School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 501: Foundations of Library and Information Studies

Course Outline
Fall 2016

Instructor: Michael B. McNally
Phone: (780) 492-3934
Office: 3-03 Rutherford South
Office hours: By appointment
Class times: Wednesdays: 9:00 a.m.11:50 p.m. in 3-01 Rutherford South

Calendar Description:
An introduction to the historical, current, and potential roles of libraries and of library and information professionals in western society.

Course Objectives:

  1. To provide students with an understanding of, and ability to articulate, the essence of the profession and the discipline of library and information studies.
  2. To provide students with an understanding of the professional ethics, values and standards, and how these shape policies in the library and information profession.
  3. To provide students with an understanding of where libraries and related agencies fit in the developing information infrastructure, and in related historical, social, cultural, economic, legal and political contexts.
  4. To introduce students to the literature of library and information studies, and the diversity of scholarly and research activity in the field.
  5. To acquaint students with major issues and trends in the LIS community.  

Measurable Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

After critical reading in the foundations of the field, students will demonstrate an understanding of major contributions (including leadership) to the development and diversity of the profession and discipline through a set of two papers and related formal and informal oral reporting.

After drawing upon library and information policies, students will interpret and critique professional ethics, values and standards through participation in hands-on exercises and collaborative activities.

After critical examination of library and information studies (and related) literature, students will identify and analyze major issues and trends in the LIS community through a literature review and opinion paper, in tandem with contributions to a group presentation and debate series.


Topics include the library infrastructure, history and mission of libraries, competencies needed by professionals, types of libraries and information agencies, current issues and trends, technological change, the ethics and values of the field, library and information science literature and research, and career planning.


Lectures, readings, discussion, working in teams, presentations and guest speakers.

Course Relationships:

No pre- or co- requisites required.

Required Texts:

Fred Lerner. The Story of Libraries: From the Invention of Writing to the Computer Age. New York: Continuum, 2009.

Assignments and Weighting:

Class Participation 10% 
Historical Persons Paper 15%–Due September 28
Reaction/Reader-Response Paper  20%–Due October 19
Knowledge Base of the Field Reflection 5%–Due November 2
Major Paper 40%–Due November 23
Group Presentation    10%–On November 30 and December 7

School of Library and Information Studies Grading Statement:

Grades reflect professional judgements of student achievement made by instructors. These judgements are based on a combination of absolute achievement and relative performance in class. The instructor should mark in terms of raw scores, rank the assignments in order of merit, and with due attention to the verbal descriptions of the various grades, assign an appropriate final letter grade.

Academic Integrity:

The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the university.

Students should also be mindful of the SLIS Copyright Policy.

Inclusive Language and Equity:

The Faculty of Education is committed to providing an environment of respect for all people within the university community and to educating faculty, staff, and students in developing teaching and learning contexts that are welcoming to all. The Faculty recommends that students and staff use inclusive language to create a classroom atmosphere in which students’ experiences and views are treated with equal respect and value in relation to their gender, racial background, sexual orientation and ethnic background. Students who require accommodations in this course due to a disability affecting mobility, vision, hearing, learning, or mental or physical health are advised to discuss their needs with Student Accessibility Services.

Recording of Lectures:

Recording of lectures is permitted only with the prior written consent of the professor or if recording is part of an approved accommodation plan.

Policy about course outlines can be found in Section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar.