The Catholic University of America
School of Library and Information Science
LSC 555 – Information Systems in Library and Information Centers
Fall 2009

Updated November 6, 2009

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: No course prerequisites but see Basic Skills Needed, below.


This is class will be a blend of face-to-face (f2f) and online class meetings. There are 5 face-to-face (required) meetings, 5:10-7:40 pm on 8/31, 9/14, 10/19, 11/16 and 12/7. The class meets in Lab 1 at the Eagle Ridge Middle School in Loudoun County. Eagle Ridge Middle School is located at 42901 Waxpool Rd, Ashburn, VA 20148 (map this).

Regular online participation is expected. We will use CUA's BlackBoard learning management system extensively for announcements, discussion, assignments, etc. Students are expected to monitor BlackBoard frequently, because updates, administrative information and reminders are frequently posted there.

Instructor Contact Information
Bill Kules, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Marist Hall Room 248
(301) 755-7982
Office hours are posted on my web page.

This course introduces students to the evolving role of information systems in the storage and retrieval of information. Students explore how information technology in libraries, archives and information centers, and on the World Wide Web facilitates interaction with information.

Course Goals
This course is designed to:

Goals for Student Learning
At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain the role and functions of computer-based information systems in libraries or information centers or on the web.
  2. Describe fundamental computer and communications technology principles and trends applicable to libraries, archives or other information centers.
  3. Describe important human and technological issues in the electronic environment.
  4. Employ systems analysis and human-computer interaction frameworks to analyze the design and operation of information systems in libraries or information centers or on the web.
  5. Demonstrate basic skills in selected current technologies (such as database management systems (DBMS), HTML, wikis, or blogs) to organize and disseminate information.
  6. Articulate the importance of, and strategies for, professional development and continuous learning about information technology in LIS.
Instructional Methods
This course uses a variety of instructional methods and activities: These course activities will be conducted both face-to-face (in-class) and online (using BlackBoard, wiki, and other tools). Students are expected to be online frequently. If you do not have daily  access to the Internet, please contact the instructor before the first class meeting.

Course Structure

There are four broad modules of the course. The Frameworks module focuses on two ways of thinking about information systems. We will use these as touchstones throughout the course. The Information Systems module investigates selected information systems that are relevant to the LIS field and LIS professionals. The Building Blocks module covers important components of any information system. In the final module, we wrap up the course, with project presentations, course review, etc.:
Framework - Two important ways that we think about and analyze information systems.
Information Systems - Selected information systems to be investigated in this course.
Building Blocks - Essential technology elements of all information systems

Course Schedule

(approximate dates)
1 Aug 31 (f2f) - Sep 6
Framework Introductions. Structure of the course. Course themes. Information systems. HTML Basics. Introduce HW 1: Online Catalogs and Libraries Post introduction; complete introductory questionnaire
Sep 7 Labor Day
2 Sep 8 - 13 Framework Human-Computer Interaction, Users & usability.  
3 Sep 14 (f2f) - 20 Information Systems Digital Libraries & Archives. Introduce HW2: Digital Archives.  HW 1 (9/20)
4 Sep 21 - 27 Information Systems Information Retrieval Systems.   
5 Sep 28 - Oct 4 Information Systems Library Information Systems. Systems Librarianship. Introduce HW3  HW 2 (10/4)
Project proposal (10/4)
6 Oct 5 - 11 Framework Systems development lifecycle. Systems analysis. User-centered design.

Project plan due (10/11)

Oct 12 Columbus Day
7 Oct 13-18
Framework Systems analysis: flow charts and data flow diagrams  
8 Oct 19 (f2f) - 25 Building Blocks Computer systems: Hardware and storage. Project update 1
9 Oct 26 - Nov 1 Building Blocks Computer systems: Software  
10 Nov 2 - 8 Building Blocks Telecommunications & networking HW 3 (10/18)
Project update 2
11 Nov 9 - 15 Building Blocks Representation & management of information: metadata  
12 Nov 16 (f2f) - 22 Information Systems Representation & management of information: Files, databases, SQL Project update 3
Nov 23 - 29 Thanksgiving Break

Catch up

13 Nov 30 - Dec 6 Wrap-up

The Social Web 2.0: Wikis, blogs and more. Social Issues in IT. Technology trends.

