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Laura Murray is an Associate Professor in the English Department of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and creator of the website


Samuel Trosow is an Associate Professor at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. He is jointly appointed in the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Information and Media Studies.

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LIS 9001 (Fall 2009) PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 September 2009

LIS 9001: Perspectives on Library & Information Science

Fall 2009 – Section 02 (Thursday 1:30-4:20)


Dr. Samuel E. Trosow, Associate Professor
Faculty of Information and Media Studies / Faculty of Law     
259 North Campus Bldg
(519) 661-2111 x 88498
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Class meets: Thursday 1:30-4:20 p.m. Room 15A Middlesex College
Office Hours: _________________ or by appointment..


Course Description

Overview of the profession and discipline of library and information science. Provision of a range of perspectives to facilitate the making of informed education and career plans and choices. Major current issues in library and information science. Development of an appreciation of the social, political, economic, cultural, historical, and intellectual contexts of information.

Course Objectives

Through readings assignments, guest speakers, and class discussion the course will:

1.    provide students with an overview of the profession and the discipline of library and information science.
2.    provide a range of perspectives which will allow students to make informed choices about their educational program and career planning.
3.    introduce students to the major current issues in library and information science.
4.    introduce students to the importance of the social, political, economic, cultural, historical, and intellectual contexts of information.

Relationship to the Goals and Objectives of the MLIS Program

Students who complete this course will be able to:

1.    demonstrate an awareness of professional values and standards (Goal 2, Obj. 1a)
2.    respond to change in a spirit of intellectual inquiry (Goal 2, Obj. 1b)
3.    analyze major problems of the discipline and profession in a spirit of creativity and critical inquiry (Goal 2, Obj. 1e)
4.    understand the nature of particular user groups, and the collections, services, and facilities required to meet these needs (Goal 2, Obj. 1h).


Course Outline

Introduction to Course
Week 1: September 10th


Module 1: History and Characteristics of Information

Weeks 1 & 2: September 10th & 17th
Short Essay due in class September 17th   

Module 2:  Information Economics and the Information Society  
Weeks 3 & 4: September 24th & October 1st
Module 2 Reports due in class October 1st  

Module 3: Information Institutions: Libraries and the Public Sphere
Weeks 5 & 6: October 8th & 15th
Module 3 Reports due in class October 15th

No Class Wednesday October 22nd (will be made up during reading week)

Module 4:Information Professions: The Practice and Jurisdiction of Librarianship
Weeks 7 & 8: October 29th and November 5th
Module 4 Reports due in class November 5th


Module 5: Information Ethics,  Intellectual Freedom and Censorship
Weeks 10 & 11: November 12th & 19th
Module 5 Reports due in class November 19th


Module 6: Information Policies:  Copyright and Privacy
Weeks 12 & 13: November 26th & December 3rd

Course Wrap-Up: The Future of Information Services

Week 14: December 10th
December 10th: Critical Annotated Bibliography due in class


Assignments and Grading:


  • Short Essay: Short essay (10%) Due in class – September 17th  For the first assignment, you will be asked to write a short essay (app 3 pages) which will cover the first module. You will have one week to complete the assignment which will be distributed at the first class meeting with further details.

  • 2 Module Reports (20% and 25%)

    Each student shall submit two module reports, the first worth 20% and the second 25% of the course grade. The topic reports shall be based on the assigned readings plus at least three additional readings. Topic reports shall be submitted in class, in the second of the two weeks that the topic is taken up in class as specified in the course outline. Students should be prepared to make a short presentation of the report and answer questions.

    In order to spread out the workload during the term, each student will be assigned to report on either Module 2 or 3, and on either Module 4 or 5. Selections will be made early in the term so you will be able to plan your work schedule.  If you are not preparing a module report, you are still responsible for completing at least the core reading and coming to class prepared to participate in the discussions. You are not asked to write a Report on Module 6 since by that point in the term you will be fully engaged with your Critical Annotated Bibliography.

    Module 2 Reports due in class:  October 1st
    Module 3 Reports due in class:  October 15th
    Module 4 Reports due in class:  November 5th
    Module 5 Reports due in class:  November 19th

  • Critical Annotated Bibliography 30% (Due in class December 10th)

    This assignment requires that you select a topic of interest to you and search the scholarly literature of library and information science, communications research, law, political science, economics, sociology (or any other relevant discipline) to find recent articles, books, or other resources (including non-print materials) that cover your subject. You may choose any problem relevant to the course that is of most interest to you. In selecting a topic for study, it is important to have just the right focus. Avoid being too general or too specific.

    Your literature review will begin with a short introduction, a problem statement, which introduces the topic you will be addressing and which summarizes the major issues, theories, and areas of concern within the topic. For an assignment of this sort a good problem statement would typically be in the 1 ½ to 2 page range. It should set the stage for critical annotated bibliography of the articles, books, chapters in collections of essays, or non-print materials dealing with the problem which follows.
    The bibliographic data is given prior to the annotation for each item cited. You must be sure that complete bibliographic information (author, title, date of publication, place of publication, publisher, edition, and series data if applicable) is given for each item cited. A critical annotation is not merely a description of the work, but also an evaluation of how useful it is, a statement describing the intended audience and whether it presents an evaluation/critique of the material. Simply describing the work cited is insufficient.

