INFO 284-14
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Special Collections (2-units)
Summer 2021 Syllabus

Colleen Theisen, MSI
Office Location: Virtual
Office Hours: Virtual, by appointment

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning June 1st 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 2-unit course runs from June 3rd - July 29th. It will be available on Canvas on June 3.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

Info 284 includes 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 284-14 section is a focused intensive examination of the history, practical reality, and ethics of working in special collections in the digital age, made clear with comparison to intersecting issues in archives and museum environments. This will include an overview of the development, management, preservation, use of, and access to special collections formats such as rare books, archives, manuscripts, photographs, artist’s books, and documents, as well the impacts of shifting into digital collections and access. An overall examination of the work and job functions in special collections will be embedded in an examination, analysis, and critique of the development of the field and the standard day-to-day practices as we build an inclusive future for the profession(s).

The work in the course will consist of video lectures, weekly readings drawn from the textbook, professional standards and guidelines, as well as YouTube videos and supplemental blogs and news articles. There will be weekly discussion board posts and discussion as well as a short weekly written reflection or assignment.   

Course Requirements


Assignments must be of graduate standard which means:

  • Check your work and correct grammatical and spelling errors before submitting.
  • All work is handed in on time, with any challenging circumstances needing flexibility being arranged in advance.
  • Credit is given to the sources of your information including texts, lectures, or classmates.

This course has weekly response/analysis assignments:

There are weekly discussions (CLO#1, CLO#2, CLO#3) two quizzes, and final essay (CLO#1, CLO#2). 

Course Calendar

Subject to change with advanced notice:



Topics, Readings, Assignments, Deadlines 


June 3-9

Introduction to Special Collections Librarianship and the Profession(s): Then and Now

  • Weekly Discussion: What is Special Collections Librarianship? Due June 6th & 8th (40 points)
  • Weekly Assignment: Then and Now: Due June 9th (80 points)


June 10-16

Collections: Rare Materials & Formats

  • Discussion: TBD, Due June 13 & 15th (40 points)
  • Quiz: The Parts of a Book, Due: June 16th (20 points)
  • Weekly Assignment: Digital Rare Book Analysis, Due June 16th (80 points)


June 17-23

Reading Rooms, Reference, and Security

  • Discussion: Welcome vs. Security in Reading Room Spaces, Due: June 20 & 22nd (40 points)
  • Weekly Assignment: Reference Website Analysis, Due: June 23rd (80 points)


June 24-30

Collection Analysis, Collection Management, and Acquisitions

  • Discussion: One of Everything? Due June 27th & 29th (40 points)
  • Weekly Assignment: Spend this money – fast! Due June 30th (80 points)


July 1-7

Cataloging, Description, and Metadata

An Overview of Ethics for Special Collections Professionals

  • Discussion: Ethical Challenges Due July 5th & 6th (40 points)
  • Weekly Assignment: MPLP Analysis Due July 7th (80 points)


July 8-14

Digitization & Online Collections

  • Discussion: Guest Response, Due: July 11th & 13th (40 points)
  • Weekly Assignment: Online Exhibition Analysis/Review Due July 14th (80 points)


July 15-21

Instruction in Special Collections and the Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy

  • Discussion: Shifting Special Collections Instruction Online, Due July 18th and 20th (40 points)
  • Weekly Assignment: NARA or LOC Photo Analysis Worksheet, Due July 21st (80 points)


July 22-28

Preservation, Conservation, and Disaster Planning

  • Discussion: Last Chance Discussion, Due July 25th and 27th (40 points)
  • Preservation/conservation Quiz: Due July 28th (20 points)

Final Assignment


Putting it All Together, Due by July 29th (80 points)


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) (8x30 points each) = 240 points
  • Weekly short assignment (Due Thursdays) (7x80 points each) = 560 points
  • Quiz (2x20) = 40 points
  • Final assignment = 80 points

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

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. Arrangements can be made in special circumstances with prior approval.

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.

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:

  • Cullingford, A. (2017). The special collections handbook (2nd ed.). Facet Publishing. Available through Amazon: 1783301260arrow 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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