School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 501: Foundations of Library and Information Studies

Course Outline
Fall 2018

Instructor: Dr. Adam Worrall
(780) 492-0179
5-168 Education North
Office hours
: Virtually, 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:

  • To provide students with an understanding of, and ability to articulate, the essence of the profession and the discipline of library and information studies (LIS).
  • To provide students with an understanding of the professional ethics, values and standards, and how these shape policies in the library and information profession.
  • 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.
  • To introduce students to the literature of library and information studies, and the diversity of scholarly and research activity in the field.
  • To acquaint students with major issues and trends in the LIS community.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • After critical readings in the foundations of the field, students will demonstrate an understanding of the personal contributions, historical development, and diversity of the profession and discipline through small group discussions, activities, a multimedia presentation and a written assignment.
  • After critical examination of library and information policies and competency statements, students will interpret and critique professional ethics, values and standards through participation in exercises and small group discussions.
  • After a library observation and critical readings in the field, students will demonstrate an understanding the physical and virtual spaces, the collections, services, programs, promotion, special events and basic governance structure of a library of their choice.
  • 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 small group discussions, a literature review and a virtual seminar.
  • After readings and guest lectures, students will identify trends in LIS scholarship and research through activities and small group discussions.

Program Learning Outcomes:

  • PLO #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.
  • PLO #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.
  • PLO #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.


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


Written and oral (audio/video) introductions to topics, readings, small group discussions, group project, presentations, and guest speakers.

Course Relationships:

No pre- or co- requisites required.

Required Texts:

Listed below. Lankes’s book is available as an ebook via University of Alberta Libraries. All three can be obtained in print and ebook formats via the usual online and brick-and-mortar channels, or you may find a copy for loan in a nearby library. Please note the more recent second editions of the Hirsh and Lerner books are strongly preferred and recommended. Please let me know as soon as possible if you have difficulties in obtaining any of these textbooks.

  • Hirsh, S. (Ed.) (2018). Information services today: An introduction (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-5381-0300-5 (paperback) or 978-1-5381-0301-2 (ebook)
  • Lankes, R. D. (2016). The new librarianship field guide. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-52908-2. [Available as an ebook via U of A Libraries]
  • Lerner, F. (2009). The story of libraries: From the invention of writing to the computer age (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Continuum. ISBN 978-0-826-42990-2.

Assignments and Weighting:




Assignment 1 Library Observation Report


30 points

Assignment 2a Virtual Seminar (group)


40 points

Assignment 2b Seminar Annotations (individual)


10 points

Assignment 2c Seminar Leadership & Participation (individual)


10 points

Assignment 3 This I Believe Statement


25 points

Discussions - Initial Posts (7)

each 3%
total 21%

6 points each
42 points total

Discussions - Summary (1)


10 points

Participation (including Share and Discuss activities)


33 points



200 points


Late Assignment Policy:

Late assignments for Assignments 1, 2a, 2b, and 3 and the Discussion Summary will not earn full credit; ten percent (10%) will be deducted for every day (24 hours, including weekends) an assignment is late to a maximum of three days. Assignments submitted more than three days (72 hours) after the due date will not be accepted. Non-Summary contributions to discussions in eClass must be made no later than Thursdays at 9pm (MST/MDT), and will not be accepted late after that time unless otherwise stated or arranged with the instructor. In most cases unexpected downtime for cloud services, including Google Apps at the University of Alberta, is not an accepted excuse for a late assignment submission. Exceptions to this policy will be rare and given at the instructor’s discretion; if you require an extension due to constraints, emergencies, and crises that will result in you submitting an assignment late or incomplete, please email the instructor as soon as possible and in advance to make those arrangements.

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. Grades are calculated in accordance with the SLIS Grading Procedure.

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 stands 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 Behavior (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 offense 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 or chronic health condition affecting mobility, vision, hearing, learning, or mental or physical health are advised to discuss their needs with Student Accessibility Services.

Recording of Lectures:

Audio or video recording, digital or otherwise, of lectures, labs, seminars or any other teaching environment by students is allowed only with the prior written consent of the instructor or as a part of an approved accommodation plan. Student or instructor content, digital or otherwise, created and/or used within the context of the course is to be used solely for personal study, and is not to be used or distributed for any other purpose without prior written consent from the content author(s).

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

The University of Alberta and SLIS acknowledge that we are located on Treaty 6 territory, and respect the history, languages, and cultures of the First Nations, Métis, Inuit and all First Peoples of Canada, whose presence continues to enrich our institution and school.