LIS 5203: Assessing Information Needs

Spring 2013, Tuesdays, 6:00 to 8:00 PM, Online

Contact Information

Dr. Michelle Kazmer, Associate Professor, School of Library & Information Studies, Florida State University

Office: 242-A LSB
Office Hours: By appointment

The best way to reach me is by using the Blackboard discussion board (this is only because FSU's email has been very, very sketchy over the past few semesters). But you absolutely are very welcome to email me: I make every effort to respond to emails within 24 hours; if I don't respond within 48 hours, please email me again, as your message (or my response!) might have gotten lost [or junked accidentally]. Remember to include the course number, 5203, in your subject line. Also: I'm really serious about this: if you don't get a response in 24 hours, please email me again! I want to answer your questions or concerns.

You can also find me all over (Skype, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) @michellekazmer. If you need to talk about something specific at a specific time, we can schedule that. Just ask!

Course Materials

There is one required text for this course:

There will be additional readings each week, all available online through databases to which FSU subscribes or 'somewhere on the internet,' or on reserve in Blackboard. These additional readings were selected to introduce you to some of the seminal historical works in this area over the past decades, as well as more recent articles that illustrate current approaches to "information needs, seeking, and behavior research." Reading these articles will help you see how the topics we discuss each week are implemented by scholars and researchers, past and present.

Course Description

This course provides students with an overview that emphasizes the user's perspective in the analysis of information needs and preferences, including the fundamentals necessary for the study and understanding of human information-seeking behaviors of a variety of users and user groups.

Course Objectives

After the completion of this course, students will be able to:

Course Policies

Attendance policy for this course is consistent with Florida State University Policy as stated in the Graduate Bulletin. Your regular attendance at class meetings of this course is expected, and you are required to participate in class discussions during regular class meeting times. All students are expected to abide by this class attendance policy.

(I didn't write this part: Excused absences include documented illness, deaths in the family and other documented crises, call to active military duty or jury duty, religious holy days, and official University activities. These absences will be accommodated in a way that does not arbitrarily penalize students who have a valid excuse. Consideration will also be given to students whose dependent children experience serious illness.

University-wide policy requires all students to attend the first class meeting of all classes for which they are registered. Students who do not attend the first class meeting of a course for which they are registered will be dropped from the course by the academic department that offers the course. In order to enforce this policy, instructors are required to take attendance at the first class meeting and report absences to the appropriate person in their department or school/college. For further information, consult the FSU General Bulletin at:

If a situation arises where you will not be able to meet a deadline, let me know well in advance. Work submitted late with a reasonable excuse will be accepted if discussed with the instructor before the due date. Do not expect an incomplete for the course without extreme and unforeseen mitigating circumstances.

You are required to check your official FSU email account(s) and the course discussion board and blog regularly (I suggest daily). All emails to the instructor must include a subject line that begins with the number of the course (5203). If you do not receive a response to your email within 24 hours, you are responsible for re-sending it and/or using other media to reach out to the instructor (including but not limited to the private message function within Collaborate). Emails that include neither your full name somewhere in the email nor the course number in the subject line will not receive a response.

Grading / Evaluation

Letter grades will be allocated using the following scale: 100-93 = A, 92-90 = A-, 89-87 = B+, 86-83 = B, 82-80 = B-, 79-77 = C+, 76-73 = C, 72-70 = C-, 69-67 = D+, 66-63 = D, 62-60 = D-, 59-0 = F.

The Assignments page in Blackboard has more details on the grading and evaluation of each assignment.

Assignments / Responsibilities

The following list is provided for quick reference:

The Assignments page in Blackboard has more details about each assignment.

Course Content / Outline

The following list is provided for quick reference:

The Course Calendar and/or Weekly Folders in Blackboard have more details about each week.

Academic Honor Policy

The Florida State University Academic Honor Policy outlines the University's expectations for the integrity of students' academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations of those expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty members throughout the process. Students are responsible for reading the Academic Honor Policy and for living up to their pledge to ". . . be honest and truthful and . . . [to] strive for personal and institutional integrity at Florida State University." (Florida State University Academic Honor Policy, found at

Americans with Disabilities Act

Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should:

  1. register with and provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center; and
  2. bring a letter to the instructor indicating the need for accommodation and what type. This should be done during the first week of class.

This syllabus and other class materials are available in alternative format upon request.

For more information about services available to FSU students with disabilities, contact the

Student Disability Resource Center
874 Traditions Way
108 Student Services Building
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
(850) 644-9566 (voice)
(850) 644-8504 (TDD)

Syllabus Change Policy

Except for changes that substantially affect implementation of the evaluation (grading) statement, this syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advance notice.