INFO 232-01
INFO 232-10
INFO 232-11
Issues in Public Libraries
Spring 2020 Syllabus

R. Barefoot
Office Location: Online
Office Hours: Virtually, by appointment only, send an email to the instructor to arrange
Class Days/Time: Online, asynchronous 

Syllabus Links
Canvas Login and Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 23rd 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 class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

INFO 232 deals with "Investigation of current issues that impact the functioning of the public library. Topics covered include issues related to social and political environments, clientele, services, collections, physical settings, financing and staffing, and future trends in the public library sector."  

Broad Topics covered will include:

  • Community Development
  • Operations and Management
  • Innovation and Change

Within these three areas of study, we will delve further into how the library is the hub for civic connection, how customers drive environments, how digital access to popular collections must be integrated service, why operational efficiency must be established, how customer service is #1, and how technology trends are driving service development.  We will explore how creative enterprise and innovation is commonplace and how we struggle with security and change management challenges. You will also experience how strategic planning and working with partners and stakeholders are coming into vogue and so much more. We will apply the content to a variety of small rural experiences or large urban experiences.

As this course explores some of the largest trends impacting public libraries it will not be exhaustive. Instead, these issues are some of this instructor's favorites in which to highlight. So if you have a fearless attitude and skill set to deal with challenging issues, being real and authentic during each discussion helps you foster a highly functional work and play environment where you may lead with confidence your library's approach to adopting some of the latest trends in libraries.

Course Requirements


The Instructional Materials for this course will support the Course Learning Objectives (CLO) in the following ways. During each of the eight (approximately) two-week modules will be several targeted activities supporting each of the course learning objectives (CLO's).  Various tools support the course learning objectives. Along with online discussions and collaborate rooms for group work Canvas Gradebook feature allows students to see their grades and progress through the course. There are refined explanations (or annotations noted at the end of this page) on how understanding the fundamentals of public library issues, services, and operations, change and innovation will be identified and defined when connected to each CLO. Each of the course activities and readings will further describe these elements of public library operational trends. In addition to bi-weekly discussions and quizzes, there will be assignments where you will document and turn in your findings in a group or individually as noted. 

There is one (1) required reading Textbook and three (4) required reading pdf reports that will be discussed in depth throughout the course as well as other smaller article readings. PLEASE NOTE that I will include hyperlinks to course content cited books, articles, and websites for your convenience. You do not need to read these in detail unless you are specifically directed to do so. You may still read through them because you want to study particular topics more in-depth. You're welcome to do so. 

Course Calendar

Subject to change with fair notice.  The following chart illustrates all course learning objectives with their matched module readings and corresponding assignments, discussions, and quizzes.





(Jan 23 - Feb 2)

Serving Customers, Diversity, Environments (CLO #1,  CLO #5CLO #7CLO #8CLO #9CLO #10CLO #11)


Individual Research: Walkabout Report

Discussion: Introduce yourself

Discussion: Customer diversity

Read report, Libraries in The Exponential Age, by Garmer



(Feb 3 - 16)

We Are Rebuilding Our Brand, Improving Our Story (CLO #5)

Discussion: Transforming our image

Read, Transforming Our Image…by V. Gross.



(Feb 17 - Mar 1)

Outreach and Partnerships (CLO #1CLO #2CLO #10)

Discussion: Getting out in the community

Read report, Rising to The Challenge by Garmer



(Mar 2 -15)


Popular Collections and Digital Access, Classes and Services (CLO #2CLO #4CLO #5CLO #7CLO #10)

Discussion: Popular digital collections and access

Group Assignment: read and report on, Advancing Racial Equity in Public Libraries by Amy Sonnie



(Mar 16 - 29)

Operational Efficiency and Project Management (CLO #1CLO #3CLO #4CLO #7CLO #11)


Discussion: Building trust in the organization



(Mar 30 - Apr 12)

Service Models and Strategic Planning (CLO #3CLO #4CLO #6CLO #7)

Discussion: Message clarity, consistency, and comprehension

Individual Assignment: eLearning around the globe report

Read: From Awareness to Funding report



(Apr 13 - 26)

Innovation As Change (CLO #6CLO #11)

Discussion: How innovative is your local library?



(Apr 27 - May 10)

Trends and Technology Driving Efficiency and Community Development (CLO #4CLO #6CLO #7CLO #9CLO #11)

Discussion: Favorite innovations in public libraries today

Group Discussion for Final Project

Final Group Project


Assignment Point Breakdown and Due Dates

  1. Bi-Weekly Discussions using Canvas (5 points each) Engage in meaningful and thoughtful discourse about the coursework, readings, your own scholarly research, library experiences and observations, and other information about the challenges facing public libraries. Discussions open on Monday at 12:00 AM and close at the end of the two-week period on Sunday 11:59 PM (CLO #11)

  2. Bi-Weekly Quizzes: (1 point per question, number of questions vary per quiz) Check your knowledge on content taught during the 2-week periods. Quizzes due at the end of each of these 2-week periods on Sundays 11:59 PM (CLO #11)

