Library 103 First Session

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| Library 103 Syllabus |

Introduction to Course

The purpose of this class is to help the student learn how to evaluate the various kinds of sources of information that the student typically uses in class assignments and research papers. So after taking this class, the student should be better able to distinguish good sources of information resulting in better grades on class assignments. The emphasis of the class is on evaluation rather than on basic research skills, but the student will probably improve basic skills as well.
The Instructor hopes that the class will also be a basis for life-long learning.

Information Competency

Definition:  Information Competency is the ability to recognize when information is needed, and to access, locate, evaluate, synthesize, and use and communicate information in various formats.

An information competent student should be able to:

  • Recognize when information is necessary

  • Access technology appropriate to his/her information needs

  • Develop effective research strategies

  • Locate, retrieve and use information in a variety of formats

  • Critically evaluate and synthesize information

  • Competently use computers and other information technology

  • Use a variety of information technology tools to facilitate communication

  • Understand the legal and ethical issues relating to information and its use.

This definition was recommended by the COS Campus Curriculum Committee and adopted by the College of Sequoias Academic Senate in 2001.

Types of Libraries

Traditionally, libraries have been the source for finding organized and pre-evaluated data and information. The word "library" comes from the Latin word "liber" that means "book." In antiquity books were so valuable that they were considered plunder along with gold and silver and precious gems. Until the invention of the printing press in about 1456, books were hand-copied which probably caused errors. In this country, the first libraries were available by subscription only. Andrew Carnegie (1893-1919) helped to make libraries available to everyone by funding the building of 1,689 libraries which cost in today's money $800 million dollars.

More and more students are using web pages for homework assignments. It should be noted that not everything is available on the web, especially books under copyright, most journal and newspaper articles and archives. Also it should be noted that web pages are transitory in nature. Libraries are still important sources of print and electronic information.   Libraries provide resources for work and recreation. Libraries preserve cultural heritage. Libraries often provide an oral history collection or a local history collection. Libraries often  collect original manuscripts. Libraries archive information from generation to generation providing for continuity of information, so the wheel doesn't need to be re-invented. Libraries provide the basis for life-long learning and also provide Web access; the Web is an information highway that is still a toll-way. Libraries provide information for an informed electorate.

But not all libraries are the same, so which library should you use?

There are basically five types of libraries:

School Libraries refer to libraries in elementary and secondary schools. The quality varies tremendously from school district to school district.

Public Libraries are open to the general public and provide a wide-range of services to patrons who are pre-school all the way to senior citizens. They are funded by city or county government and sometimes by special funding districts. In this country before 1850, they were funded by subscription, but since 1854 they are generally tax supported.

Academic Libraries refer to community college, college or university libraries. Harvard University is the world's largest academic library with about 15 million items.

Special and Research Libraries refer to libraries in hospitals, law firms and petroleum companies and others which provide services to a very specialized, particular audience.. Examples of specialized research libraries would be the U. S. Presidential Libraries, Folger Shakespeare Library, the Huntington Library, and locally the Clark Center Library in Hanford.

National Libraries have huge collections and a wide-range of services to the country as a whole.. The largest of this type, is the Library of Congress in  the United States with a collection of 138 million items. As the name suggests, the Library of Congress was meant to serve Congress, but it has become a copyright depository and provides cataloging information to libraries large and small all across the country.

Library Catalogs

A Library catalog lists the materials available in a particular library. Now most library catalogs are available for searching on-line. They give basic information about what is available; some books in the cataog may be available in the e-book format.
Library catalogs follow a certain format and give basic information such as the author and title of the book, the place of publication, the publisher and publication date. The number of pages, the physical size and whether the book is illustrated and/or contains maps or portraits is provided in the record.

A very important part of the record for the item is the
subject heading entry. There may be one or several listings in this category. Subject headings tell what words are used to describe the book. These words can be used to search in the catalog for other similar books. Subject headings use what is called a controlled vocabulary. Controlled vocabulary means that only certain words are used to describe a certain concept. For example, at one time the subject heading "indigent people" was used instead of the more obvious and popular term "homeless". "Capital punishment" might be used instead of  "death penalty"

Most online library catalogs have a keyword search option.
Keyword searches find specific words in the title, author, or subject heading fields and sometimes in the content note field. So it is possible to search for the subject matter of the book without knowing the specific subject heading. It is usually best to start searching in a catalog with a subject heading search using the keyword search as a backup.

So the catalog tells what books are available in the library and describes them. It also tells where to find them. The catalog gives the
call number  (shelf number) and status information telling whether the book is currently on the shelf or checked out.
Books are placed on the shelves according to
classification systems. There are two main systems used in the United States. One is the Dewey Decimal System which is usually used in school and public libraries.

