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LBR 200: Information Literacy (Spring 2014)

Wednesdays 1:10-3:40
Library Classroom, 1st floor, Fogler Library

Basic Information | Course_Assignments & Grading | Course Outline

Instructor Martin Wallace
Science & Engineering Center Librarian
Fogler Library
Office Hour Library Classroom
Wednesdays 12:00-1:00, or by appointment

Basic Information

Please note: This syllabus is subject to change. I will announce any changes in class. Students are responsible for staying informed of the changes.

Course Description:

This course will provide undergraduate students with both a theoretical approach to the flow of information and the skills necessary to navigate the many kinds of information resources available today. In addition, students will better understand the role of information in today’s society. By developing critical thinking skills concerning the production of information and how information is organized, the foundation will be laid for improved research strategies and life-long intellectual growth.

Course Texts:

Lessig, Lawrence. Code Version 2.0. New York: Basic Books (2006). Note: This book is available for free online in several places.

Mann, Thomas. The Oxford Guide to Library Research: How to Find Reliable Information Online and Offline [3rd ed.]. New York: Oxford University Press (2005). Note: This book should be available at the bookstore in January.

Course Objectives:

  • Students will be able to identify and articulate their information needs.
  • Students will examine and become familiar with specific information resources in a variety of formats. These will include, but will not be limited to, the Internet, other electronic formats, and print. The students will gain hands-on experience navigating these resources.
  • Students will develop awareness of the legal, economic, social, and public policy aspects of information resources.
  • Students will become familiar with the strengths and limitations of different types of information resources and the media through which these resources are presented.
  • Students will learn strategies for the critical evaluation of information resources, including assessing the reliability of a resource and determining the biases and viewpoints that are inherent in any resource.
  • Students will learn how to structure and implement their own research strategies.
  • Students will use information effectively to accomplish specific goals.


Each class session will be devoted to 1 to 3 performance indicators in information literacy, as outlined in the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, plus one or more special topics designed to familiarize students with information services and resources. The first half of each session will be class discussion of the topics of the day as well as reviewing any assignments that are due. The second half of the session will be devoted to in-class exercises. Most of these will be accomplished through small group work.

Attendance is crucial to successful completion of the course for each participant and therefore students are expected to be present at each class meeting. Absences from the class may effect the student's grade. In the case of unexpected circumstances, students should contact the instructor by phone or e-mail before the class meets to let the instructor know that you will not be attending class that day. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.

For planned absences, students are expected to hand in any assignments for that week prior to the absence. Plenty of notice should be given for planned absences.

Students will submit assignments on the designated due dates. Late assignments will not be accepted for grading. The instructor will provide feedback for all assignments.

Students and the instructor will share responsibility for discussion and facilitation of class meetings. Please keep up with the weekly reading assignments and come to class prepared to talk about them. Students are expected to participate fully in classroom discussions.

For group exercises, each student will be expected to participate fully in collecting and organizing information and recording and reporting findings. The group as a whole will accomplish the exercises for that session, with one member of the group taking notes and another member reporting the results to the whole class. It is expected that all students will serve as group reporter and spokesperson at least once during the semester.

Students will contact the instructor with questions. We will be using the University of Maine’s FirstClass in this course. Access to FirstClass is available to all students in the computer clusters on campus or may be accessed online. The instructor will use FirstClass to post class announcements and other information. Students will use FirstClass when communicating with the instructor and with other students in the class.

Required Reading:

There will be readings most weeks. Readings will be listed below the course outline roughly one week prior to their assignment. While most of the readings will be available online, some readings can only be found in print and will require spending some time in the library with the print materials. Students are responsible for all of the course readings, so please come prepared to each class having read the material for that day. Please notify the instructor on FirstClass if you encounter a link to an online reading assignment that is broken.

Academic Honesty (Plagiarism, etc.):

Academic honesty is very important. It is dishonest to cheat on exams, to copy term papers, to submit papers written by another person, to fake experimental results, or to copy or reword parts of books or articles into your own papers without appropriately citing the source. Students committing or aiding in any of these violations may be given failing grades for an assignment or for an entire course, at the discretion of the instructor. In addition to any academic action taken by an instructor, these violations are also subject to action under the University of Maine Student Conduct Code. The maximum possible sanction under the student conduct code is dismissal from the University.

Accommodation of Disabilities:

If you wish to request an accommodation for a disability, please contact either the instructor or Ann Smith ( Director of Disability Support Services (East Annex 123 , extension 2319) as early as possible in the semester.

H1N1 Statement:

In the event of disruption of normal classroom activities due to an H1N1 swine flue outbreak, the format for this course may be modified to enable completion of the course. In that event, you will be provided an addendum to this syllabus that will supersede this version.

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Course Assignments and Grading

Grading Scale

This course uses the following grading scale:

Points Grade
90-100 A
80-89 B
70-79 C
0-69 F

Course Journal - 50 points

Each student will submit a course journal at the end of the semester. I am very interested in learning about what students personally take away from this course, and I expect students to mindfully participate in all exercises and assignments while sharing their personal thoughts and experiences on the subject matter in their journals. Journals will be reviewed periodically over the course of the semester. I am the only one who will view the journals. Additional requirements for the journal will be discussed during the second class session.

