INFO 284-13 (2-Units)
Seminar in Archives and Records Management Topic: History of Libraries in the US
Summer 2020 Syllabus

Dr. Donald Westbrook
Office Hours: Virtual Office Hours By Email/Appointment

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning June 1st, 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 2-unit class runs from June 8 to August 3.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This course examines the history, development, and role of the library in American history, culture, and society from colonial times to the present day. The evolution of libraries, librarianship, and library technologies and services will be considered.

Course Requirements


The assignments for this course are as follows:

  • Discussions. 28 points (7 discussions, 4 points each)

Participate in a series of discussions related to American library history, research methodologies, sources, the research paper, and other topics connected with the course learning outcomes. (Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

  • Library History Book Review. 20 points

Locate and review a library history book. A list of recommendations will be provided. (Learning Outcomes 3, 4, & 5)

  • Research Paper.  27 points

Write a research paper that includes a thesis, overview of the topic and its significance, discussion of methodology and sources, literature review, and demonstration of research skills addressed in the course. (Learning Outcomes 3, 4, & 5)

  • Final Exam.  25 points

Final examination covering periods, themes, and players in American library history as addressed in the lectures and readings. (Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5)  

Assignment Submission

All assignments must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) on the day they are due.  Late submissions will be reduced by 20% of the total points possible for that assignment or discussion post.

Grading and Due Dates


28 points

See Schedule

Library History Book Review

20 points

Due July 12

Research Paper

27 points

Due August 7

Final Exam

25 points

Due August 7

Course Schedule

Reminder: Weekly class sessions run from Monday through Sunday. Schedule below subject to change with fair notice.

Module 1 (1 Week)

June 8 - June 14

Module 1 (1 Week): Introductions and Goals for the Course 

Discussion 1

Module 2 (2 Weeks)

June 15 -June 28

Module 2 (2 Weeks): Early Print Culture in Colonial America and the Founding of the First Libraries; Evolution and Growth of Libraries in the 19th Century

Discussions 2a and 2b

Module 3 (2 Weeks)

June 29 -July 12 

Module 3 (2 Weeks): The Diversification of Librarianship and Major Figures in American Library History; Evolution of Libraries in the 20th Century

(Independence Day observed on Friday, July 3)

Discussions 3a and 3b

Library History Book Review due by July 12, 11:59 PM PT.

Module 4 (2 Weeks)

July 13 -July 26

Module 4 (2 Weeks): Library Schools, Technologies, Historiography, and Current Scholarly Issues and Trends; American Libraries in a Globalized World

Discussions 4a and 4b

Module 5 (1 Week)

July 27 -August 3

Module 5 (1 Week): Conclusion: The Future of American Libraries and Information Centers

Final Paper and Final Exam due by Friday, August 7, 11:59 PM PT.

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. Discuss early print culture in colonial America and the founding of the first libraries.
  2. Describe the evolution of libraries in the 19th and 20th centuries and the social, cultural, and economic factors that influenced their growth.
  3. Trace the development of library technologies and services and their impact on society.
  4. Discuss the professionalization and feminization of librarianship. Identify the major figures in American library history.
  5. Describe the development of library historiography and current scholarly issues and trends.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 284 supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.


Recommended Textbooks:

  • Learn about the history of your school! Hansen, D.G. (2010). A pioneering and independent spirit. Trafford. Available through Amazon: 1426921098 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Augst, T., & Carpenter, K. (2007). Institutions of Reading. Univ. of Massachusetts Press. Available through Amazon: 1558495916. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Battles, M. (2003). Library: An unquiet history. W. W. Norton & Company. Available through Amazon: 0393020290arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Hildenbrand, S. (Ed.). (1996). Reclaiming the American library past: Writing the women in. Ablex Publishing. Available through Amazon: 1567502334arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Moore, S. D. (2019). Slavery and the making of early American libraries: British literature, political thought, and the transatlantic book trade, 1731-1814. Oxford University Press. Available through Amazon: 0198836376arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Pawley, C., & Robbins, L. S. (Eds.). (2013). Libraries and the reading public in twentieth-century America. University of Wisconsin Press. Available through Amazon: 0299293246arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Selby, M. (2019). Freedom libraries: The untold story of libraries for African Americans in the South. Rowman & Littlefield. Available through Amazon: 1538115530arrow 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
  • Wiegand, W. A. (1996). Irrepressible reformer: A biography of Melvil Dewey. ALA. Available through Amazon: 083890680Xarrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Wolff, K. (2009). Culture club: The curious history of the Boston Athenaeum. University of Massachusetts Press. Available through Amazon: 1558497145arrow 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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