SYLLABUS:  Introduction to Information Services
LIS 5603: 04, 05, 06
Fall 2005
Mondays 6:00-8:00 p.m.


Professor: Dr. Michelle Kazmer
Office: 850-644-5187
Mobile: 850-559-2421
AIM: MichelleKazmer
Office hours: Tuesdays 10-11 a.m. and by appointment. In addition, I am available via email or instant messenger most days, most times.


Required Text: Bopp, Richard E. & Smith, Linda C. (Eds.) (2001). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. Third Edition. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN (cloth): 1-56308-621-2; (paperback) 1-56308-624-7

Many standard reference sources with which you should become acquainted are also only available in print. Plan ahead! You will need to make regular use of a reference department to get the most out of this course.

Other Materials: Required readings are found online, as noted in the course calendar. Your ability to learn to use online databases to locate the assigned readings is an integral part of the course.


LIS 5603 Introduction to Information Services (3 credit hours) Introduction to reference/information work using both print and online sources; examines the relationship of reference work to other information services in libraries and other information-providing agencies.


You will:

  • Critically consider the concept of reference services in an electronic era.
  • Utilize various types of reference/information tools, both print and electronic, in terms of their query-answering characteristics with emphasis on certain representative titles.
  • Increase ability to critically examine information tools and resources.
  • Develop skills to plan and conduct information searches and to synthesize information for others, with an emphasis on understanding and conducting reference interviews in both oral and written modes.
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct effective searches (including such things as using Boolean logic, proximity operators, limiting) in various electronic environments (OPAC, proprietary databases available through WebLUIS, WWW, CDs and DVDs).
  • Be introduced to various types of information services offered by libraries and other information-providing agencies in responding to the needs of a diverse and varied clientele.
  • Think about ethics in reference work.
  • Learn various methods of evaluating performance of reference/information agencies.


The main policy to remember, if you forget all else, is: DON'T PANIC! This is my only hard-and-fast rule, but if you break it by accident, whatever you do: DON'T PANIC!

The remaining (less important) course policies are:

  • Keep me informed, early and often! Let me know what is going on, if you have questions, if you need help, if you will be absent, or handing in an assignment late, or anything else you think will help me to make your learning experience more successful and more pleasant! Handling any kind of issues before things get out of hand is always our best bet!
  • Most people find this course to be interesting and somewhat time-consuming, but also a lot of fun. Everything about this course is structured and assessed as an information service exercise. When you are asking or answering questions, you are working as an information professional (librarian or otherwise) when you do so. So: ASK, ASK, ASK! Use the DISCUSS boards, use the QA boards, ASK me, ASK your colleagues! But also: ANSWER, ANSWER, ANSWER! -- it is an intrinsic expectation of this course that you'll both ask and answer questions on the boards with great frequency and intense interest, keeping in mind that providing excellent service is always a top priority.
  • You need to look at the discussion areas frequently! (see below for more information about how we use the discussion areas) The "discussion week" for 5603 begins on the Sunday before our weekly chat and ends on the Sunday after, for an "8-day week." You'll notice that the weeks overlap. Posts made after Sunday night at midnight at the end of a week are not guaranteed to be counted for that week.
  • Chats for this course are optional for you (see the Participation Assignment for more information) and meet on Mondays from 6-8 p.m. Eastern Time.
  • Assignments are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (EDT through October 29, 2005, EST beginning October 30, 2005) on the date indicated. Assignments this semester will be due on Tuesdays.
  • In general, late assignments will not receive full credit. If you have extenuating circumstances, please contact me just as soon as you can. The more advance notice we have to work with, the more likely we are to arrive at a mutually satisfactory alternative plan.
  • Submitted assignments must include a heading on the first page that includes the name and number of the course, the name of the instructor, YOUR NAME, the name and number of the assignment, and the date you are handing it in.
  • Papers must be demonstrably spell-checked, grammar-checked, and proofread; if they are not, they will be returned to you for corrections before a grade is assigned. Please let me know if you need help with this aspect of the assignments. If you have a complete draft at least three days before the assignment is due, I am happy to proofread it for you.
  • You should use headings/subheading/section titles/etc. to make the organization of your paper clear to the reader.
  • Each student must hand in every assignment in order to earn a passing grade in the course.

The discussion boards and their uses

It is VITAL that you read the boards frequently and carefully! The three main learning tools in this course are readings, assignments, and participation (chats and discussion boards). If you lose one of those three legs, the stool falls over -- so remember that all three require your attention each week. Also, when marking assignments, I assume that you have carefully examined all of the weekly DISCUSS boards; all of the weekly chat logs; and the QA board for that assignment.

We use the following discussion board types in this class:

  • Faculty Office (FO): If you have questions for me (the professor) about the general operation of the course, you should post them here and I will respond.
  • SHARE: This is one board that we use all semester. As you find interesting books, articles, web sites, conferences, or any other bits of information that are relevant to info org, please post them here so that we can all benefit!
  • DISCUSS: You can earn your participation point here. There will be a DISCUSS board for each week. This is where each week's topical discussion occurs, and where you should ask and answer questions about the content of the readings and the weekly topics.
  • QUESTIONS ABOUT (QA): Each assignment has a QA board. You can post questions about the assignment here, and I will answer them (but you are strongly encouraged to answer questions for each other here as well!).


Final point tallies and their associated letter grades:

  • 98-100 A+ (this will not show up on your transcript, but I will write you a letter explaining that you earned an A+ if you'd like -- and if you earn it :-)
  • 93-97 A
  • 89-92 A-
  • 86-88 B+
  • 81-85 B
  • 77-80 B-
  • 74-76 C+
  • 68-73 C
  • 65-67 C-
  • 62-64 D+
  • 57-61 D
  • 55-57 D-
  • 0-54 F


Please see the "Assignments" page for more detail about each assignment. The 100 points available in this course will be earned as follows:

  • 1 Reference Department Visit: 10 points
  • 2 Reference Interview Practice: 10 points
  • 3 Databases: 20 points
  • 4 Question Set: 20 points
  • 5 Research Guide: 25 points
  • 6 Participation: 15 points


  • August 29 - September 4: Introduction to information services
  • September 4 - September 11: Reference services
  • September 11 - September 18: Reference interviews and ethics
  • September 18 - September 25: Information structures and databases
  • September 25 - October 2: Searching
  • October 2 - October 9: Indexes, abstracts, and fulltext databases
  • October 9 - October 16: Source selection and evaluation
  • October 16 - October 23: Sources: directories, almanacs, yearbooks, handbooks
  • October 23 - October 30: Sources: biographical, dictionaries, encyclopedias
  • October 30 - November 6: Sources: geographical, bibliographic, government
  • November 6 - November 13: Specific populations
  • November 13 - November 20: Additional services; Evaluation
  • November 20 - November 27: Current trends I
  • November 27 - December 4: Current trends II
  • December 4 - December 9: Recapitulation and synthesis


Students are expected to uphold the Academic Honor Code published in The Florida State University Bulletin and the Student Handbook. The Academic Honor System of The Florida State University is based on the premise that each student has the responsibility (1) to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity in the student's own work, (2) to refuse to tolerate violations of academic integrity in the university community, and (3) to foster a high sense of integrity and social responsibility on the part of the university community.

Please see the following web site for a complete explanation of the Academic Honor Code.


Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should: (1) register with and provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center; (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.

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

Student Disability Resource Center
Dean of Students Department
97 Woodward Avenue, South
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
(850) 644-9566 (voice)
(850) 644-8504 (TDD)

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


This syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advanced notice.