School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 501: Foundations of Library and Information Studies

Course Outline
Fall 2017

Instructor: Dr. Adam Worrall
(780) 492-0179
3-15 Rutherford South
Office hours
: 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.

Measurable Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

  • 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.


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 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. Note that both Hirsh’s and Lankes’s books below are available as ebooks via University of Alberta Libraries, as well as from the usual online and brick-and-mortar channels. We still recommend buying a copy of at least Lankes’s book, however. The more recent second edition of Lerner’s book is preferred over his earlier first edition (from 1998).

  • Hirsh, S. (Ed.) (2015). Information services today: An introduction. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-442-23958-6. [Available as an ebook via U of A Libraries]
  • 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

Participation (including Share and Discuss activities)


43 points



200 points

Late Assignments: For Assignments 1, 2a, 2b, 2c, and 3, late assignments 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. 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. 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 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.