Journals will be assessed according to a grading rubric that is available to students. Students will be awarded up to 50 points for meeting all the criteria outlined in the rubric. Extra credit may be awarded for exceptional journals.

Exams - 40 points  (20 points each)

There will be two exams as noted in the course outline. Exams will be based on readings, homework assignments, class exercises, and class discussion. The midterm exam will be taken in-class; the final exam will be take-home, with one week for completion. Both exams are cumulative.

Homework Assignments - 10 points

Most weeks there will be a homework assignment designed to familiarize students with the topics of the following week. There will be ten homework assignments, each worth one point toward the final grade. Students will receive credit for completed or partially comleted/attempted assignments. Although homework accounts for a small portion of the final grade, students may find it difficult to successfully complete the exams or to submit a complete course journal without also completing the homework.

It is very important to complete all assignments on time in order to fully participate in class discussions. Questions or concerns about any assignment should be asked in class or by contacting me before the assignment's due date. Homework assignments will not be accepted late.

Attendance and Participation

It is expected that students will participate both in class discussion on the topic of the day and during the in-class exercises. It is very important to attend all classes and to complete the weekly assigned readings and all other assignments. Because there are only fourteen class sessions, each session must cover a variety of topics; missing one class is equivalent to missing two sessions of a regular M-W or T-Th class. Students with more than one unexcused absence will be docked five points per absence from their final grade.

Extra Credit

By mid-semester I will assign an optional extra credit activity that will be due by end of semester. The assignment will require giving a presentation or writing a brief paper on a selected current event, through the lens of information literacy. The activity is intended to give students a chance to apply information literacy skills learned in this course to a real-world scenario.

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Course Outline

Week Date Read Before Class Homework Due In Class
1 Jan. 15 N/A N/A
  • Review syllabus
  • Course overview (slides)
  • Library tour
  • Pre-test (ungraded)
2 Jan. 22 Information literacy standards Let's buy a car!
3 Jan. 29 Information overload & information anxiety Critical views of Wikipedia
  • Interlibrary loan presentation and signup for ILLiad with guest Greg Curtis
  • Fogler Library website demonstration (slides)
  • Review homework assignment 2
  • Information overload & information anxiety
4 Feb. 5 Encyclopedias
No homework due this week.
  • Class Canceled for Snow
5 Feb. 12 Subject Headings and Library Catalogs Concept Maps
  • Presentation on avoiding plagiarism, proper citation, and using style guides with guest Cynthia Crosser (Handout)
  • Course Journal Review
  • Encyclopedias & Wikipedia (Slides)
  • Group activity: Finding subject encyclopedias at Fogler Library
  • Demonstration of various reference tools
6 Feb. 19 Google Scholar Evaluating Information Sources
  • RefWorks presentation and signup with guest Mel Johnson (Handout)
  • Recap plagiarism, citing work and style guides (Slides)
  • Discuss annotated bibliographies
  • Subject Headings v. Keyword Searching (Slides)
  • Group activity: Translating Topics into LC Subject Headings, 4 ways
  • Evaluating Information Sources (Slides)
  • Review for midterm
7 Feb. 26 No new reading this week No homework due this week
8 Mar. 19 Cited Reference Searching, Peer Review and Evidence Based Research Cited Reference Searching
9 Mar. 26 Scholarly Databases Finding Evidence for a Social, Scientific or Consumer Issue
  • Away for conference, Jim Bird will be there in my place.
  • Tour of Archives and Special Collections with Desirée Butterfield-Nagy
  • Group activity TBA
  • Review and discuss Homework Assignment 6
  • Evaluation of Scholarly Databases (Handout)
10 Apr. 2 Database Evaluation and Search Strategies
11 Apr. 9 Intellectual Property Patents, Trademarks and Copyright

No homework due this week
12 Apr. 16 Transparency and Access to Information Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request
13 Apr. 23 Privacy, Accountability, Anonymity Privacy Act Request
14 Apr. 30 N/A N/A
  • Maine Day
  • No class session
  • Final Exam emailed to class
15 May 7 N/A
  • Turn in materials
  • Post-test (ungraded)
  • Course Evaluation

Weekly Reading Assignments

Students should arrive to class having read the materials and ready to discuss them on the indicated date.

Week 2

  1. Beacons of the Information Society: The Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning
  2. Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education [Read the sections "Information Literacy Defined" (pages 2-3) and "Standards, Performance Indicators and Outcomes" (pages 8-14).]
  3. Naughton, John. "The Internet: Everything You Ever Need to Know." The Observer, June 19, 2010.

Week 3

  1. Maestretti, Danielle. "Information Overload: In the Google Age, Media Literacy is Crucial—and in Short Supply." Shelf Life [blog]. Utne Reader (July-August 2009).
  2. Bawden, David, and Lyn Robinson. "The Dark Side of Information: Overload, Anxiety and Other Paradoxes and Pathologies." Journal of Information Science 35, no. 2 (2009): 180-91.
  3. Rosenzweig, Roy. "Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past." Journal of American History 93, no. 1 (June 2006): 117-146.