The other system is the Library of Congress usually used in academic libraries and, of course, the Library of Congress.
Dewey classification call number might look like this:   294.363 A736
A Library of Congress classification call number for the same book might look like this:   BQ882 .A76 2001


COS Library Catalog    CSUF  Library Catalog    Public Library Catalog     Library of Congress Catalog

Book Publishing Industry

Book publishing encompasses:  preparing, manufacturing ,and distributing books. The publisher is the person or company who prepares, manufactures, and distributes books. The company whether it consists of one person or many hundred employees is called the publishing house. There are three kinds of publishing based on the type of book produced. The three types are: trade books, educational books and reference books. Trade books are intended for general readers and are sold at book stores or through book clubs. Educational books are texts for schools and colleges and are sold directly to the school or through college bookstores. Reference books include encyclopedias, dictionaries and almanacs. Reference books are usually bought by libraries but are also marketed to individuals. The steps in book publishing are acquiring the manuscript, editing the manuscript, designing and printing, and marketing .

Publishing Terms:
Printing - Impression  -
Number of copies produced when printing plates or type are on the press.
Edition -
Number of books printed before a certain percentage of the content is revised.
First Edition -
From the first printing of the first edition.

Baker, John F. "Publishing". World Book Encyclopedia. 2002 ed.


Plagiarism and copyright  are two separate issues. Plagiarism is an academic crime, but a student could  be held legally responsible for copyright infringement.
A copyright violation is the unauthorized use of material that is currently under copyright protection. 

The link: Frequently Asked Questions About Copyright at the U. S. Copyright Office, a Department of the Library Of Congress, gives basic information about copyright.

Book Evaluation Guidelines

        What are the author's credentials? (degrees and experience)
        What information can you find about the author in such publications as Contemporary Authors, Current Biography, 
        or Biography Index,
or the book jacket, or an .edu website, or a Google search?
        Has the author been quoted or referred to by an instructor?
        Have his/her works been cited in reference works or other bibliographies or footnotes?
        Is the author considered to be an expert and how do you know?
        Is the author affiliated with a college or university or a reputable organization?
        Has the author written other published works on this topic or a related topic?
        (Check the Library of Congress website at,
        or do an author search in a periodical index.)

Publication Date:
        What is the original copyright date? What is the latest copyright date?
        Research in some fields of study advance so quickly that books rapidly become out-of-date; is that
        the situation for this particular book?
        Has the book been reprinted?
        Is there a later edition?
        An edition generally reflects major revisions or updates to include the latest knowledge.
        Many printings or editions may indicate that this is a source that is considered a standard in the
        field and is updated regularly and is considered highly valuable.

        Find out the name of the publisher. Publishing standards vary from publisher to publisher. Some commercial
        publishers may publish anything they think will sell. On the other hand, university presses will require
        scholarly standards to protect their reputations. Professional associations and government agencies also
        actively publish.      
        Do a web search on the Publishing House.
        Other sources for publishing information are Writer's Market (R808.02 W956), the Writer's Handbook (R029.6
        W956) and Literary Market Place (R029.6 L776). 

        Check for the following:
Table of Contents

Read or scan the preface or introduction to find out what the author's purpose is.
Who is the intended audience?
                    Is it for professionals and too specialized and technical?
                    Is it too scholarly for the assignment?
                    Is it too general?

        Is there bias?

 Is the material presented fact, opinion or propaganda?
Are the statements supported by facts?
        Are the assumptions reasonable?
        Does the author use emotional words?

        Is this source consistent with your other research?
        Is the material primary or secondary?

Primary Sources:
                           Are those accounts written at the time of the event by persons directly
                           involved, such as diaries or journals, personal letters, or by eye-witness accounts as in
                           newspaper coverage.

Original research results published in a journal or proceedings of a conference
                           Government data or official reports
                    Secondary Sources are interpretations, commentaries, summaries, or analyses of  primary sources.
                            They may provide valuable historical perspective or criticism.
Writing Style:
        Is the writing style of good quality?
        Is the text easy to read or difficult to follow?
        Does the author use clear and precise language?
        Are the author's statements based on adequately supported reason or on egocentricity?

Evaluative Reviews:
Can you find a review in a reputable source such as Book Review Digest or Book Review Index or 
Readers Guide to Periodical Literature or online indexes such as Academic OneFile, Academic Search Premier, or
Literature Resource Center? often excerpts reviews from reputable sources such as Booklist and/or  Library Journal

                                                                             Prepared  from the following sources:

Woodward, Jeannette A. Writing Research Papers: investigating resources in cyberspace. 2nd ed.
              Lincolnwood, Ill.: Contemporary Publishing, 1999.

Ormondroyd, Joan, Michael Engle and Tony Cosgrave. "How to Critically Analyze Information Sources"
               21 June 2000. <> (17 Mar. 2001).
"Office for Intellectual Freedom Workbook for Selection Policy Writing" Office for Intellectual Freedom
               American Library Association. <> (9 Mar.
"Evaluating a Bibliographic Citation." Purdue University Online Writing Lab. 1995-  
               2001. <> (9 Mar. 2001) 


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Last Updated: 10/13/2014 8:17 AM