INFO 280-01
INFO 280-10
History of Books and Libraries
Spring 2018 Syllabus

Dr. Linda Main
Office Hours: Virtual 
Dr. Debbie Hansen
Office Hours: Virtual 

Syllabus Links
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 24th, 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

This class examines the role of the book and the library in expressing and fostering culture throughout history. It traces the development of the book through its many stages--cuneiform fragments, illuminated manuscripts, printed books, and electronic journals-and explores how the creation, use, and storage of information are affected by social and technological change. The development of libraries and librarianship and how they have accommodated themselves to the changing form of the book will also be considered.

Course Requirements

: All work will be of graduate standard. This means:

  • No assignments submitted after the due date and time
  • Spelling, grammatical, and syntactical errors will not be allowed
  • All work cited should be in full accordance with the style format selected.

Late assignments will not be accepted. If you have an illness (medical certificate supplied) or a family tragedy, please contact the instructor (L. Main for the first half of the class; D. Hansen for the second half of the class).

  • Manuscript Study. Each student will select a manuscript to research and study. Criteria will be provided to guide the research. The results of study will be presented via a Web site built on a Wordpress blog dedicated to the class. It is due by 4 pm on the 14th February Pacific time.  CLOs 1-5
  • Printed Book Study. Each student will select a printed book (pre-1900) to research and study. Criteria will be provided to guide the research. The results of study will be presented via a Web site built on a Wordpress blog dedicated to the class. It is due by 4 pm on the 7th March Pacific time. CLOs 1-5
  • Library History Paper. During the second half of the semester devoted to the history of American libraries, each student will write a social history of a library of his or her choice. This will be a twenty-page paper, excluding references, based on archival research and in-depth reading in library history. A handout describing the theory and method to be used in this research paper will be provided. It is due by 5 pm on May 2nd Pacific time. CLOs 6-8
  • Exams. Students will be required to take 2 exams.

    The midterm will be an exam on the history of books and early libraries to be held on the 10th March.  The exam will be held via Canvas. You may access the exam between 10 am and 2 pm (Pacific time) on the 10th March. You will have 90 minutes during that time frame to take the exam.   Questions will be drawn from class handouts, class lectures, and talking points. You will answer questions from one (and only one) of the following areas (selected by you on the day of the exam): CLOs 1-5

    • Grouping One
      • The Ancient World
      • Ancient and Medieval Libraries
      • Monasteries and Scriptorium
    • Grouping Two
      • Key Illuminated Manuscripts
      • The Incunabula
    • Grouping Three
      • 17th -20th Century Developments
      • Changes in Book Design (to cover paperbacks, dime novels, comics, children's books, and e-books)
    The final will be an exam on the history of books, reading, and libraries in America. This exam will be based on the assigned readings and websites as well as the class lectures given during the second half of the class only. It will be a short-essay exam that will ask you to identify and explain the significance of key themes, events, people, and institutions relating to the history of books and libraries in America. The final will take place on the 5th May. The exam will be available via Canvas at 9:00 am (Pacific) on the 5th May  and will be due at 5:00 pm (Pacific) on the 5th May.  CLOs 6-8

  • Weekly Activities During the history of books section of the class you will be assigned six weekly activities using Quia web to illustrate your ability to present information in different formats. CLOs 1-5

  • Weekly Discussions.  During the history of American libraries portion of the class, you will participate in weekly discussion forums. CLOs 6-8

Course Calendar

History of Books (All times are Pacific)

  • First Weekly Activity set 24th January; due 31st January by 4 pm
  • Second Weekly Activity set 31st January; due 7th February by 4 pm
  • Third Weekly Activity set 7th February; due 14th February by 4 pm
  • Manuscript Project due by 4 pm on 14th February
  • Fourth Weekly Activity set 14th February; due 21st February by 4 pm
  • Fifth Weekly Activity set 21st February; due 28th February by 4 pm
  • Sixth Weekly Activity set 28th February; due 7th March by 4 pm
  • Printed book project due by 4 pm on 7th March
  • Midterm 10th March 

American Library History (All times are Pacific)

  • First Week Discussion: March 14 - March 21
  • Second Week Discussion:  March 21- April 4
  • Third Week Discussion: April 4 - April 11
  • Fourth Week Discussion: April 11-April 18
  • Fifth Week Discussion: April 18 - April 25
  • Sixth Week Discussion: April 25 – May 2
  • Library History Paper due by 5 pm May 2nd
  • Final exam May 5th 


No rounding up of points

MSS Project 15 points
Printed Book Project 15 points
Library History Paper 30 points
Mid-term 14 points
Final 14 points
Weekly Activities 6 points
Weekly Discussions 6 points

Class Format and Technology Requirements
This class is team taught by Linda Main and Debbie Hansen. Linda Main will be solely responsible for the first half of the class covering the history of books and early libraries; Debbie Hansen will be solely responsible for the second half of the class which focuses on American library history.

