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LIS 5600/4600 | Information Access & Knowledge Inquiry

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Elizabeth Figa

© Elizabeth Figa 2012

The 5600 course and its content are copyrighted and may not be reprinted, revised, reformatted, or refactored for distribution or publication in any form or venue  without permission of the author or the University of North Texas.

Welcome the the 5600/4600 class!


Excellent reference or information professionals have a great number of skills and talents, including an understanding of user needs, knowledge of information creation and preservation methods, information retrieval and access skills, communication and intermediation skills, information seeking skills, and instruction and management skills. These skills are coupled with knowledge of professional issues and concerns and relevant theoretical topics. The structure of the class will enable each student to develop skills in all of these course components

Official Course Description

5600/4600. Introduction to Information Access and Knowledge Inquiry. 3 hours. Epistemological foundations of information use. Basic principles and techniques of information access and knowledge inqueries. Survey of research in information seeking behavior and user interaction. Introduction to systems of access, search, retrieval and navigation skills, as well as reference collection management and services collection management. Study of evaluation methods for all formats of resources, services and user satisfaction.

Please note: As one of the core courses required of all students in the School of Library and Information Sciences, the 5600/4600 course has several different faculty who teach it, and the core content has been considered and approved by the entire SLIS faculty. Regarding expected time expenditure: In general terms, a student can expect 3 - 4 hours of reading/homework time outside of class for every hour spent in class -- in other words, the general expectation level of SLIS is that you will spend approximately 9 - 12 hours per week completing reading and homework for this course.

Course Objectives

  1. Understand the purpose of evaluation and be able to evaluate information access services.
  2. Achieve an understanding of the elements of collection management of reference resources.
  3. Examine foundations, philosophy, and ethics of reference services.
  4. Acquire knowledge of the effective practices in information and instruction services.
  5. Understand the attributes of information behavior.
  6. Become familiar with reference information sources.
  7. Understand basic principles of information retrieval.
  8. Demonstrate search and retrieval skills.
  9. Understand and evaluate information technologies.
  10. Examine issues concerning users and diversity.
  11. Conduct a reference interview.
  12. Understand management responsibilities.
Please note the following objectives of the School and note the highlighted objectives that the 5600/4600 Information Access and Retrieval course will ideally help the student achieve:

** = Directly addressed
* = Indirectly addressed


The master's program objective is to prepare students to understand the principles, analyze the problems, and design and implement practices related to recordable information, including its creation, communication, identification, selection, acquisition, organization, description, storage, retrieval, preservation, analysis, interpretation, evaluation, synthesis, dissemination, and management.

Specifically, students should:

  1. understand the critical impact of electronic technology and networks on information practices; **
  2. be able to manage change in a technology-driven and knowledge-based environment; *
  3. plan, manage, and implement information systems in the networked environment for the creation, organization and dissemination of information;
  4. develop and implement conceptual and technological systems and structures for the organization of information in any format for effective access; *
  5. understand human information behavior in order to design and implement information systems and services that meet user needs; **
  6. evaluate, synthesize and present information for client use; **
  7. demonstrate communication skills necessary for personal and professional growth and interaction in appropriate professional contexts; **
  8. manifest a commitment to the philosophy, principles and legal and ethical responsibilities of the field; **
  9. recognize the impacts of information policies, practices, and information itself on diverse populations in a technological and global society; *
  10. demonstrate additional knowledge and competencies appropriate to their individual interests, specializations and career goals; *
  11. understand the importance of professional development, continuing education, and participation in professional organizations; **
  12. and relate the methodologies and content of other disciplines to the information field and understand the contribution of the information field to other disciplines. *

Course Access and Blackboard

The 5600/4600 course will use Blackboard. The Blackboard pages are open on the first official day of classes in the semester in which it is offered. Registered students will be uploaded into the student database and can access the course using their UNT EUID AND PASSWORD beginning on the first day. Course modules will be timed and are explained in the full course syllabus.

