INFO 284-12 (2-Units)
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Spring 2020 Syllabus

Colleen Theisen
Office Hours: By appointment

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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.

This course runs from January 23rd - March 19th. It will be available on Canvas on January 23rd.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

In-depth study of current issues and practices in archives and records management. The course addresses new areas of research and application such as oral history, sound, and visual archives, digitization, archival automation, archival security, and more.

The emphasis of this course is on Special Collections librarianship. This is a crash course in the history, practical reality, and ethics of working in special collections in the digital age, and how that compares to archives and museum environments. Rare books, archives, manuscripts, and other formats will be discussed within the context of collection development and the management, access, digital delivery, and preservation of the collections. Administration, teaching, exhibitions, and outreach will also be a focus. Students will gain an understanding of the historical basis of rare books and special collections librarianship, as well as a sense of the significant changes in recent years and where the field is going in the near future. 

Course Requirements

Course Calendar





Topics, Readings, Assignments, Deadlines



January 23-29th

Introduction to Special Collections Librarianship and the Profession(s)

Weekly assignment. (CLO #1, #2)


January 30-February 5th

Intro Continuation: Ethics in the Profession(s); The History of the Book

Quiz (CLO # 4), and assignment (CLO #1, #2 ,#3)


February 6-12th

Collections, Collecting, and Donors

Discussion (CLO #3), and assignment (CLO #3)


February 13-19th

Description, Digitization, and Born-Digital Collections

Discussion (CLO #1#2) and assignment (CLO #2)


February 20-26

Preservation, Conservation, and Digitization for Preservation Purposes

Quiz (CLO #1) Discussion (CLO #1), and assignment (CLO #2)


February 27-March 5th

Reading Rooms, Reference, and Security

Discussion (CLO #3), and assignment (CLO #3)


March 6-12th

Instruction in Special Collections and the Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy

Discussion (CLO #1, #4) and assignment (CLO #1#2 ,#3)


March 13-19th

Outreach and Copyright

Discussion (CLO #1, #2), and assignment (CLO #1,#2,#4)

Final Assignment


Due by March 21st (CLO #1#2 ,#3, $4)


Assignments must be handed in by 11:59 pm Pacific Time, and late assignments will be docked 1/3 of a letter grade per day that they are late.

Discussion board posts are the core of our class participation and must be completed on time so that others are able to respond.

The course includes 1000 points, and grades are awarded based on points earned according to the chart below.

  • Weekly discussion board assignments (Due Sundays) & responses (Due Tuesdays) (7x40 points each) = 280 points
  • Weekly short assignment (Due Thursdays) (7x80 points each) = 560 points
  • Quiz (2x30) = 60 points
  • Final assignment = 100 points
  • There is an optional extra credit assignment to visit a local special collections or archives.

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, INFO 202, INFO 204, other prerequisites may be added depending on content

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the past, present, and future of the special collections field, and its relation to librarianship as a whole.
  2. Articulate the similarities and differences between special collections, archives, and museums.
  3. Critique and create library policies and procedures as they relate to special collections work.
  4. Demonstrate basic knowledge of the history of the book through interpretation of special collections resources for general audiences.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 284 supports the following core competencies:

  1. B Describe and compare organizational settings in which information professionals practice.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  3. N Evaluate programs and services using measurable criteria.


Required Textbooks:

  • Gailbraith, S.K. & Smith, G.D. (2012). Rare book librarianship: An introduction and guide. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591588812arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Thomas, L., & Whittaker, B. (Eds.). (2016). New directions for special collections: An anthology of practice. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1440842906arrow 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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