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LIBR 281
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: Publishing for the Library and Information Science Profession
Frequently Asked Questions

Laurie Putnam

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When is the best time to take this class?
The first three core courses—LIBR 200 (Information and Society), 202 (Information Retrieval), and 204 (Information Organizations and Management)—are prerequisites. LIBR 285 (Research Methods) is not a prerequisite. WISE students must have completed their core coursework or the equivalent of SJSU SLIS's core.

The best time to take this class is in the latter half of your SLIS program, when you've already taken some electives, written lots of research papers, and had a chance to develop your own interests within the field. In this course you’ll be writing about topics and issues of your own choosing. It’s easier to do that if you’ve already had some exposure to library and information science issues beyond the core courses, either through SLIS electives or in your work life.

What is the workload going to be like?
You can expect to have some sort of assignment due each week, beginning the first week of class. Over the course of the semester, you’ll be completing a number of exercises and writing four articles, all of which will require research and thinking. You’ll be busy.

Is it realistic to take this class at the same time I’m doing my e-portfolio?
That depends on you. If you consider taking this course the same semester you are compiling your e-portfolio, keep in mind that both courses may be intensive experiences. For some people, that's not a problem at all. For other people—especially those who find that writing doesn’t come easily, or those who don’t have a lot of time available to devote to classes—it might be a bit overwhelming.

What will I write about? I’m not sure if I have “something to say.”
You'll have a lot of flexibility in your choice of subjects for the writing projects. If there's a library or information science topic you've already been investigating, you can take this opportunity to push your research and your thinking further along. If you have a general area of interest you’d like to explore—whether it’s the use of social networking technologies in libraries, the evolution of cataloging rules, or the need for more public library funding—you can take this opportunity to focus your research and write about what you learn. If you’ve identified gaps in your core competencies that might be supported by research and writing, you may be able to use this course to help develop and demonstrate your knowledge in those areas.

More important than the subjects you choose will be your ability to make a point and substantiate it with research, to present your ideas in clear and compelling ways, and to focus your writing for a particular audience. These are skills we can all improve.

There won’t be any group projects, will there?
No, no group projects. However, you will work in small teams to review and polish drafts of your papers. This peer-review work will be different from a group project because you and your team members won't be producing anything together and you won't be graded as a group. Peer reviews will count as part of your class participation.

The peer-review process can help you improve your own work and learn to be a good reviewer yourself. Every article you submit for publication will be reviewed by someone, so it helps to develop an understanding of what reviewers look for. In addition, at some point in your career you may contribute to a professional publication by serving as an editor, an editorial board member, or a reviewer. The ability to review other people's work and give constructive feedback is a useful skill to have.

Who is the instructor?
Laurie Putnam has been managing writers, editors, publications, and publishing departments for more than two decades. When she’s not teaching, Laurie runs a communications business in Monterey, California, where she leads the development of publications and communication programs for libraries, nonprofit organizations, and high-tech companies. Prior to forming her own business, Laurie was director of branding and marketing communications at Aspect Communications in San Jose.

Laurie has an MA in English from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, and an MLIS from San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science. Her own writing has appeared in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and journals, and many of her former students have successfully published their work in venues ranging from Library Journal to American Libraries, from Reference & User Services Quarterly to Children & Libraries.