An important note about course access: At times, the overnight uploads of the student database, which is done by Student Records and the Blackboard Division, takes longer than anticipated or has technical problems. Please do not be alarmed if you do not have access to the course the first or second day of class or if your access is suddenly problematic. Your faculty and teaching assistants anticipate access problems and we will work with the uploaded data to ensure every student has access as soon as possible. If you are registered for the class and experiencing access problems, please consult the resources on the UNT Blackboard Learn homepage (http://learn.unt.edu) and/or contact the Help Desk.

If you need further assistance, please send an email to Elizabeth Figa. Please be patient with us -- your access to the course is our highest priority! You will not get behind in the course the first few days and you can read ahead in your text.

Tracking Participation

Blackboard enables the faculty to track participation in Blackboard-based activities. These information items will be used, in part, in determining the participation grade for the course.


Telephones and pagers should be turned off during live class periods. Thank you.

Faculty Contact Information

Elizabeth Figa, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
College of Information School of Library and Information Sciences
University of North Texas
UNT Discovery Park, Room E295L
3940 N. Elm St.
Denton, TX 76207

Office Phone Direct: (940) 565-2187
Toll-free to SLIS Office: (877) 275-7547
Fax: (940) 565-3101

Email: elizabeth.figa@unt.edu
Website: http://courses.unt.edu/efiga/Figa/

Mailing: 1155 Union Circle #311068 Denton, TX 76203-5017

Elizabeth's Office Hours

Face-to-face office hours are by appointment on my regularly scheduled day arranged by the SLIS Office. Appointments are recommended to ensure a guaranteed time slot. Call (877) 275-7547 for an appointment. Email me if the office cannot find an acceptable time for you.

Clinical Faculty Availability

Clinical Faculty will post their prefered method of contact and availability in the discussion area soon after the beginning of the semester.


The Instructor(s) will read your emails as soon as possible and respond in priority order.

When you submit your homework, you will receive "confirmation" from the system that your assignments have been received. YOU ARE STRONGLY RETAIN COPIES OF ALL SUBMITTED HOMEWORK -- BLACKBOARD IS A GOOD PLATFORM BUT IT IS NOT PERFECT.

Elizabeth's Accessibility and Responsiveness Parameters

I think you will find me highly accessible and responsive to you in both discussion and via email. Please use the discussion boards as much as possible for questions and problem solving so that your faculty, teaching assistants, and peers can all deliver assistance. Please also use discretion with email and consult with me as needed for real problems you cannot otherwise solve on your own or via peer assistance.

I will generally be actively in the class every day Monday - Friday. I will generally take off all-day on Saturday and part of Sunday, so if you have questions about assignments, please catch me during business days. By general practice, I will return to the class late in the day on Sunday. For occasions that I am away at a conference or doing consulting, I will post messages to the class.


  1. The teacher's main task is to guide students through the learning process, not to dispense information.
  2. The goal of teaching is to help students read, speak, write, and think critically and to expect students to do these things.
  3. Learning is a messy process, and the search for truth and knowledge is open-ended.
  4. Good teachers love their subject matter.
  5. Good research and good teaching go hand in hand. Students' engagement with the subject is enhanced by knowing the teacher's own research, and the interaction with students often provides new insights into the research.
  6. The best teachers genuinely respect students and their intellectual capabilities.
  7. Good teachers are rarely satisfied with their teaching. They constantly evaluate and modify what they do.
  8. Good teachers usually had good teachers, and they see themselves as passing on their own teacher's gifts to a new generation of students.
  9. Good teachers treasure the small moments of discovery in the classroom and the more enduring effect they have on students' lives.
  10. Good teachers do not see teaching as separate from other activities; rather, they see their lives as remarkably integrated.

Course Materials

1. Required: Textbook

Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. 4th Edition. By Richard Bopp and Linda Smith, Editors. Libraries Unlimited. 2011.