    Your review should contain approximately 20 sources and should begin with a coherent statement of the problem you are exploring.

    You will be graded on: the coherence of your problem statement, the appropriateness of items selected with respect to the topic, organization of material, clarity of expression (including spelling and grammar), correct bibliographic information, and use of proper bibliographic format. Your paper should conform to the APA Publication Manual, or some other format of your choice.

    Please do not wait until the end of the term to begin working on this assignment. You should clear your topic with the instructor asap. You are also encouraged to submit a draft problem statement as well as a “sample” annotation for critique at your earliest convenience.

  • Class Participation: 15%

    Class will be conducted as a forum for discussion.  Students are expected to have read the assigned material, as well as other relevant materials, and come to class prepared to discuss/critique/synthesize these readings.


Course Readings:

There are several levels to the readings for this course.

First, there is a common group of core required readings for each Module. All students are expected to complete all of the core readings by the first class meeting for each module.

Second, for each module, a number of recommended readings will be suggested. Students are expected to make a reasonable effort to read as many of these as possible. Your ability to participate in class will be enhanced by completing a good cross-section of these readings on a regular basis. Further, if you are writing up a module report, you should read all of these materials.

Third, students are expected to engage in independent inquiry and research throughout the term, especially in weeks where they are presenting module reports. Additional supplemental readings will be suggested by the instructor and from class participants over the course of the term. Each student will be preparing a detailed annotated bibliography for the final assignment and this will involve more in depth reading on a particular topic.


Here is the Tentative Reading list (subject to additions) for each module:

Advance reading Assignment for first class (September 10th)


  • Norman Stevens, The History of Information.  Advances in Librarianship volume 14, edited by Wesley Simonton, (N.Y.: Academic Press, 1986)


  • Read ahead into Module 1 as much as possible


Module 1:  History and Characteristics of Information


  • Braman, Sandra. “Defining Information: An Approach for Policy-makers,” Telecommunications Policy 13(3): 233-242 (1989). (available online at   
  • Buckland, Michael. Information as Thing. Journal of the American Society of Information Science 42:5 (June 1991): 351-360. Also available online at
  • Stevens, Norman. The History of Information. Advances in Librarianship Vol. 14, edited by Wesley Simonton, (N.Y.: Academic Press, 1986).



Module 2:  Information Economics and the Information Society  


  • Benkler, Yochai  “The Political Economy of Commons,” Upgrade, 4(3):6-9 (June 2003).
  • Berry, John N. III. The Public Good: What is it? in Libraries, Coalitions & the Public Good. E.J. Josey, ed (Neal Schuman, 1987) pp  7-15. (GRC Reserve)
  • Bollier, David. “The Rediscovery of the Commons,” Upgrade, 4(3): 10-12 (June 2003).
  • Birdsall, William. A Political Economy of Librarianship? Herme: revue critiques 6 (available online at
  • Duff, A.S. “Daniel Bell’s Theory of the Information Society.” Journal of Information Science 24(6): 373-93 (1998) (Available through UWO library catalogue)
  • Harris, Michael and Stan Hannah. Into the Future: The Foundations of Library and Information Science. Norwood, Ablex, 1993. Chapter 1 “The Information Age," pp 1-32. (GRC Reserve)
  • Maina, Charles. Valuing Information in an Information Age: The Price Model and the Emerging Information Divide Among Individuals, Societies, and Nations. 2003 CAIS Proceedings. Bridging the Digital Divide: Equalizing Access to Information and Communication Technologies. Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. May 30 - June 1, 2003. Proceedings Editors: Wilhelm C. Peekhaus and Louise F. Spiteri.


Module 3: Information Institutions: Libraries and the Public Sphere


  • Auld, Hampton (ed.) “Patrons, Customers, Users, Clients: Who are they and what difference does it make what we call them?” Public Libraries 43(2): 81-87 (March/April 2004) (UWO Catalog)
  • Blake, Fay M. The Library’s Commitment to the Public Sector. in Libraries, Coalitions & the Public Good. E.J. Josey, ed (Neal Schuman, 1987) pp 16-21 (GRC Reserve)
  • Buschman, John. Dismantling the Public Sphere: Situating and Sustaining Librarianship in the Age of the New Public Philosophy. Westport: Libraries Unlimited, 2003. Chapter 1: “Introduction.” and Chapter 3, “The Public Sphere Rounding out the Context of Librarianship.” (GRC Reserve)
  • Harris, Michael and Stan Hannah. Into the Future: The Foundations of Library and Information Science. Norwood, Ablex, 1993. Chapter 2 "Librarians Confront the Post-Industrial Era," pp 33-58. (GRC Reserve)
  • Leckie, Gloria. Three perspectives on libraries as public spaces. Feliciter, 50(6): 233-236. (2004) (UWO Catalog)



