INFO 231-10
Issues in Special Libraries and Information Centers
Summer 2021 Syllabus

Crystal Megaridis

Office Hours:  While I have no official office hours, I am readily available by phone or e-mail. My preferred method of contact is by e-mail, and then we can always set up a telephone call. I will normally respond within 24 hours. There may be a few occasions when I may be traveling and unavailable. You will be notified in advance of those days.

I would like to talk with each student individually at least once this semester. Feel free to coordinate a date and time with me. This is completely voluntary, but I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.

Syllabus Links
iSchool eBookstore
Canvas Login and Tutorials

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.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This course will investigate current issues that impact the functioning of special libraries/information centers. Topics covered will include issues related to social and political environments, clientele, services, collections, physical settings, financing and staffing, and future trends in the special library/information center sector. We will explore the different kinds of special libraries and the advantages and disadvantages of working in this part of the field. You will have the opportunity to learn about international special libraries if you choose.

Course Requirements

Students are encouraged to become familiar with professional association that support special librarians, such as the Special Libraries Association (SLA), and more importantly, their local chapters. Some assignments are face-to-face meetings with practicing special librarians, though alternative options to face-to-face will be available this semester due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The class assignments are listed below.

Getting acquainted video: (total of 2 points possible).

  • Use Studio (available in our classroom) to create a 2-3 minute introduction video and post to Canvas. Video must include captions for ADA compliance.

Unit Discussion Papers: (7 points each, 42 points possible)

  • Six different topics have been posted to the Canvas site. For each topic, view the lecture, read the assigned materials as well as at least two relevant self-selected papers on the topic. Write a 500-700 word essay on the topic and post on Canvas.
  • In order to receive full credit for the assignment, you must reply to at least two of your classmates' discussion papers by the comments due date. Your replies must be substantive in nature using your critical thinking and be at least two paragraphs in length.
  • You do not need to reply to the getting acquainted video, the interview, the professional event summary, or the fieldwork report or paper.

Interview Paper: (9 points possible).

  • Identify a special librarian who works in a special library of interest to you and ask to conduct an information interview with them, if possible, in person at their library. Discuss the major issues of our field. Write a 1,000 - 1,200 summary paper describing the interview and highlight what you have learned. Post it to Canvas. These papers may be submitted to your local SLA chapter newsletter for publication (with everyone's permission, of course). If appropriate, connect with your new special library contact(s) on LinkedIn.

Professional Event Paper: (9 points possible)

  • Research, identify and attend a local chapter meeting of a professional special library associate meeting of interest to you. Several associations are listed on our classroom site for you to use to identify an association of interest to you. Your assignment is to attend and introduce yourself to at least one new person and ask about their special library experiences. Write a 1,000 - 1,200 word summary of your experience at the event, including about what you learned from the person you met. Post it to Canvas. If appropriate, connect with your new special library contact(s) on LinkedIn.


  • Alternative assignment if Covid-19 pandemic does not allow attendance at an in-person event: Research, identify and attend an online chapter meeting of a special library association of interest to you. Several associations are listed on our classroom site for you to use to identify an association of interest to you. Your assignment is to reach out to the meeting coordinator or other member in advance to learn more about the association and attend the online chapter meeting. Write a 1,000 - 1,200 word summary of your discussion with the coordinator or other member as well as the highlights of what you have learned at the meeting. Post it to Canvas. If appropriate, connect with your new special library contact(s) on LinkedIn.

Fieldwork and report or Paper: (total of 38 points possible).

Each student will be expected to complete either a project at a fieldwork site or a research paper.  All reports must be posted to Canvas.

  • For the fieldwork choice: Student will identify a special library of interest and reach out to library director to request a volunteering opportunity. Assistance is available for finding fieldwork opportunities. Negotiate a potential project with the supervisor, as well as your instructor. For 2021, this may be a remote work project for the special library. Fieldwork project should be about 20-25 hours. Upon completion of the project, the student will prepare a written project review. This assignment will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
    • Purpose and scope of project
    • Explanation of the approach to and design of the project, along with the rationale for the approach taken
    • Description of specific methods and techniques used and why
    • Discussion of any problems encountered and how they were handled
    • Summary of the results of the project and how the project will benefit the fieldwork site
    • Evaluation of what you learned/accomplished by doing the project
    • Completeness of the report
    • Organizational ability
    • Your site supervisor's feedback


  • If you choose to write a research paper, these are the requirements:
    • Choose a topic that pertains to Special Libraries. You must get your instructor's approval of this topic.
    • Your paper must be double-spaced, 20-25 pages
    • Include your bibliography of sources
    • Example topics include: the impact of AI and other technologies in special libraries; trends in medical libraries; providing information in a multinational organization; current trends in special libraries; international special librarianship

Course Calendar

This calendar is subject to change with fair notice. The first column indicates the day the work is due to be posted on Canvas. A lecture corresponding to the topic of the discussion will precede the discussion paper due date. 

Due Assignment
 6/4/21 Getting Acquainted Video
6/9/21 Unit 1: What is a Special Library? What types are there? (7 possible points) - Supports CLO #1
6/16/21 Unit 2: Management (7 possible points) - Supports CLO #2
6/23/21 Unit 3: Marketing & Measurement (7 possible points) - Supports CLO #2


Unit 4: Risk Management (7 possible points) Supports CLO #2
7/7/21 Unit 5: Alternative Roles (7 possible points) - Supports CLO #2
7/14/21 Unit 6: Current and Future Trends (7 possible points) - Supports CLO #3
7/21/21 Interview Due (9 points possible) Supports CLO #3
7/28/21 Professional Event Summary (9 possible points) Supports CLO #4

Final paper - Fieldwork report or Research paper (38 points possible);  Supports CLO #1CLO #2

The following is a breakdown of the assignments and the grading scale. A full explanation of each assignment will appear on Canvas.

Assignment Possible Points
Introduction Video 2 points
Canvas discussions on readings 7 points each for a total of 42 points
Interview paper 9 points
Professional Event paper 9 points
Research paper or Fieldwork 

38 points

Total points 100 points

Extra credit
There is no extra credit for this class.

Late Work
Late work will only be accepted with prior approval of instructor.

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

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Describe the characteristics of special libraries and information centers and the variety of environments in which they are found.
  2. Identify the organizational and operational issues associated with special libraries and information centers and related types of information services.
  3. Analyze and evaluate issues and trends within the special library environments.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the value of and opportunities for professional networking within the special library community.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 231 supports the following core competencies:

  1. B Describe and compare organizational settings in which information professionals practice.
  2. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.


Recommended Textbooks:

  • Hirsh, S. (Ed.) (2018). Information services today: An introduction (2nd ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. Available as free eBook through King Libraryarrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Kelsey, S. E., & Porter, M. J. (Eds.). (2011). Best practices for corporate libraries. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1598847376 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Matarazzo, J. , & Pearlstein, T. (Eds.). (2017). The Emerald handbook of modern information management. Emerald Publishing. Available as free eBook through King Libraryarrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Matthews, J.R. (2002). The bottom line: Determining and communicating the value of the special library. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 159150048. 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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