Ordering Suggestions:

a. Purchase from the University of North Texas Bookstore (contact them for pricing and shipping times if not purchasing in person): http://www.untb.bkstr.com
b. Order direct from the publishers, Libraries Unlimited via toll-free number 800-237-6124, by select sales/ordering OR via the Libraries Unlimited Website: http://www.lu.com/.
c. Order from another online bookstore (contact them for pricing and shipping times):

2. Required: Current APA Citation Manual

The Department of Library and Information Science uses the APA citation style. Students are required to have that citation manual for this course to use as a ready reference tool.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed. (2009). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 

3. Required: Course Readings

Each weekly module will have other required and additional article readings which are listed in the "Readings Due this Week" section of the modules. Use of the UNT electronic resources library is necessary and all readings can be retrieved electronically.

Training will be conducted in class on how to use online/electronic databases. If you need additional help, you may refer to the tutorials and instructions located in the Course Tech Support folder on the Home page of the course..

Technology Requirements

Internet Access and Blackboard

Reliable Internet access is required. Blackboard is the course management software used at UNT. To learn more about supported browsers and configuring your system to run properly with Blackboard Learn, see Help Desk's support page at http://www.unt.edu/helpdesk/bblearn/. Also see the Set Up Your System folder in the Support section of the 5600 course menu.

Hardware and Software

It may be necessary to upgrade your computer system. SLIS outlines Technology Recommendations for all of its courses. In addition to computer hardware, you will need Microsoft Office.

Additional Software Requirements

You will need an audio player to listen to message and lecture files (the VLC player is a good all-purpose choice: http://www.videolan.org).

Technology Competencies

SLIS 5600/4600 requires basic competency in word processing, email, and database management programs. If you lack skills in these areas, expect to devote extra time to learning them. See:

SLIS Policy on Technology Knowledge and Skills

Information in the Graduate Catalog

If you receive a C grade or less in this course,
you are required to retake it
by policy of the School of Library and Information Sciences.

The Graduate Catalog of the University of North Texas has a section specific to the School of Library and Information Sciences. That section of the catalog can be located at: http://www.unt.edu/catalogs/.  As a student, you are responsible for knowing the content of that information so that you understand all expectations. As noted in the graduation requirements in the SLIS section of the Graduate College, "all core courses must be completed with a grade of A or B."  Students should be aware of this expectation and plan accordingly because students who receive a C in this course will be required to retake it.

As quoted from the SLIS Section of the Graduate Catalog:

"Graduation Requirements:


All assignments are due by midnight Wednesday of the assigned week unless otherwise indicated.


Please see the Assignments Icon Page on the course home page for details about the following assignments:

  1. Full participation in all class activities, exercises, discussions, etc. (weekly)
  2. Reading Assignment Quizzes (weekly x 23)
  3. Information Quests (weekly x 11)
  4. Evaluation of Resources (weekly x 11)
  5. Library Observation Assignment
  6. Mid-Semester Response Paper
  7. Final Project: Current Trend Annotated Bibliographic Guide

Grading Criteria

  1. Participation Policy: This course requires weekly engagement and participation in discussion assignments and participation is one grading criteria.
  2. Late Work Policy: Assignments that are submitted via "assignment tools" are due as stated on the course calendar at 12:00 midnight. The assignment tool "dropbox" is set to close at 1 a.m. as a buffer. Unsubmitted assignments will receive 0 points. Students are advised that it is better to submit partial work for some credit rather than submitting nothing. Please plan accordingly.

NOTE: Students are expected to submit all major assignments including the final course assignment. Students who forgo submitting the final assignment will receive zero points on the assignment and a one letter grade deduction.

Incomplete Grades

The Graduate Catalog, located at http://www.unt.edu/catalogs/, describes and explains grading policies. A grade of Incomplete (I) will be given only for a justifiable reason and only if the student is passing the course. The student is responsible for contacting the instructor to request an incomplete and discuss requirements for completing the course if an approval is agreed upon. If an incomplete is not removed within the time frame agreed upon by instructor and student, the instructor may assign a grade of F.

Withdrawal from the Course

The Graduate Catalog, located at http://www.unt.edu/catalogs/, describes and explains withdrawal policies and deadlines. The UNT semester course schedule lists specific deadlines. A grade of Withdraw (W) or Withdraw-Failing (WF) will be given depending on a student's participation and grades to date. Please note that a student who simply stops participating and does not file a UNT withdrawal form will receive an F.