Draft oral and written presentations
14 Dec 7 (f2f) -13 Wrap-up Team project presentations. Course evaluations Final written & oral presentations due in class
Dec 14  

Final portfolio

Notes: This schedule provides an overview of topics and major assignments. Detailed information, including weekly activities, exercises, and specific due dates, will be posted to BlackBoard. This schedule and syllabus is subject to change as needed.

Required Course Text
No required text.

Optional Course Texts
Castro, E. (2007) HTML, XHTML & CSS. 6th Ed. Berkeley, CA: Peach Pitt Press.
Several students have highly recommended this book. A straightforward, building block (the author's words) approach to HTML. Very visual. This text is also the text for LSC 610. 

S&R - Stair, R., Reynolds, G. (2008) Fundamentals of Information Systems. Fourth ed. Boston: Thomson Course Technology. (ISBN 1-4239-0113-4) This book is oriented toward business students, but provides useful material about information systems in general.

Kochtanek T.R., Matthews J.R. (2002) Library Information Systems. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. (ISBN 1591580188)
Although this text is somewhat outdated, it covers some material specific to libraries.

Required Technologies

The following technologies are taught as an essential part of this course or required for course delivery:


Note: Hyperlinks are provided for documents available on the open web. Other readings are available from ALADIN except where noted.

Week 1


Information and Systems
  • Information system. (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica Online. (Read pages 1-16)

Technology readings/resources


Week 2

Human-computer Interaction. Users and Usability



Week 3

Digital Libraries and Archives


Week 4

Information Retrieval Systems


Week 5

Library Information Systems
Systems Librarianship
  • Chapter 1 in: T. C. Wilson (1998). The Systems Librarian. Chicago: American Library Association. (Available on BlackBoard in Resources)
  • M. Lundy (2003). "Changing Roles of the Systems Librarian at the College of William ad Mary: The Explosion of Technology and Position of the Systems Librarian." Library Hi Tech: 21(3).
  • M. Jordan (2003). "The Self-Education of Systems Librarians." Library Hi Tech: 21(3).


Week 6

Systems development lifecycle. Systems Analysis. User-Centered Design
  • Chapters 1, 4 and 7 in: L. Osborne, M. Nakamura (2000). Systems Analysis for Librarians and Information Professionals, 2nd ed. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. (Available on BlackBoard in Resources > Systems Analysis)
  • C. Abras, D. Maloney-Krichmar, J. Preece (2004). User-Centered Design. Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
  • J. Nielsen (1994). How to Conduct a Heuristic Evaluation
  • Data flow diagram
  • T. Drewry (2005). Data Flow Diagrams


Week 7

Computer Systems: Hardware & storage


Week 8

Computer Systems: Software


Week 9

Telecommunications and Networking


Week 10

Representation & management of information: Files, databases, SQL.
Technology readings/resources


Week 11

Representation & management of information: metadata
  • National Information Standards Organization. (2004) Understanding Metadata. - Focus on pages 1-3 and 10-12. Read the "Metadata in action" sidebars and skim the other parts.
  • D. Chudov (2007). "File Formats and the Librarian's Supersuit" Chudnov, Daniel. Computers in Libraries: 27(3). - This short opinion piece talks about file formats and metadata from a librarian's perspective.
  • S. Taylor (2003). "A quick guide to …Z39.50". Interlending & Document Supply. 31 (1). 25-30. - Focus on how the Z39.50 standard enables 2 different systems to communicate. You can skip the appendices.
Topic readings Technology readings/resources
  •, "XML Tutorial" - Read the first 3 pages of this tutorial: Introduction to XML, How can XML be used?, and XML Tree.
  • J. Lewin (2000). "An introduction to RSS news feeds" - Read the section "What exactly are these RSS files?" Skip "Creating RSS files". Then read enough of the section "The four main sections of an RSS file" to understand the 4 main types of information that is encoded in an RSS file. Skip the rest. Focus on the main tags in an RSS file and how they are structured. Don't worry about the different versions of the RSS standard. 