Week 4

  1. Bell, David A. "What We’ve Lost With the Demise of Print Encyclopedias." New Republic [online]. March 19, 2012:
  2. Clemmitt, Marcia. "Internet Accuracy." CQ Researcher 18, no. 27 (August 1, 2008): 625-48.
  3. Mann, Thomas. "Initial Overviews: Encyclopedias," in The Oxford Guide to Library Research, 1-17. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  4. Robbins, Martin. "Is the PR Industry Buying Influence Over Wikipedia?" Here Be Dragons [blog]. Oct. 18 2013:

Week 5

  1. Online Library Learning Center: The Library of Congress Classification System (LC)
  2. Mann, Thomas. "Subject Headings and the Library Catalog," in The Oxford Guide to Library Research, 18-40. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  3. Mann, Thomas. "Will Google's Keyword Searching Eliminate the Need for LC Cataloging and Classification?" Journal of Library Metadata. 8, no. 2 (2008):159-168.

Week 6

  1. "About Google Scholar." Google, [Read the sections "About," "Search," "Citations," "Publishers," and "Libraries."]
  2. Carr, Nicholas. "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" Atlantic Monthly 302, no. 1 (2008): 56-63.
  3. Walters, William H. "Comparative Recall and Precision of Simple and Expert Searches in Google Scholar and Eight Other Databases." portal: Libraries and the Academy 11, no. 4 (2011): 971-1006. [You may skip the "Methods" and "Results" sections (pages 976-1000); read everything before and after those sections.]

Week 8

Citation Searching

  1. Mann, Thomas. "Citation Searching," in The Oxford Guide to Library Research, 120-129. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Peer Review

  1. UNH peer review tutorial:
  2. Altman, Lawrence K. "When Peer Review Produces Unsound Science." New York Times, Jun 11, 2002, 6.
  3. Enserink, Martin. "Elsevier to Editor: Change Controversial Journal or Resign." Science 327, no. 5971 (2010): 1316.
  4. Steinhauser, Georg, et al. "Peer review versus editorial review and their role in innovative science." Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 33, no. 5 (2012): 359-376.

Evidence-based Practice

  1. Schardt, Conni, and Jill Mayer. "Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice Tutorial." [Read only the sections under the "2. Acquire" and "3. Appraise" tabs.]

Weeks 9-10

  1. Mann, Thomas. "Boolean Combinations and Search Limitations," in The Oxford Guide to Library Research, 153-175. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  2. ArticleLinker tutorial.
  3. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) Frequently Asked Questions. [Read the sections "General information" and "For users."]
  4. EBSCOhost: Watch the tutorials. [Only view the tutorials in the 2nd box, labeled EBSCOhost Tutorials.]
  5. McLellan, Faith. "1966 and All That-When Is a Literature Search Done?" Lancet 358, no. 9282 (2001): 646.
  6. Mikki, Sussane. "Comparing Google Scholar and ISI Web of Science for Earth Sciences." Scientometrics 82, no. 2 (2010): 321-31.
  7. Web of Science: read Databases and Search Rules.

Week 11

  1. Lessig, Lawrence. "Intellectual Property." In Code 2.0, 169-199. New York: Basic Books, 2006.
  2. Gratz, Joseph. "Digital Book Distribution: The End of the First-Sale Doctrine?." Landslide 3, no. 5 (May/June 2011).
  3. U.S. Copyright Office: Copyright Basics and Copyright Searching Tutorial.
  4. Hirtle, Peter B. "Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States." 2011.

Week 12

  1. Coglianese, Cary. "The Transparency President? The Obama Administration and Open Government." Governance 22, no. 4 (2009): 529-44.
  2. Holdren, John P. "Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research."
  3. Joseph, Heather. "Public Access to Federally Funded Research: Contributions to Economic Development, Competitiveness, and Innovation." RLI: Research Library Issues, no. 273 (2010): 26-33,
  4. Onsrud, Harlan. "The Tragedy of the Information Commons."
  5. (25 minute video) Why Our Internet Access Is Slow, Costly and Unfair. Moyers & Company. February 8, 2013
  6. "Your Right to Federal Records: Questions and Answers on the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice; Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget; GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications, Federal Citizen Information Center; U.S. General Services Administration, 2009,
  7. (Optional 16 minute video) FBI labels FOIA superhero Ryan Shapiro’s dissertation a threat to national security. Free Gov Info. March 25, 2014. There are also some links to related stories under the video.

Week 13

  1. Akdeniz, Yaman. "Anonymity, Democracy, and Cyberspace." Social Research 69.1 (2002): 223-237.
  2. Waldo, James. "Executive Summary." Engaging privacy and information technology in a digital age (2007): 1-15.
  3. Lessig, Lawrence. "Privacy." In Code 2.0, 200-232. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

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Created by: Martin Wallace | Revised: 04/29/2014

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