Online Participation

Students are required to use Blackboard Learn to submit and exchange assignments electronically and contribute to online discussions. In online discussions, this means substantive remarks on directed discussion topics beyond merely agreeing or disagreeing without justification or support. Points may be deducted for substandard contributions. Students are also expected to visit the site on a regular basis to read and respond to communications and course material. Blackboard Learn enables faculty to track where and when students visit various areas of the course site, times of first and last logins, and number of discussion postings. This information is used, in part, in determining the participation grade for the course.

In class discussions and group assignments, both onsite and online, instructors and students are expected to demonstrate professional and courteous behavior. This means interacting in a supportive and tactful manner based on mutual respect for each other's ideas and approaches.

Assignment Competencies

SLIS 5600 requires the following kinds of activities, intellectual, and communication competencies:

Effort Expected

This is a three credit-hour course. Students can expect to work 3 - 4 hours per week for each credit hour. This means students will spend 9 - 12 hours a week on readings, assignments, discussions, information quests, source evaluations, quizzes, etc. PLEASE NOTE: This estimate of work level is an actual number based on past students' experiences. SLIS 5600/4600 is one of the two most rigorous courses in the program, and you need to plan your time accordingly. If you are taking this course while working full-time, you need to plan for 9 - 12 hours per week in your schedule, and you will be extremely busy. If you are taking this course while working full time and you are taking an additional course(s), you need to plan for your life to be consumed with work and little other free time. The quality of your educational experience and stress levels will be dependent upon your choices in how you schedule your home/personal life, your employment obligations, and your SLIS courses.

ADA Information

Any student with a disability that will require accommodation under the terms of federal regulations must let the instructor know on the first day of class and present a written accommodations request to the instructor by the second week of class. Copies of the University of North Texas Policy on Disability Accommodations are available through the main office. Questions or concerns about discrimination on the basis of disability or about equal educational opportunities for persons with disabilities should be directed to the Office of Disability Accommodation.


To read INS regulations for F-1 students taking online courses, please go to this website: http://www.international.unt.edu/advising/students/immigration.htm.

To comply with immigration regulations, an F-1 visa holder within the United States may need to engage in an on-campus experiential component for this course. This component (which must be approved in advance by the instructor) can include activities such as taking an on-campus exam, participating in an on-campus lecture or lab activity, or other on-campus experience integral to the completion of this course.  If such an on-campus activity is required, it is the student's responsibility to do the following:

(1) Submit a written request to the instructor for an on-campus experiential component within one week of the start of the course.

(2) Ensure that the on-campus activity takes place and that the instructor documents it in writing with a notice sent to the International Advising Office. The UNT International Advising Office has a form available that you may use for this purpose.

Because the decision may have serious immigration consequences, if an F-1 student is unsure about his or her need to participate in an on-campus experiential component for this course, s/he should contact the UNT International Advising Office (telephone 940-565-2195 or email international@unt.edu) to get clarification before the one-week deadline.

Policy on Academic Misconduct:
Plagiarism and Cheating

Campus Policy

I support and will enforce the University of North Texas policies concerning academic misconduct. I will also enforce the University of North Texas School of Library and Information Sciences Academic Misconduct Policy.  Please consult the University Policy Office's Student Standards of Academic Integrity, which include the following text: 

Categories of Academic Dishonesty:

A. Cheating. The use of unauthorized assistance in an academic exercise, including but not limited to:

  • use of any unauthorized assistance to take exams, tests, quizzes or other assessments;
  • dependence upon the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems or carrying out other assignments;
  • acquisition, without permission, of tests, notes or other academic materials belonging to a faculty or staff member of the University;
  • dual submission of a paper or project, or re-submission of a paper or project to a different class without express permission from the instructor;
  • any other act designed to give a student an unfair advantage on an academic assignment.

B. Plagiarism. Use of another's thoughts or words without proper attribution in any academic exercise, regardless of the student's intent, including but not limited to:

  • the knowing or negligent use by paraphrase or direct quotation of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement or citation.
  • the knowing or negligent unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or by an agency engaged in selling term papers or other academic materials.