Week 12

Web 2.0
  • T. O’Reilly (2005) What is Web 2.0. - Read through sections 1 & 2 and skim the rest. Focus on how the web is changing - what technologies and behaviors are associated with Web 2.0. Don't get bogged down in trying to pinpoint a definition for Web 2.0.
  • P. McFedries (2006) “The Web, Take Two.”IEEE Spectrum, p. 68. - This 1-page reading will introduce you to some of the terms associated with the Web 2.0 concept(s).
  • P. Miller (2006) “Coming Together around Library 2.0.” D-Lib Magazine 12(4). - This article provides some examples of how libraries are adopting Web 2.0 concepts and technologies.
  • B. Evans (2006). "Your Space or MySpace" Library Journal; 10/15/2006 Net Connection - Describes how the Brooklyn College Library created a MySpace presence. It's a bit dated now (2 years later), but read it as an example of a library taking a bit of a risk and exploring a Web 2.0 technology.
  • Optional: E. Castro-Leon (2004) “The Web Within the Web.”IEEE Spectrum, p. 42-46. - Discusses the importance integrating disparate datases and describes some of the standards and web services (like XML, SOAP, UDDI, WSDL) that Web 2.0 technologies are built on.


Week 13

Social Issues
  • H. Varian (2005). "Universal Access to Information" Communications of the ACM: 48(10). - This 2-page article argues that most useful information will be available digially and then discusses several challenges that must be addressed to ensure that it is universally available.
  • U.S Copyright Office (2006). Fair Use - Basic information on fair use.
  • Copyright Questions - An interactive web page about copyright targeted toward K-12 students.
  • Clifford, S. Many See Privacy on Web as Big Issue, Survey Says. New York Times. March 15, 2009. - Describes the sometimes contradictory attitudes and behaviors that consumers have about online privacy.
  • J. Balas (2007). "By Digitizing, Are We Trading Future Accessibility for Current Availability?" Computers in Libraries: 27(3). - This 3 page article takes a "curmudgeonly" view of digitization issues. It discusses Google's project to digitize major library collections (which spawned lawsuits and a recent settlement agreement) as well as other issues related to digitization..
Watch at least one of these videos: These videos are relevant to all of us. If you plan to work in a K-12 or academic library, it is already relevant. If you plan to work in a special library or archive, you may not see the impact as immediately, but it is only a matter of time before these digital natives are your clients and patrons.

Week 14

Technology Trends
  • G. Anthes (2007). Spam, viruses, botnets: Can the Internet be saved? Computerworld - Discusses a number of technical challenges facing the Internet, some related social aspects of those challenges, and describes several research projects that are targetted to address the challenges.
  • Read two (2) of  the articles in the Technology Trends section of our Social issues and technology trends wiki page (TBD). In the online activities, you will reflect on these articles and critically examine how they relate to our profession and your career.
  • Skim the other Technology Trends articles listed on the wiki page  - You should read the first 2-3 paragraphs of each article with the objective of being aware of the variety of technological changes that are occuring. You do not need to read them in depth.

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Basic Skills Needed

Although there are no course prerequisites for this class, you will need to have a basic set of skills to succeed. For example, you must be able to:

  • Navigate the web and conduct basic web searches. Save a web page to local computer. Access a web page by entering its URL directly into the web browser.
  • Use basic features of Windows XP, such as the Start menu and other program menus, cut-and-paste, moving files between folders and external media like a USB drive.
  • Log in to the CUA network (via Windows XP) and the Home@CUA web-based system. 
  • Send and receive email using the CUA email system.
  • Use ALADIN to find books and articles
  • Access this course on BlackBoard, view this syllabus and related information available, and post a personal introduction on the discussion forum.
  • Post to a web-based discussion forum.
  • Create a Microsoft Word or PowerPoint document and apply basic formatting such as fonts, font sizes and color.
You also need regular access to the Internet (i.e., at least every other day). 

If you do not feel confident of your mastery of these skills, don’t panic. Instead, contact me before the course starts. I can help you find resources to fill in any gaps early in the semester.

