LIBR 287-13
Seminar in Information Science
Topic: Games and Libraries
Fall 2009 Greensheet

Dr. Henry Lowood
E-mail (NOTE: Please put LIBR 287 at the beginning of the subject header in all e-mail about the course.)
Phone: 650-723-4602
Office: HRG, Green Library, Stanford University
IM: liebenwalde (xfire or; blutwalde (World of Warcraft); Liebenwalde Ware (Second Life); Facebook
Office Hours: Please schedule appointments, which will occur on-line. If you prefer a telephone conversation, please set up an appt. to call me. If you are in the area, I would be happy to meet with you at my Stanford office.
Group Discussions: Mandatory on-line sessions (not Elluminate, venues TBD): 9/25, 10/9, 10/23, 11/6 (7-9pm PST).  Details TBD in class. 

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

We will be using ANGEL as our course management system for the syllabus, course materials, assignments, and grading. Please enroll in ANGEL no later than Monday, 24 August, which is the first day of the course. Course materials, the initial assignment and reading will be made available on that day.  This will be my first time using ANGEL, so please excuse any initial problems; if I am required to send you a password access code, I will do that via the MYSJSU messaging system by Monday, 24 August.

Course Description

In this course, we will examine the impact of a new medium on libraries: computer and video games, including simulations and virtual worlds. Our subject matter is relatively new in terms of the medium, its impact on libraries, and research on its nature and impact. Due to this novelty and the likelihood that we are not all equally familiar with digital games, we will proceed in stages that will help us all get up to the same speed. (Note: This course does not assume more than very rudimentary familiarity with digital games, or games in general.) In the first stage, roughly the first third of the course, the focus will be on learning about games, game technology, players, and game studies through readings, discussion, and assignments. In the second stage, we will narrow the focus to topics geared more to an understanding of the impact of games on libraries – as collections, as part of a revised understanding of users and uses of libraries, and as a potential source new library application through game design and technologies. The last stage of the class will be devoted to final projects; you will have the option of preparing a research paper, if you are interested in game studies, or a project proposal (e.g., a collection development plan, a preservation plan, or a service utilizing elements of game design) if you are more interested in the practical impact of games on libraries.

Course Objectives

  • Demonstrate effective use of a selection of common game technologies, tools, resources, and community sites.
  • Have a basic understanding of game genres, player culture and communities, and the game industry.
  • Have a basic understanding of the main directions of research in game studies.
  • Demonstrate understanding of issues, potential characteristics and possible uses of game collections (including basic preservation issues) and game-based services in libraries.
  • Propose a game-based library project and how to evaluate its effectiveness. This will be demonstrated through the completion of a course project, either a game collection proposal, including service model; a research paper on a game studies issue, or a proposal for a library service inspired by game cultures, technologies, or designs.

This course will fulfill the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use;
  • apply the fundamental principles of planning, management and marketing/advocacy;
  • use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information;
  • demonstrate proficiency in the use of current information and communication technologies, and other related technologies, as they affect the resources and uses of libraries and other types of information providing entities;
  • understand the nature of research, research methods and research findings; retrieve, evaluate and synthesize scholarly and professional literature for informed decision-making by specific client groups; and
  • evaluate programs and services on specified criteria.

Course Requirements

All required readings, assignments, and course resources will be specified on the course ANGEL site, with the schedule and weekly breakdown of assignments. You are expected to complete all of the assignments.

Assignments will break down into three categories:

  1. Five (5) mini-assignments worth 8 points each (40 pts. total). These will be short written exercises (250-500 words) in response to prompts.
  2. Ten (10) micro-assignments worth 2 points each (20 pts. total). These will be tasks requiring visits to websites, game-related activities, posting or response to community sites, etc.
  3. Two (2) project assignments worth 5 points each (10 pts. total). These are part of the process of completing the final project assignment and are intended to keep you on-pace towards timely completion of the project.
  4. The final project worth 30 points (30 pts. total).

Course Schedule and Calendar
The course will be held entirely on-line and thus is organized on a weekly basis. Every Monday at 8am, assignments from the previous week are due. Example: The first week begins on Monday, 24 August; the micro-assignment for that week must be completed by 8am on Monday, 31 August.

By my calculation, the course lasts 15 weeks. The first five or six weeks will be devoted to basic knowledge of game design, game culture, game technology, and research (game studies). The next four or five weeks will be devoted to game-related library issues, ranging from library collections and preservation to the deployment of game design in library services or implications from game studies relevant to library use of games. The final five weeks of the course will be devoted to your individual projects.

During the first ten weeks of the course, there will be weekly assignments: one mini-assignment every other week and one micro-assignment every week. During the last five weeks of the course, it is expected that you will focus on your projects; the two projects due during that time will help you to make steady progress towards that goal.

Again, details concerning readings, assignments, and course resources will be on our ANGEL site. Note that all course information is provided subject to change with fair notice.

Points will be assigned after grading of assignments. These points will be cumulated at the end of the course. For the final course grades, I reserve the right to recalculate the grades on a 100-point scale; the recalculation will result in a median grade of 88-93, depending on my assessment of the group’s performance. However, this recalculation will not result in a lower grade than what you would have earned according to the scale below. Let me put this another way: If you all do fantastic work and end up with more than 94 points, you will all get an A or A- grade; if I turn out to be a tough grader and the resulting class median is 75, I reserve the right to make an adjustment. However, I do not promise this adjustment; if the median reflects class performance, then I will stick with those numbers. In any case, points on the 100-point scale will translate into grades per the scale below.

Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbook:

  • Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S. & Smith, J. H. & Tosca, S. P. (2008). Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction. New York and Routledge. Available through Amazon: 0415977215. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Galloway, B. (2009). Game on: Gaming at the Library. Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 1555705952. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Gee, J. P. (2007). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (2d ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. Available through Amazon: 1403984530. 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;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — 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 the following semester. 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.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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