C. Forgery. Altering a score, grade or official academic university record or forging the signature of an instructor or other student.

D. Fabrication. Falsifying or inventing any information, data or research as part of an academic exercise.

E. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty. Helping or assisting another in the commission of academic dishonesty.

F. Sabotage. Acting to prevent others from completing their work or willfully disrupting the academic work of others.

Dr. Figa's Penalties for Academic Misconduct

1.  First offense in this course:

2.  Second offense in this course: 

Elizabeth Figa's Philosophy of Hope for Good Work by All

I will give you 100% of my best as your teacher and will incorporate into my work in this class all that I ask of you:  Be who you are. Do your best. Use good judgment. Trust your instincts. Participate fairly. Help others. Be kind and generous in thought and deed. Give credit where credit is due. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. 

The Web Institute
(Module 1 of the Course)


This schedule is subject to change.

About the Web Institute

The SLIS 5600/4600 Web Institute is a distributed learning course with: 1) an intensive two-day onsite component, and 2) the Web-based component of work done online via the Web for the remaining weeks of the semester. For more information, go to the LIS Web site, select Site Map from the sidebar menu, choose Prospective Student, and scroll to Web Institute.

Onsite Activities

The onsite portion will meet from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. You will have one optional evening event during the Institute. The primary purpose of the Institute is to acquaint you with the course and train you in the architecture and inner workings of the tools and techniques of Blackboard Learn as it related to this course specifically. There is also a major social component which allows you to get to know fellow students and your teaching team.

Online Activities

The online portion of the course starts after the onsite component is completed and runs through the end of the semester. Access to course materials and interaction with faculty and students will be through Blackboard Learn. Through the Blackboard Learn SLIS 5600/4600 site, you will have 13 modules containing printed lectures, support materials, assignments, and related discussion with classmates and instructors.

Adavance Preparation and Planning

Before Coming to Campus



*Breaks and the timing of the scheduled activities are adjustable based on student needs.

Web Institute Schedule

8:00 a.m. Check-in
9:00 a.m. Formal Welcome and Introduction of Faculty and Students / Introduction Student Profile Activity / Class Culture / Sign and Submit Plagiarism Agreement / Student Contact Information Form
10:45 a.m. Break
11:00 a.m.

Lecture: Introduction to Information Access and Retrieval

Talk: Overview of the Course / Blackboard Learn Overview: Icon Pages, Email, Chat, Discussion Forums, Assignments, Course Calendar, etc.

12:00 p.m. LUNCH ON YOUR OWN
Bookstore run if necessary
1:30 p.m.

Lecture: Dictionaries + Criteria

2:15 p.m. Break
2:30 p.m.

DEMONSTRATION: Completing a Quest

DEMONSTRATION: Completing an Evaluation

4:00 P.M. LAB: Access course / Online Library Services / Find one article from UNT Library databases / Dictionaries Evaluation and Information Quest Work Time
5:00 P.M. Student time / Library and Lab Time / Reading Time
8:00 a.m.



9:00 a.m. Lecture: Search and Retrieval Strategies
10:00 a.m. Break
10: 15 a.m. TALK: Plagiarism
12:00 noon LUNCH ON YOUR OWN
1:00 p.m. Online Library Orientation, Finding Electronic Resources using UNT Library databases
2:15 p.m. Break
2:30 p.m. DISCUSSION: The Library Observation Assignment
2:45 p.m. TALK: Ethics
3:15 p.m. TALK: Developing Professionalism
3:45 p.m. Final Questions / Wrap-up / Farewells


The course is divided into 13 modules, each of which runs for one week's time. Assignments are due by midnight, Central Time, on Wednesday nights.

Some students print all the course materials in advance of module work and assemble them into a course binder. Materials from this course will be essential when you prepare for your Capstone Experience! Module content and assignments are subject to change at the discretion of the faculty.


Unit 1

Module 1 | Web Institute

Chapters: Recommended to have read before Web Institute



Module 2




Module 3




Module 4




Unit 2

Module 5




Module 6




Module 7



Additional Resources:


Module 8




Module 9




Unit 3

Module 10




Module 11




Module 12




Module 13