  • Blanke, Henry T. 1996. "Librarianship and Public Culture in the Age of Information Capitalism" Journal of Information Ethics 5 (Fall): 54-69. (GRC Reserve)
  • Buschman, John. 2005. Libraries and the decline of public purpose. Public Library Quarterly, 24(1), 1-12. {Available through UWO Library Catalog}
  • Coffman, Steve (1998). “What if you ran your library like a bookstore?” American Libraries, 29 (3), 40-46 (Available through library catalogue).
  • Webster, Frank. Theories of the Information Society. London: Routledge, 2002. Chapter 7- "Information Management and Manipulation: Jurgen Habermas and the Concept of the Public Sphere " (GRC Reserve)
  • others tba

Module 4: Information Professions: The Practice and Jurisdiction of Librarianship


  • Abbott, Andrew. "Professionalism and the Future of Librarianship." Library Trends 46.3(1998): 430-444. (Available through library catalogue).
  • Harris, Roma. Librarianship: The Erosion of a Woman's Profession. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex, 1993. Chapter 1:  "In Pursuit of Status." pp. 3-21. (GRC Reserve)
  • Jensen, Robert (2006). The myth of the neutral professional. Electronic Magazine of Multicultural  Education, 8(2), 1-9.
  • Nappo, Caroline. Resisting Abridgment: Librarianship as Media Reform. Journal of Communication Inquiry (July 2009) 
  • Samek, Toni."Internet AND Intention: An Infrastructure for Progressive Librarianship. International Journal of Information Ethics 2(11)




  • Cronin, Blaise. “Shibboleth and substance in North American library and Information Science Education.” Libri 45 (1995) 1: 45-63. (GRC Reserve)
  • Rosenzweig, Mark. “The Basis of a Humanist Librarianship in the Ideal of Human Autonomy.” Progressive Librarian 24:40 (Winter 2004)
  • Others tba



Module 5: Information Ethics, Intellectual Freedom and Censorship



  • American Library Association. Core Values of Librarianship.
  • Berninghausen, David. Social Responsibility vs. the Library Bill of Rights. Library Journal November 15, 1972: 365-81. (GRC Reserve)
  • Blanke, Henry T. “Librarianship and Political Values: Neutrality or Commitment?” Library Journal, 114(12): 39-43 (July 1989) (Available through UWO library catalogue).
  • Canadian Library Association. Statement on Intellectual Freedom.  (available via )
  • Canadian Library Association Code of Ethics. (available via
  • IFLA. Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom.
  • Trosow, Samuel.  Internet Filtering in the Public Library: 'Censorship' or 'Customer Service' OLA Access Magazine, Summer 2008) (read expanded online version at )


  • Alcock, Taralee. “Free Speech for Librarians? A Review of Socially Responsible Librarianship, 1967-1999.
  • Buschman, J. 2006. On not revising the ALA code of ethics: An alternative proposal. Library Philosophy and Practice, 8(2). Available at
  • Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. Letter to London Public Library Board (June 17, 2008).
  • Desang, E. T. 2006. Intellectual freedom and libraries: Complexity and change in the twenty-first century digital environment. The Library Quarterly, 76(2), 169-192 {UWO Access via Catalogue}
  • others tba

Module 6: Information Policies


The Future of Information Services



  • others tba



Guidelines for written work

Written work will be graded on the basis of the quality of analysis and argument (how well it defines an issue or problem, how clearly it articulates a position or thesis regarding that issue or problem, and how well it provides argument, reasons, or evidence in support of its position or thesis). Mere summary of views found in the literature is inadequate topic report. Grades will be reduced for papers with mistakes of grammar and spelling, improper bibliographical form, and which are too short or too long.  

 Late Assignments

Grades shall be reduced for late papers at the rate of 5% of the assignment grade per day for the first two days (or any portion thereof), and 2% per day thereafter, including weekends. Late papers should be left in the FIMS drop box next to the main office. Papers may be submitted electronically on weekends. Papers more than one week late will not be accepted.


Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. The following statement has been approved by the Senate of The University of Western Ontario for inclusion in every course outline:

Students must write their essays and assignments in their own words. Whenever students take an idea or a passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt both by using quotation marks where appropriate and by proper referencing such as footnotes or citations. Plagiarism is a major academic offence. (see Scholastic Offence Policy in the Graduate Calendar of the Faculty of Graduate Studies).


See also the statement on plagiarism in the MLIS Student Handbook.

MLIS Grade Guidelines


The MLIS Student Handbook contains information on the criteria used to grade assignments.



UGC Report

I am an Associate Professor at the University of Western Ontario jointly appointed to the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS).


Before coming to Western, I was a law librarian at the Boalt Hall Law Library at the University of California at Berkeley and before that I was in private law practice in California. My doctoral work in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA focused on information policy issues.


I am currently a Network Investigator and Theme Leader with the GRAND NCE and also serve on the Librarians Committee of the  Canadian Association of University Teachers.

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