INFO 284-12 (2-Units)
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Topic: Curating Exhibitions from Archival Collections
Fall 2020 Syllabus

Leigh Gleason
Office Location: Riverside, CA
Office Hours: by appointment

Syllabus Links
Canvas Login and Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 19th 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 is a 2-unit course. It runs from October 5 - November 30th. It opens on Canvas on October 5th.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This course takes students through the process of creating an exhibition based on materials in a single archival repository. All work is independent and places strong emphasis on discussion (where peer feedback/interaction is part of the discussion grade). Student will select an exhibition topic based on their own interests, craft an exhibition proposal, and devise an exhibition consisting of approximately 20-30 items and accompanying texts. 

Course Requirements

There are two assignments in this course, and a heavy emphasis on weekly discussion:

  • Weekly discussions: prepare a substantial weekly post and meaningful responses to peers. Discussions will address topics covered in readings/lectures and be driven toward the development of individuals' curatorial project. Fulfills CLO #1#2, and #3.
  • Exhibition proposal: describe the content, concept, and vision of proposed curatorial project, including budget and timeline. Fulfills CLO #1.
  • Curatorial project: curated selection of 20-30 items, accompanying main text, tombstones, and any extra didactics and extended object labels. May be presented as a Word doc or website, or utilize resources including SketchUp/3D modeling, Omeka, or HistoryPin. Fulfills CLO #1#2, and #3.

Students will also be expected to complete weekly reading assignments from the course textbook, as well as articles and sources linked from the Canvas course site.

Assignments will be due by 9 pm (Pacific) on the date indicated on the course calendar and must be submitted via Canvas. Discussions are due on the Sunday of the week listed, except for week 8, which is due on Monday, November 30 (the last day of class).

Course Calendar

1 10/5 - 10/11 Introduction to course/introduction to exhibitions  Discussion #1: Exhibition critique [NB: due to COVID-19, this will not require any in-person visits]
2 10/12 - 10/18  Early exhibition planning Discussion #2: Propose two exhibition topic ideas to class, give feedback to classmates' proposals
3 10/19 - 10/25  Exhibition script development

Discussion #3: Share exhibition proposal with class, give feedback to others

Exhibition proposal due 10/25

4 10/26 - 11/1  Object selection Discussion #4: Describe 1-2 key objects that are essential to your exhibition, and why 
5 11/2 - 11/8

 Writing for exhibitions

Discussion #5: Compose an extended didactic text about key exhibition object 
6 11/9 - 11/15  Challenging curatorial topics Discussion #6: Share an example of an exhibition or type of exhibition that could be challenging or controversial, and describe how these topics can best be approached 
7 11/16 - 11/22 Marketing and outreach for exhibitions Discussion #7: Share short promotional text, tweet, and title image; give feedback to classmates' posts 
8 11/23 - 11/30 Loans, traveling exhibitions, and other ambitious endeavors 

 Discussion #8: Hindsight/self-critique, with accompanying show-and-tell

Curatorial project due 11/30

Subject to change with fair notice.

Required Reading
In addition to the required textbook, additional readings will be available as PDFs and via databases accessible through the King Library. Please refer to the Canvas site for links and more information.

Please note that the textbook is often priced more affordably through the SAA Bookstore (in print and PDF versions) than via the Amazon link below.

Grading will be based on a total of 100 points, distributed as follows:

Assignment Point Value
Weekly Canvas discussions 40
Exhibition proposal 20
Curatorial project 40

A full rubric will be provided in Canvas to describe the expectations for each assignment.

One point will be deducted for every day that an assignment is late. Late work without penalty is only accepted with the prior consent of the instructor. All course materials must be completed by the last day of class.
Because discussion posts exist to foster a seminar-like dialog between colleagues, late discussion posts will not receive credit.

Incomplete grades cannot be granted unless iSchool administration has provided written authorization.

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 284 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Propose an exhibition drawn from archival materials.
  2. Develop an exhibition checklist and devise object layouts for exhibition.
  3. Conceptualize didactic texts appropriate for exhibition audiences.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 284 supports the following core competencies:

  1. D Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  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.


Required Textbooks:

  • Lacher-Feldman, J. L. (2013). Exhibits in archives and special collections libraries. Society of American Archivists. Available through SAA.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.