School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 501 Foundations of Library and Information Studies
Course Outline

Fall 2018, Wednesday 9:00-11:50am, ED 170 (Education South 170)


Instructor: Michael B. McNally
5-171 Education North
Office hours
: Mondays 11:00am-12:00pm; Wednesdays 12:00-1:00pm, or by appointment


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):

Through readings, in class discussions, guest speaker presentations and written papers, students will be able to identify and discuss major issues and challenges in the field of librarianship (linked to PLOs 2 and 3).

Through readings, in class discussion, guest speaker presentations, a written paper and final presentation students will be able to identify and critically articulate the historical contribution of select figures in the history of LIS and understand the importance of ongoing advocacy to the long term success of the field (linked to PLOs 1, 2 and 5).

Through a paper comparing various scholarly outputs of SLIS faculty, students will be able to identify and contrast the variety of research and scholarly work undertaken within the LIS discipline (linked to PLO 1).

Relevant Course Program Level Learning Outcomes (PLOs):

1. Be familiar with the history, the philosophy, and the service orientation of libraries, librarianship, and related information environments; and understand the value of teaching, service, and research to the advancement of the field of library and information studies. 
Objective: students will appreciate the functions of librarians and information specialists within the larger global societal framework, and the factors influencing the creation, dissemination, and use of knowledge and information and the responsibility to serve all client groups.

2. Evince complex and ethical awareness of major issues, research, trends, and dilemmas in library and information studies.
Objective: students will, within appropriate institutional, organizational, or professional constructs be ready to debate local, national, and global information issues and policies in a cross-disciplinary, analog, or digital context that includes, but is not limited to the responsibility of librarians and information specialists with respect to the free flow of ideas and access to information.

3. Demonstrate critical thinking, analytical capacities, and problem-solving skills. 
Objective: students will possess the skills and theoretical knowledge necessary to evaluate and improve library and information systems and services.

5. Communicate effectively and professionally.
Objective: students will be prepared to flexibly articulate and adapt their education and ongoing contributions to different environments, (e.g., global/national level bodies, provincial/district level institutions, grassroots community groups) in line with principles, norms, and practices governing professional communication in the field.

Content: Topics include the orientation to the field and library and information science literature and research, career planning, ethics, literacy, orality, discourse, advocacy, types of library and information institutions, political economy of information, professional status, labour and information work, information science, traditional knowledge, Truth and Reconciliation, libraries and the public sphere, current and future trends.

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

Course Relationships: No pre- or co- requisites required.

Required Texts: None

Assignments and Weighting:

Class Participation                                                      10% - Ongoing throughout the term

Critical Issue Paper                                                     10% Due Sept. 12

Historical Person Paper                                               10% Due Oct. 3

Knowledge Base of the Field Reflection                      15% Due Oct. 31

Major Paper                                                                 40% Due Nov. 21

Group Presentation                                                      15% Due Dec. 5

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 Specialized Support and Disability 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.