INFO 220-11 (2-Units)
Resources and Information Services in the Disciplines and Professions - Maps & GIS
Spring 2021 Syllabus

Susie Aber, Ph.D.
Office location: online from Emporia, Kansas [Central Time (CT)]
Office Hours: Available by appointment using email, phone, and text. I will respond within 48 hours unless I am traveling; I will post travel schedules in advance.

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 27th at 6 am PT and ends May 17th unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the course will open on the first day that the class meets.

INFO 220-11 is a special, intensive 2-unit course beginning February 8, 6 am PT. The course is 8 weeks and ends on April 9, which is considering the following days off: Spring Break, March 29-April 2, and Cesar Chavez Day, March 31. 

It is delivered via the Canvas learning management system. You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This course is the examination of geospatial resources for, and services to, professions and disciplines. Specifically, geoliteracy is defined and explored since maps communicate visually on a grid in print or digital formats. You will get to know the information needs of people who use maps and duties of map librarians who help to locate maps, geospatial data and imagery. Stated another way...
While we are comfortable communicating in work and play across distances tethered to a phone, in the past landline phones tied us to place. Today, we are on the move with mobile cell technology.  Cellular phones compel us to ask… Where are you?  While you know you are here, how does someone else find the path to get there?  If map comes to mind, then you are thinking like a cartographer who studies and creates maps of regional variation in human activity as well as flora and fauna, rocks and stars, weather and natural disasters, and more.

Cartographers work to record routes, describe and illustrate patterns, and show change over time from historic to current landscapes using maps and geospatial data. This is accomplished in graphical terms, coordinated with an imaginary grid draped over Earth or even the night sky, as well as map scale, directional arrow, and legend explanation. Yet today with the plethora of online mapping programs and software as well as access to satellites and global positioning systems, the question is not what cartography is, rather how can we be cartographers and where might we find resources needed to orient us and create maps? A Map/GIS librarian's job is to become familiar with geospatial resources to connect people with maps through their geospatial services.

No prior knowledge of geography or geoscience, in general, is assumed. All students are welcome whether or not you find your way using global positioning system technologies or familiar landmarks. This course will benefit the geospatially challenged and geography bee winner alike.

Course Requirements

Course Format

The course will be conducted on Canvas. Expectations include studying required textbook readings and webpage lectures. Coursework assignments are three main projects and creating one social media presentation to accompany one project. Coursework also includes weekly online Discussion Forum posting tasks. All assignments must be submitted on or before posted due dates. You may request a one-week extension for Project 3 in advance. Details are found on the course Canvas site.

Graduate-level work is expected, which includes well-organized, correct grammar/spelling for assignments. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Citations and references must be in APA 7th edition reference style format.


  • Project 1: Non-Librarian User & Uses of Maps & GIS is focused on information-seeking behaviors & supports CLO #1 and CC J.
    Students will recognize characteristics of map & GIS users, excluding librarians from your study, when holding informal conversations and demonstrating competency by:
    • describing types and formats of geospatial resources needed
    • identifying how these maps & data resources are used
  • Project 2: Duties of Map & Geospatial Librarians is focused on services provided & supports CLO #2 & 3 and CC J.
    Students will hold informal conversations with a map/GIS librarians and demonstrate competency by:
    • identifying what is done to help map & GIS users
    • describing resource types and formats available in the library
    • detailing methods used to find and acquire resources off-site
  • Project 3: Promoting map and GIS services & resources supports CLO #4 and CC H.
    Students will review the results of earlier projects to design a plan for promoting maps in library settings and demonstrating competency by:
    • creating a guide for highlighting geospatial resources and services at a library OR a tutorial guide with detailed instructions on using maps/GIS or mapping programs
  •  Discussion Forum Participation/Communication is a weekly commitment & supports  CLO #3 and CC H.
    Students will identify geospatial resources provided by governments, commercial companies & individuals, demonstrating competency by:
    • finding sources for historic, propaganda, imaginary, and traditional maps as well as aerial phtotography
    • citing passages from the textbook, lectures, and supporting literature in discussion postings
    • communicating via social media/video summary of one of the 3  projects listed above.

