INFO 284-01
INFO 284-11
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Topic: Managing Photographic Collections
Fall 2021 Syllabus

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

Syllabus Links
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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.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This class will examine issues involving managing photographic collections in archives. Topics covered will include photographic process identification, visual literacy, arrangement and description, storage/preservation needs, access, reference, digitization, rights and reproductions, curation, and born-digital image archives.

Course Requirements

There are four assignments in this course, with one split into two parts. Students will complete a:

  • Processing assignment: Prepare a finding aid from a hypothetical collection with no original order (to be supplied by instructor) and a written explanation/justification. Two weeks prior to due date, student will submit a brief processing plan. Fulfills CLO #3.
  • Cataloging assignment: Catalog and assign metadata to a set of images (provided by the instructor). Fulfills CLO #1.
  • Research assignment: Write a short (3-5 page) research paper on any topic relevant to the class. Depending on focus/topic, may fulfill any of CLO #1#2#3, or #4.
  • Curatorial assignment: Select 10-15 images from a single online digital repository and write a 1-page didactic essay contextualizing the images, as would be done if the images were highlighted on an institution’s website or in a display space within a repository. Fulfills CLO #4.

In addition to these assignments, students are expected to participate in weekly Canvas discussion topics. Fulfills CLO #1, #2#3, and #4.

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.

Course Calendar

1 8/19 - 8/22 Introduction to course/history of photography
2 8/23 - 8/29 Identifying key photographic and negative processes
3 8/30 - 9/5 Handling, storage, and preservation of photographs and negatives
4 9/6 - 9/12 Arrangement and description
5 9/13 - 9/19

Archival appraisal in photographic collections
Processing plan due (9/19) 

6 9/20 - 9/26 Visual literacy
7 9/27 - 10/3 Subject access for visual collections
Processing assignment due (10/3)
8 10/4 - 10/10 Cataloging and metadata
9 10/11 - 10/17 Digitization
10 10/18 - 10/24 Born-digital photographic archives
11 10/25 - 10/31 Access
Cataloging assignment due (10/31)
12 11/1 - 11/7 Reference
13 11/8 - 11/14 Curation
Research assignment due (11/14)
14 11/15 - 11/21 Rights management
15 11/22 - 11/28 Bye week (no lecture/discussion)
16 11/29 - 12/6 Photographic archives in the 21st century
Curatorial assignment due (12/6)

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 now out of print and has been reissued affordably by SAA as an ePub and PDF. (You can buy the Kindle-compatible version on Amazon.)

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

Assignment Point Value
Weekly Canvas discussions 15
Processing assignment - processing plan 5
Processing assignment 20
Cataloging assignment 20
Curatorial assignment 20
Research assignment 20

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 work must be submitted 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. Understand and manage the complex issues relating to photograph digitization and born digital images, including management, access, metadata, and long-term preservation.
  2. Identify and understand preservation concerns among many common types of photographic print and negative processes.
  3. Apply archival rules of appraisal, arrangement, and description to complex visual archives.
  4. Apply research skills to visual archives for purposes of patron reference, image identification, and curatorial or collection research.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 284 supports the following core competencies:

  1. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  2. G Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information such as classification and controlled vocabulary systems, cataloging systems, metadata schemas or other systems for making information accessible to a particular clientele.
  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:

  • Ritzenthaler, M. L. & Vogt-O'Connor, D. (2006). Photographs: Archival care and management. Society of American Archivists. Available through Publisher as PDF or ePUBarrow 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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