  3. Individual Assignment: Walkabout-- (10 points) Visit a public library you have never visited before. Using the checklist provided assess the customer service, public environments, programs, popular collections, website, and online resources, self-directed spaces, signage, and wayfinding in the library. Observe/participate in one program, i.e. storytime, makerspace program, teen program, senior program, etc. Report on your findings using the checklist outline form in a 4-page report, blog, website or PowerPoint presentation. Due Feb 2 (CLO #1CLO #7)

  4. Group Project: Analytical Investigation on report, Advancing Racial Equity in Public Libraries: case studies from the field-- (10 points) Discuss your findings about the challenges of race inequity and how it is being addressed in public libraries. Why and how has this become a priority in public library service efforts? Provide a 10-page report on your findings. Due Mar 15 (CLO #9)

  5. Individual Assignment: eLearning Around the Globe -- Group(10 points) The two-part project is as follows: 1)Research and analyze how various public library efforts around the world are transforming culture, communities, civic rights, and responsibilities in order to solve real threats to library access for at-risk groups.  2) Also, address how eLearning has impacted these public libraries and their approach when solving challenges of serving at-risk groups. Turn in your 7-page paper. Include photos, media uploads and website links to illustrate issues and solutions found by libraries. Due Apr 12  (CLO #1,CLO #2CLO #6CLO #9CLO #10CLO #11) 
  6. Final Group Project: Trends Impacting the Local Library-- (20 points) Select a public library your team members have not yet explored before to use as your example. It can be near or far away, small or large, international or not, a branch or large city library with all branch units included. The research for this report will emphasize a virtual exploration on what you find.

    You are a special consultant team called in to assist library administration on assessing their:

    1. current state of the library staying abreast of trends using this course's content to explore and evaluate,
    2. community wants and needs through community profiling by analyzing their mission statement, community profile, annual reports, newsletters, webpage, blogs, social media, etc. that includes how they are tackling their community needs. Interview leadership staff if possible. 
    3. identify their use of vocabulary/lexicon in terms of V. Gross lexicon and make recommendations using the Garmer reports and V. Gross book to refresh the library's new vibrant, engaged, and innovative community presence that better promotes a higher level of connection for today's workforce, internal City/County library management, and community connection. 
    4. analyze and compare how they are stacking up using the assigned readings by Amy Sonnie, "Advancing Racial Equity in Public Libraries," Amy Garmer, "Libraries in the Exponential Age," and "Rising to the Challenge," as a benchmark or suitable measure of success on where the library is at, what they have accomplished, what they are still tackling, what might be off their radar and should not be, challenges they are grappling with, suggested local or non-local resources they can tap, and so on. (You may have to interview their library management to pose your questions.)       

    *Groups post on their group Final Project Discussion Board team member project task assignments. It is more for your records that you will split up the work evenly and begin work in a timely fashion. 

    Final Format:

    Your online, media and photo-rich presentation may be equivalent to a 15-page, double-spaced report. Do not submit a regular mundane report! Your digital presentation will be media-rich and illustrate a modern, progressive application of the content analyzed in the course. It can be anything like a website with video and audio embedded, or a windows document with the latest "bling" of photos and media embedded, or Powerpoint (or similar) with media embedded, or such. It must include at least one video or audio recorded by one or all of the members of your group. Your consultant team's presentation must be captivating, lively, compelling, wise, and have practical and immediate application potential. Due May 10 (CLO #1CLO #3)


Extra credit options are unavailable.




Bi-Weekly Discussions (45 pts +5 pts special discussion) 



Papers/presentations: Walkabout (10 pts), eLearning (10 pts), Homelessness (10 pts), Final Project (20 pts)









Grades will be assigned based on how well students demonstrate:

  • understanding of public library operations and issues in discussion forums and comments;
  • critical, reflective, and innovative thinking skills;
  • depth, quality, creativity, and presentation of work;
  • ability to articulate the ways that philosophical perspectives influence our understanding of public library operations and issues in research and critical analyses;
  • professionalism working within a group or team environment;
  • percentage weight of grade given to each assignment is noted above.
  • extra credit options are unavailable.
  • All assignments must be submitted by 11:59 PM (PST) on the day the assignment is due. Late assignments will be reduced by 20% of point value per day late. Please contact Instructor, Ruth Barefoot, if a medical or a family/personal emergency prevents you from submitting an assignment on time. Student participation will be assessed per occurrence where dialog has been requested on discussions, posts, and assignments. Attendance and participation are required throughout the course. All students will be expected to participate, support an atmosphere of collegial respect, be prompt when arriving for discussions and turn in course requirements by/before their due date.

Instructor's response time for grading assignments or final feedback to discussions will be within 48 hours unless other arrangements are made.

Students may track their coursework progress and grade status throughout the semester to enhance their learning engagement.

Instructor Annotations for Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)
(The following annotations provide further information on the CLOs included in the syllabus below)

Upon successful completion of the course, you will learn how to:

1) Comprehend factors influencing the historical development of public libraries, and consider their current and possible future roles.

  • Identify some of the driving trends changing the way we serve the library community including library environments and the modern tools that improve services. 
  • Illustrate the elements of Wayfinding and how they facilitate navigation.  Illustrate how the elements of a signage program feed into improved intuitive and self-directed environments. 