Course Required and Recommended Readings

The required textbook for this course covers map librarianship and geoliteracy:
Aber, S. E. W., & Aber, J. W. (2017). Map librarianship: A guide to geoliteracy, map and GIS resources and services. Cambridge, MA: Elsevier/Chandos Publishing. Although you are not required to use these resources in this course, if map librarianship is your specialization choice, recommended books include:

  • Dodsworth, E.H. (2018). A research guide to cartographic resources: Print and electronic sources. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Dodsworth, E. & Nicholson, A. (2015). Using Google Earth in libraries: A practical guide for librarians. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Dodsworth, E. & Laliberte, L.W. (2014). Discovering and using historical geographic resources on the Web: A practical guide for librarians. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Dodsworth, E. (2012). Getting started with GIS: A LITA guide. NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Abresch, J., Hanson, A., Heron, S.J., & Reehling, P.J. (2008). Integrating geographic information systems into library services: A guide for academic libraries. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publisher.

Course Calendar

This 2-unit course is from Monday, February 8 to Saturday, April 9, 2019. The calendar below is a guide and subject to change with fair notice. ZOOM sessions will be available (exact dates/times TBA).

Calendar - Dates, Topics, Readings, & Assignments

Module 1: Maps & GIS Resources – User Needs
Project 1: Information-seeking Behaviors: User & Uses of Maps & GIS -- This excludes librarians!
Written report due on or before 3/1 (You have 3 weeks to complete starting today!)

Week 1

Welcome & Introduction to the Course
Readings – Preface & Chapter 1, Online Lecture1
DF01: Intro to YOU & Map Use – Post on or before 2/17 (3 pts)

Week 2 
Defining Concepts-Maps & Geoliteracy
Readings - Chapters 2-3, Online Lecture 2
DF02:  Geoliteracy-What does it involve? - Post on or before 2/24 (4 pts)
Week 3

GIS & Remote Sensing
Readings - Chapters 4-5, Online Lecture 3
DF03: WEB GIS, VGI- How it is Used - Post on or before 3/3 (3 pts)
DUE- Project 1: Information-seeking Behaviors: User & Uses of Maps & GIS. Librarians are excluded from this study.
Written report due by 3/1 (23 pts)

Module 2: Map & GIS Librarians - Duties & Services
Project 2:  Duties of Map & Geospatial Librarians

Written report due on or before 3/22 (You have 3 weeks to complete.)
Week 4

Map & Geospatial Librarianship
Readings - Chapter 6, Online Lecture 4
DF04: Variety of Map/GIS Services – Post on or before 3/10 (3 pts)

Week 5 
Navigating Labyrinth of Cartographic Resources
Readings - Chapter 7, Online Lecture 5
DF05: Aerial Photography, Globes & More – Post on or before 3/17 (4 pts)
Week 6
Reference Desk Basics
Readings - Chapter 8, Online Lecture 6
DF06: Map/GIS Reference/LibGuide Services –Post on or before 3/24 (3 pts)
DUE- Project 2:  Duties Map & Geospatial Librarians
Written report due 3/22 (24 pts)
Module 3: Map Libraries - Analyzing User Experience-Promoting Maps
Project 3: Promoting Map/GIS Services & Resources
Project DUE on or before 4/9 (You have 2 weeks to complete; with a 1-week extension
possible upon request in advance of due date.)

Week 7

Collections & Classifying/Cataloging
Readings - Chapters 9-10, Online Lecture 7
DF07: User Experiences -Post on or before 4/4 (3 pts)
Official Spring Break & Cesar Chevez Day: 3/29 through 4/2
Week 8

Promoting & Preserving Resources & Services
Readings - Chapter 11, Online Lecture 8

DUE- Project 3: Promoting Map/GIS Services & Resources (due 4/9 or if needed, a one-week extension will be granted an advanced request, due 4/16) (23 pts)
4/9 Congratulations! You did it and time to Celebrate!


       Assignment Evaluation      
Project 1: Written Report  23 points
Project 2: Written Report  24 points
Project 3: Written Report  23 points
Discussion Forum Tasks  23 points
Participation/Communication  7 points

Late Assignments

  • Late assignments will be accepted with a prior request/consent; late assignments may result in a grade penalty.


  • Incompletes assigned only in extreme cases of documented family or medical emergency within the final days of the course.

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 220 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Recognize the characteristics of map users and use of cartographic resources and services.
  2. Locate and use cartographic and geospatial information, data resources, and technologies.
  3. Describe the reference services and duties of map and geospatial librarians.
  4. Explain and promote map and GIS tools and resources to users.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 220 supports the following core competencies:

  1. H Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.
  2. 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:

  • Aber, S. W., & Aber, J. W. (2017). Map librarianship: A guide to geoliteracy, map and GIS resources and services. Elsevier: Chandos Publishing. Available through Amazon: B01N02HY7Xarrow 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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