invited to share experience...
Project 2: A Map/GIS Librarian's Story

12:30-1:30 pm PDT [1:30 MDT, 2:30 CDT, 3:30 EDT]

Module 4: Promoting & Marketing Maps
Project 3: Promoting Map/GIS Services & Resources
Project DUE on or before 10/20
Promoting & Preserving Resources & Services- Online Lecture & Chapter 11
GIS Day (11/15) & Geography Awareness (11/12-11/18)
10/20 Congratulations! You did it and it is time to Celebrate!


       Assignment Evaluation      
Project 1:  
Written Report 20 points
Sharing 10 points
Project 2:  
Written Report 20 points
Sharing 10 points
Project 3:  
Written or Recorded 20 points
Discussion Forum (1-4A) 20 points












Late Assignments

  • Late assignments will not be accepted without a prior request/consent; late assignments will likely result in a grade penalty.


  • Incompletes assigned only in extreme cases of documented family or medical emergency.

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 220 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Recognize the characteristics of map users and use of cartographic resources and services.
  2. Locate and use cartographic and geospatial information, data resources, and technologies.
  3. Describe the reference services and duties of map and geospatial librarians.
  4. Explain and promote map and GIS tools and resources to users.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 220 supports the following core competencies:

  1. H Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.
  2. I Use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information.
  3. J Describe the fundamental concepts of information-seeking behaviors.


Required Textbooks:

  • Aber, S. W., & Aber, J. W. (2017). Map librarianship: A guide to geoliteracy, map and GIS resources and services. Elsevier: Chandos Publishing. Available through Amazon: B01N02HY7Xarrow 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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