2) Articulate public library governance: organizational and legal structures, political relationships, funding, and library board functions and responsibilities.

  • Recognize current performance measures used by government agencies. Value the challenges of attracting adequate funding support, alternative funding avenues in grants, endowments, Friends of the Library, and library foundations.
  • Recognize security challenges and the successful approaches to solve them in public libraries.
  • Articulate the issues of copyright and right to access challenges that staff and customers have and how the library plays a key role in our society.

3) Identify the reasons for and enumerate the steps involved in the planning process for public libraries.

  • Identify why a Strategic Plan is used in managing library operations today. Interpret an example proposal contract to develop a Strategic Plan.
  • Evaluate how to make an informed decision on what the priorities for service are through Strategic Planning and how a Strategic Plan works in alignment with the Service Model and community goals.  

4) Create a model for evaluating public library effectiveness.

  • Assemble the basic components of a modern Service Model and propose why and how they are used in managing operations, and how they work in conjunction with a Strategic Plan.  
  • Recognize how to align library resources to best meet the community’s needs.  

5) Demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of marketing public library services and materials.

  • Employ and discuss the merits of sound communication and marketing practices including framing your story, identifying with a lexicon of modern and effective language for public libraries today, and identifying and delivering the library message. 
  • Identify and examine the best practices on why and how to merchandising materials.

6) Comprehend basic concepts of fiscal management in public libraries.

  • Describe basic trends in public library funding, their fiscal impact on the larger community, and the use of applying alternate resources when available to target specific community needs.  

7) Select and analyze technological issues related to public libraries.

  • Identify and contrast current trends and best practices in operations and management including how LEAN strategies applied to backroom processes have improved efficiency. Recognize specific strategies that have been successful in materials handling, direct shelving method, AMH, and RFID technology.
  • Articulate how the App-Library, eLearning, and statistics gathering are driving efficiency to improve the user experience, save staff time, align with community goals and coordinate efforts with stakeholders and partners.  

8) Distinguish ways to appropriately and legally deal with personnel and patron issues in a diverse society. Recognize the importance of training and written policies and procedures. 

  • Recognize the application of customer-centric thinking assists with improved seamless service to all ages, variety of cultures and economic background.
  • Identify current issues serving the homeless in our society.
  • Describe leadership skills and tools used to motivate, collaborate, innovate and build team effort.
  • Recognize your strengths and challenges before impacting others by way of self-assessment.
  • Practice ways to employ the PDCA tool for project management.
  • Debate the difference between leadership and supervision, how to delegate successfully, and differentiate the ways to deal with difficult staff.
  • Recognize how staff performance is being captured.
  • Recognize how to foster an ecosystem of trust and collaboration where staff can thrive. 

 9) Define key planning elements in constructing a new facility. 

  • Describe new service environments and backroom efficiency that are impacting how library buildings are designed.  
  • Define what a single service point is and how roving staff interacts with it while serving the customer. 

10) Articulate the application of various types of programming, outreach, services, and volunteer programs. 

  • Describe new programming and their spaces and how they allow for improved community connection with the customer and among customers.
  • Identify new ways to tap into community resources through use of volunteer application.

 11) Identify the unique challenges of working as a library professional in a public library setting. 

  • Identify the critical role of change leadership in public libraries today.
  • Recognize how change leadership tools are applied to specific challenges.
  • Define innovation as change and recognize how Design Thinking is being applied.

There are 8 modules to the course. By clicking on the Modules link located on the left navigation bar in Canvas, you will locate the Modules which include the specific discussions, assignments, and quizzes connected to each 2-week period, except that of module 1 which is two and half weeks long. You may also click on the Discussions link or Assignments link on the left Navbar for easy access to these course components. Please click on the Announcements link for the most up-to-date info and video introductions of the featured content during the semester.  Remember to email me if you have any questions at all that are not answered here! Just click on the inbox, then click on the pencil, and type my name in the address bar.     

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. Discuss factors influencing the historical development of public libraries, and consider their current and possible future roles.
  2. Describe public library governance: organizational and legal structures, political relationships, funding, and library board functions and responsibilities.
  3. Identify the reasons for and enumerate the steps involved in the planning process for public libraries.
  4. Create a model for evaluating public library effectiveness.
  5. Demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of marketing public library services and materials.
  6. Discuss basic concepts of fiscal management in public libraries.
  7. Examine and analyze technological issues related to public libraries.
  8. Describe ways to appropriately and legally deal with personnel and patron issues in a diverse society, and recognize the importance of training and written policies and procedures.
  9. Define key planning elements in constructing a new facility.
  10. Discuss various types of programming, outreach, services, and volunteer programs.
  11. Identify the unique challenges of working as a library professional in a public library setting.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 232 supports the following core competencies:

  1. A Demonstrate awareness of the ethics, values, and foundational principles of one of the information professions, and discuss the importance of those principles within that profession.
  2. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.
  3. 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.


Recommended Textbooks:

  • Gross, V.J. (2013). Transforming our image, building our brand: The education advantage. Libraries Unlimited. Available from Amazon 1598847708.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.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.