This class makes use of a variety of technologies. The Manuscript and Printed Books Assignments will be submitted as websites built on a passworded Wordpress site dedicated to the class.  No Web programming skills are required, but you will be expected to be comfortable with Web tools that have easy to use user interfaces. The weekly activities in the first half of the class will use Quia web. You will be given access to the software.

There is no requirement to buy any of the textbooks. The list of textbooks is for those who wish to supplement their reading; and to provide a resource for those who may end up working in this field.

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

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Describe the evolution of graphic communication symbols, and identify alphabetic and ideographic systems in use in various parts of the world.
  2. Exhibit familiarity with the materials and methods of book production in various parts of the world from the manuscript era to the present.
  3. Analyze aspects of external forces—social, economic, political, religious, and artistic—that have affected the content and appearance of books in several specific parts of the world.
  4. Identify and discuss economic problems that have shaped methods of publishing and distributing books.
  5. Attribute major technical and artistic developments in typography, book design, and book production to persons and nations originating these developments.
  6. Discuss the institutional development of libraries and how libraries have evolved in response to economic, social, and technological change.
  7. Analyze the social functions of the library and understand how, why, and when library service evolved from a collection-centered to a client-centered institution.
  8. Describe the development of librarianship as a profession and identify seminal theorists and practitioners in the field.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 280 supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Recognize the diversity (such as cultural and economic) in the clientele and employees of an information organization and be familiar with actions the organization should take to address this diversity.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.


Recommended Textbooks:

  • Augst, T., & Carpenter, K. (2007). Institutions of Reading. Univ. of Massachusetts Press. Available through Amazon: 1558495916. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Avrin, L. (2010). Scribes, Script and Books (Reprint of 1991 ed.). ALA. Available through Amazon: 0838910386. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Brown, M. P. (1994). Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts. Getty Publications. Available through Amazon: 0892362170. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Casson, L. (2002). Libraries in the Ancient World. Yale University Press. Available through Amazon: 0300097212. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Clemens, R. (2007). Introduction to manuscript studies. Cornell University Press. Available through Amazon: 0801487080arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Diringer, D. (1982). The book before printing. Dover. Available through Amazon: 0486242439. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Febvre. L. (1976). The coming of the book: The impact of printing 1450-1800. Trans. David Gerard. Verso. Available through Amazon: 1859841082. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Finkelstein, D., & McCleery, A. (2006). The Book History Reader (2nd ed.). Routledge. Available through Amazon: 0415359481. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Hall, D. H. (1996). Cultures of Print. Univ. of Massachusetts. Available through Amazon: 1558490493. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Harris, M. H. (1999). History of libraries in the western world (4th ed.). Scarecrow Press. Available through Amazon: 0810837242. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Howard, N. (2005). The book: The life story of a technology. Greenwood Technographies. Available through Amazon: 031333028X. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Katz, B. (1995). Dahl's history of the book. Rowman & Littlefield. Available through Amazon: 0810828529. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Martin, H. J. (1995). History and power of writing. University of Chicago Press. Available through Amazon: 0226508366. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Passet, J. (1994). Cultural Crusaders. University of New Mexico Press. Available through Amazon: 0826315305. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Van Slyck, A. (1998). Free to all: Carnegie libraries and American culture, 1890-1920. University of Chicago Press. Available through Amazon: 0226850323. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Wiegand, W. (2011).  Main Street public library: Community places and reading spaces in the rural heartland, 1876-1956. University of Iowa Press. Available through Amazon: 1609380673arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Wiegand, W. A. (2015). Part of our lives: A people's history of the American public library. Oxford University Press. Available through Amazon: 0190248009arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Wright, A. (2007). GLUT: Mastering information through the ages. Joseph Henry Press. Available through Amazon: 0309102383. 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 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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