School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 503 Outline

LIS 503: Reference and Information Services
Course Outline

Fall 2018


Instructor: Dr. Joanne Rodger

The Faculty of Education is committed to providing an environment of equality and 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.

Academic Dates to Remember

  • Classes Start: September 4
  • Add/Drop Date: September 17
  • Withdraw (50% fee refund): October 4
  • Withdrawal (with W grade): November 30
  • Classes End: December 7

Calendar Description:

An introduction to reference and information services and resources. Includes history and varieties of reference services, user populations, instruction, ethics, access issues, the reference interview, search strategies, evaluation of services, and the organization, selection, evaluation, and use of major information resources.


  • To develop a basic understanding of the rationale for various types of reference and information services and resources in libraries.
  • To introduce students to the basic theories of information behaviour. 
  • To help students develop the ability to interview clients in order to analyze users’ information needs. 
  • To introduce students to the variety of information sources available that can be used to meet users’ information needs. 
  • To introduce students to the basic techniques of online searching. 

The measurable student learning outcomes for this class are:

  • Drawing on information behaviour theory, student will provide consultation, mediation and guidance to a range of individuals and communities in locating and using information.
  • Through in class discussion and exercises as well as assignments, students will evaluate and synthesize both online and print resources to provide relevant information in response to diverse user needs, communities and preferences.
  • After class discussions, students will develop an awareness of the ethical issues surrounding access to information.
  • Following an examination of search strategies, students will conduct comprehensive information searches using a wide variety of systems and techniques.  
  • After readings, discussions, and activities, students will be able to identify and use a variety of effective tools for readers’ advisory and create read alike lists for library users.


Evaluating information sources, conducting the reference interview, information searching, virtual reference, services to special populations, readers’ advisory, information literacy, managing and evaluating reference services.


May include lectures, readings, online discussions, presentations, guest speakers 

Course Relationships:

No pre- or co- requisites required.

Assignments & Evaluation:

The course grade will be based on the following assignments:

  • Assignment 1: Review of a Reference Source (30 points)
  • Assignment 2: Searching & LibGuides Assignment (50 points)
  • Assignment 3: Discussion Activities (7 x 10 points each = 70 points)
  • Participation: 50 points
    • Total: 200 points


Details of the assignments, including evaluation criteria, will be posted on eClass.

All assignments should be submitted to eClass by the date and time indicated on the course schedule. Late assignments will be subject to a penalty of 10% per day (including weekends) to a maximum of 3 days. If an extension is required, please email the instructor in advance to make those arrangements

Course Delivery

This section of LIS 503 is offered as an online course. We will be using the University of Alberta’s online course management system (eClass powered by Moodle) to engage in the course materials and with one another through activities and discussions. To participate in and complete the course, students will need:

  • Extensive and consistent access to a computer
  • Internet access (preferably high speed)
  • A web browser (preferably Firefox or Chrome as it works better with the Moodle online environment)
  • A word processing program (e.g., Word)

A private course Moodle site run through eClass will serve as the primary mode of delivery for this course. It is accessible only to registered students. To access the course site, login with your University of Alberta Campus Computing ID (CCID) and Password at

The website will be accessible to students on the first day of the course.

This site will contain all course materials including the syllabus, course modules, resource links, and assignment descriptions. eClass also provides asynchronous communication tools including discussion boards, messaging, and an electronic assignment dropbox. You may communicate informally with other students in any way that you wish (e.g., through eClass, by personal email, in person, or by phone) but most official course communications (e.g., small group discussions) will take place through eClass. You are of course welcome to email the instructor for any individual questions or concerns.

Textbooks & Readings

Required Text

There is one required text.  This is available as an eBook through the University of Alberta libraries or through other online retailers.

Dove, J. G., & Tyckoson, D. A. (2015). Reimagining Reference in the 21st Century. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press.

Unlimited concurrent access available from the UofA Libraries:

Other required readings will be available through the eClass site and the University of Alberta libraries.

Recommended Text

There are two recommended texts for this course.  They are both available through the University of Alberta libraries as eBooks.

Bopp, R. E., and Smith, L.C. (2011). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. 4th ed. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. (or the 5th edition by Smith & Wong, which is new and not available as an eBook).

Unlimited concurrent access available from the UofA Libraries:
Cassell, K
. A, and Hiremath, U. (2013)Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. 3rd ed. New York: Neal-Schuman. 

Unlimited concurrent access available from the UofA Libraries:

It is strongly recommended that you purchase the 6th Edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA). This text provides important information on the conventions of writing academic papers, including proper citation formats. The APA writing and citation style is the most commonly used style in educational publishing and is an invaluable guide for those doing graduate-level writing. This book is also available at the U of Alberta bookstore and through various online booksellers. If you buy it, make sure you purchase the 6th edition as some of the writing conventions have changed.

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.


A general rule of thumb is that for every hour of a graduate-level class, you should expect to do three hours of work outside of class time. So, for a three-credit class, that would equal nine hours of work (in addition to class time). In other words, you can expect to work about 12 hours per week on a graduate-level course. This is an average. Some weeks it could be a bit less, and some weeks it could be a bit more (for example, when you have an assignment due).

If you haven’t taken an online course before, it is important to know that you will need to check eClass regularly (that pretty much means that you should check in at least once per day). If you can give yourself 30 – 60 minutes each day to post your contribution and/or respond to other’s posts, I think you will find it more manageable than waiting and trying to respond to a number of posts in one “marathon” sitting. Responses need not be long but they should add to the conversation and move it forward.

(For more on the Discussion portion of the class please see the separate document entitled

“Assignments” that will be available on the course site.) Responding regularly and often has the added benefit of creating a real conversation between participants.

Our weekly topics will begin on Tuesday of each week. I would like the discussions to be wrapped up by Thursday morning so that you have some time to take a break, and to prepare for the next week. Make sure you post early and often. Do not be too late with your postings as it will be hard to for others to respond in depth to your ideas if your posts come in at the end of everyone else’s discussion. Don’t be shy – get in there early with your ideas and get the discussion going!


Important Policy Notes

School of Library and Information Studies Grading Statement:

Grades reflect professional judgments of student achievement made by instructors. These judgments 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.


Raw scores (marks on assignments) are totaled at the end of the course and converted to University of Alberta's letter grading scale.  Final grades will be reported using letter grades determined through a combination of the relative and the absolute grading system. For 500-level courses the median letter grade is normally about a B+.

Equality, Equity and Respect

The Faculty of Education is committed to providing an environment of equality and 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 staff and students use inclusive language to create 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 backgrounds. In order to create a thoughtful and respectful community, you are encouraged to use gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language and to become more sensitive to the impact of devaluing language.

Plagiarism and Cheating

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. GFC 23.4(2).

You should also review the graduate student guidelines for academic integrity. The document Truth in Education: Academic Integrity Guidelines, is posted at

Specialized Support and Students with Disabilities

Students who require accommodations in this course due to a disability affecting mobility, vision, hearing, learning, mental or physical health are advised to discuss their needs with Specialized Support and Disability Services, 2-800 Students’ Union Building, 492-3381 (phone) or 492-7269 (TTY).

Course Outline Content

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