INFO 287-17
Seminar in Information Science
Topic - Health Literacy and Public Libraries
Summer 2019 Syllabus

Dr. Lili Luo
Office Hours: by appointment

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning June 3rd, 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 in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

Current issues and problems in information science. Specific content of the seminar changes each time it is offered.

Public libraries are uniquely positioned to play an active role in enhancing the public’s health literacy. They provide a no-cost, convenient way to assist the public in navigating health information resources, fulfilling their health information needs, and ultimately improving their health literacy. The public library is often the first place many people consult when seeking information on important health topics, such as health care coverage eligibility, disease prevention and treatment. The Public Library Association (PLA)’s Deputy Director Scott G. Allen acknowledged that health literacy is a key topic for public libraries, as the majority of consumers struggle to make sense of the health information they encounter each day.

This course provides an introduction the various way that public libraries can contribute to the health literacy movement, including health-focused collection development, reference and information services, programming and outreach.

Course Requirements

Course Format

This class is conducted online through Canvas.

Assignments and Evaluation 

  • Interview on Health Information Seeking Behavior (12%, corresponds with CLO#1, due on 6/16) This assignment aims to equip students with a concrete understanding of how people seek health information, especially how they use public libraries for health information needs.
  • Health-focused Reference Interview (13%, corresponds with CLO#3, due on 6/30) This assignment seeks to help students master the skills to conduct health reference interviews effectively in order to assist public library users with their health information needs. 
  • Health-focused Collection Evaluation (15%, corresponds with CLO#2, due on 7/14) This assignment asks students to examine public libraries' health-focused collections and evaluate it using specific criteria.
  • Health-focused Programming Plan (15%, corresponds with CLO#4, due on 7/28) This assignment provides students with opportunities to practice the planning of health-focused programs to meet diverse health information needs among public library users. 
  • Needs Assessment Plan (20 %, corresponds with CLO#1, CLO#2, CLO#3, CLO#4, due on 8/11) This assignment asks students to plan how they should identify the health information needs among the user community in order to develop collections/services/programs properly to meet their needs. 
  • Class discussions (25%, corresponds with CLO#1CLO#2CLO#3CLO#4, due on 6/9, 6/23, 7/7, 7/21, 8/4) Students are expected to participate in a series of class discussions. Students' individual contribution to the discussion topics is as important as their responses to colleagues’ postings. Basically, students will be evaluated for their involvement in, and intellectual contribution to, the collaborative learning environment. Part of the graduate education experience is to help you learn how to present information with support, and not simply say “Well, I think that….” This also applies to agreeing with someone; the statement “I agree” should be presented with support.

Assignment due dates are tentative and subject to change with fair notice.

All assignments are must be turned in by 11:59 pm of the day they are due. Late submissions will be reduced by 5% of the total points for the assignment for each day they are late.

Student Responsibilities

  • As a student, you are expected to read and carefully consider all 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 not negotiable. If the instructor needs to change a due date, you will be notified as soon as possible. Because due dates are not negotiable, procrastination should be avoided. If you employ procrastination as a time management tool, this can limit your time in dealing with unexpected problems. The instructor has the right not to 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 36 hours before the due date to request an extension. In addition, as the instructor schedules grading time for assignments, students turning in late assignments may receive their assessment much later than the rest of the class.
  • If you do not understand assignments, readings, etc., it is your responsibility to inform the instructor. If you are having difficulty, please contact me early so that we can resolve problems before your final grade is unchangeable. You may also ask for help from your classmates through the various discussion methods. You must complete all assignments to pass the course.

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 287 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of health literacy and public libraries' role in the health literacy movement.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of properly developing a health-focused collection in the public library.
  3. Understand how to conduct reference interviews on health related topics.
  4. Understand how to plan and implement health-focused programs and outreach efforts in the public library.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 287 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. N Evaluate programs and services using measurable criteria.


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 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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