INFO 220-01 [2 Unit]
Resources and Information Services in the Disciplines and Professions - Maps & GIS
Fall 2019 Syllabus

Susie Aber, Ph.D.
Office location: online from Emporia, Kansas [Central Time (CT)]
Office Hours: Available by appointment using email, phone, and text. I will respond within 48 hours unless I am traveling; I will post travel schedules in advance.

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 21 at 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 course will open on the first day that the class meets.

INFO 220-1 is a special, intensive 2-unit course beginning September 3, 6 am PT. The course is 8 weeks and ends on October 29.  It is delivered via the Canvas learning management system.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This course is the examination of geospatial resources for, and services to, professions and disciplines. Specifically, geoliteracy is defined and explored since maps communicate visually on a grid in print or digital formats. You will get to know the 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. Expectations include required textbook readings and webpage lectures. Coursework assignments include three main projects and weekly online Discussion Forum posting tasks. The projects include conducting fieldwork and writing descriptive reports & recording video presentations. All assignments must be submitted on or before posted due dates. Details are found on the course Canvas site.

Graduate-level work is expected, which includes well-organized, correct grammar/spelling for assignments. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Citations and references must be in APA reference style format.


  • Project 1 Information-seeking behaviors - supports CLO #1
    and CC J
    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
    and CC J
    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
    and CC H
    Students will review the results of earlier projects to design a plan for promoting/marketing maps in library settings and demonstrate competency by:
    • creating a guide for finding geospatial resources and services at a library OR a tutorial guide detailing instructions using maps or mapping program
  • Assignments -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 Required and Recommended Readings

The required textbook for this course covers map librarianship and geoliteracy:
Aber, S. E. W., & Aber, J. W. (2017). Map librarianship: A guide to geoliteracy, map and GIS resources and services. Cambridge, MA: Elsevier/Chandos Publishing. Although you are not required to use these resources in this course, recommended books include:

  • Dodsworth, E.H. (2018). A research guide to cartographic resources: Print and electronic sources. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Dodsworth, E. & Nicholson, A. (2015). Using Google Earth in libraries: A practical guide for librarians. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Dodsworth, E. & Laliberte, L.W. (2014). Discovering and using historical geographic resources on the Web: A practical guide for librarians. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Dodsworth, E. (2012). Getting started with GIS: A LITA guide. NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Abresch, J., Hanson, A., Heron, S.J., & Reehling, P.J. (2008). Integrating geographic information systems into library services: A guide for academic libraries. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publisher.

Course Calendar

This 2-unit course is from Tuesday, September 3 to Tuesday, October 29, 2019. The calendar below is a guide and subject to change with fair notice.

Calendar - Dates, Topics, Readings, & Assignments
Module 1: Maps & GIS Resources – User Needs
Week 1

Welcome & Introduction to the Course - Online Lectures & Chapter 1
DF01: Intro to YOU & Maps – Post by 9/10

Project 1: Information-seeking Behaviors: Non-Librarian User & Uses of Maps & GIS 
Written report/Recorded presentation due on or before 9/21

Week 2 
Defining Concepts-Maps & Geoliteracy - Online Lectures & Chapters 2-3
DF02:  Geoliteracy-Games - Post on or before 9/17
Week 3
GIS & Remote Sensing - Online Lectures and Chapters 4-5
DF03: Web GIS & VGI - Post on or before 9/24
Module 2: Map & GIS Librarians - Duties & Services
Week 4

Map & Geospatial Librarianship - Online Lectures & Chapter 6
DF04: Map/GIS LibGuide Services – Post on or before 10/1

Project 2:  Duties Map & Geospatial Librarians
Written report/Recorded session due on or before 10/10

Week 5 
Navigating Labyrinth of Cartographic Resources - Online Lectures & Chapter 7
DF05: Map/GIS Resources – 
Post on or before 10/8
Week 6

Reference Desk Basics -Online Lectures & Chapter 8
DF06: Map/GIS Reference Services –Post on or before 10/15

Module 3: Map Libraries - Analyzing User Experience-Promoting & Marketing Maps
Project 3: Promoting Map/GIS Services & Resources
Project DUE on or before 10/29

Week 7

Collections & Cataloging - Online Lecture & Chapters 9-10
DF07: User Experiences -
Post on or before 10/22

Project 3: Promoting Map/GIS Services & Resources
Project format is your choice (w
ritten report PLUS webpage/map/LibGuide/recorded
instructional presentation or?)
due on or before 10/29

Week 8
Promoting & Preserving Resources & Services- Online Lecture & Chapter 11
10/29 Congratulations! You did it and time to Celebrate!


       Assignment Evaluation      
Project 1: Written Report/Recorded Presentation  25 points
Project 2: Written Report/Recorded Presentation  25 points
Project 3: Written Report/Recorded Presentation  25 points
Discussion Forum Tasks  25 points






Late Assignments

  • Late assignments will be accepted with a prior request/consent; late assignments may result in a grade penalty.


  • Incompletes assigned only in extreme cases of documented family or medical emergency within the final days of 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 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. B Describe and compare organizational settings in which information professionals practice.
  2. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.
  3. D Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.
  4. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  5. J Describe the fundamental concepts of information-seeking behaviors and how they should be considered when connecting individuals or groups with accurate, relevant and appropriate information.


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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