INF 6120: Access to Information

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): None

Rationale for inclusion in curriculum

This general reference course introduces students to the content, structure and organization of print and nonprint reference resources. The course addresses the philosophy and procedures of equitable and inclusive information provision to diverse populations. The course provides practical experience in reference interviewing and searching techniques in finding answers to real world questions along with promoting information literacy instruction.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Analyze and explain the characteristics of various types of reference sources to connect information seekers with accurate, relevant and appropriate information.
  2. Use reference tools and searching techniques to answer a wide range of questions reflecting the multidisciplinary and multicultural interests and characteristics of library users.
  3. Understand the stages of information seeking, negotiation and provision in physical and virtual environments.
  4. Identify major concepts concerning the functions of reference services: goals, direct and indirect services, instruction and information seeking assistance
  5. Understand the relationship between the reference function of the library and other library operations.
  6. Adapt reference services, resources and spaces to meet the needs and expectations of diverse patrons.
  7. Evaluate reference services and collections to address the needs of a diverse and changing society.
  8. Develop an awareness of the ethical issues surrounding equitable and inclusive access to information.
  9. Demonstrate the professional attitudes and the interpersonal and interdisciplinary skills needed to communicate, collaborate and interact with colleagues and information users.


Organization and administration of reference department; developing and maintaining reference collections, query negotiation, introduction to and evaluation of print and nonprint reference sources, development of search strategies

Course methodology

During the term, class sessions may include some or all of the following: scholarly and professional readings, class discussions, guest speakers, problem sets, site visits. Includes participation in online discussions; critical viewing and response to streaming video presentations; quizzes; completion of problem sets; several library site visits; extensive observation of reference transactions; virtual reference interactions; and face-to-face interviews with professional reference staff.

Basis for evaluation of student performance

Class participation and attendance, reference observation and electronic searching assignments.


To Be Determined

Updated: 4/23