SLIS provides short workshops on technology topics throughout the semester. See the SLIS Technology Resources page for more information.


Grades for this course will be based upon the following elements:

Component Percent
Class Participation 15%
HW1 15
HW2 15
HW3 15
Team Project 25
Final Portfolio 15

Final grades will be assigned as follows:

Letter Numeric range
A 94-100
A- 90-93
B+ 86-89
B 82-85
B- 78-81
C 70-77
F Below 70

University grades: The University grading system is available at for undergraduates and for graduate students. Reports of grades in courses are available at the end of each term on .

Class Participation - In class and online

Each class is critical to your learning experience. Your energy in contributing to class discussions, small-group exercises, and online activities and discussions will be important. Therefore, coming to class prepared (e.g., reading all course readings before class, working on project research, etc.) and actively participating will be necessary to receiving full credit for class participation. The readings are intended to stimulate questions in addition to providing information. It is a good strategy to make notes of questions and comments as you read - these can be useful contributions to the discussion.

Exercises and Other Activities

Exercises and other activities are provided to help you learn and practice course material, especially specific techniques or tools. We will often start an exercise in class and have you finish afterwards. Although they are not formally graded, they contribute to your participation grade - you are expected to complete them and post your results, comments, etc. as instructed.


Each homework assignment will incorporate the topics being covered and selected technology skills. The assignments will have a collaborative in-class component, and an individual at-home component. Assignments span multiple weeks. You must post your drafts before each class so that we can review them. Drafts are not graded but I will deduct points if they are not posted on time. In class, you will work in small groups to discuss the assignment and critique each other's drafts; as a group, you will present back to the class to share the highlights of your discussion. In class, you will also spend some time on your own producing an HTML document based on your group's in-class discussion and using the HTML techniques learned in class.

Before posting or submitting your work, you must test your work using a PC and Internet Explorer 7. If you do not have access to a PC, you can use one in the lab.

All assignments must be posted or submitted by 11:59 pm on the day they are due, unless otherwise noted. If the assignment is submitted late, your grade will be reduced by 10%. Each day it is late thereafter you will lose an additional 5% point (e.g., submitting one day late would reduce your grade by 15%).

Team Project & Presentation

For the team project, you will partner with at least one other person in the class to conduct an in-depth case study of a real organization's information system. Working with a larger group allows you to undertake a more ambitious and rewarding project. You will gain experience working on a technology project in a group - which is a real-world requirement for most jobs. You group will present its work during the last two class sessions.

NOTE: Each project update must be submitted by 11:59 pm on the due date. If it is not submitted on time that day, your grade will be reduced by 10%. For each subsequent day it is late your grade will be reduced by 5%.

Final Portfolio

For your final portfolio, you will write 2 short essays (similar to comprehensive exam questions) and prepare a final version of your web portfolio. Throughout the course, you will post your assignments and other work products to a personal or team web site. By the end of the course, you will have a portfolio that illustrates the knowledge and skills you have developed during the course. 

Submitting Assignments

All assignments are to be submitted electronically through the BlackBoard Learning Management System or posted online as instructed.

Late work. The instructor will not accept late work except by prior arrangement. If accepted, it may not be graded until the end of the term.

Makeup work. If a student has a legitimate reason, such as a medical or family emergency, the instructor may allow a student to do makeup work. The amount and nature of the work is up to the instructor's discretion. It will be graded at term's end. Documentation of the emergency (e.g. a doctor's letter) may be required.

Place your name and email address at the top of all pages. Any work submitted with numerous grammar, spelling or format problems will be penalized.

Accommodations for students with disabilities: Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss specific needs. Please contact Disability Support Services (at 202 319-5211, room 207 Pryzbyla Center) to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. To read about the services and policies, please visit the website: The CUA guide for services and accommodations for students with disabilities can be found at Some basic guidelines and links to other information may be found at:

University Grades

The University grading system is available at for undergraduates and for graduate students. Reports of grades in courses are available at the end of each term on .

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Academic Honesty

Academic honesty is expected of all CUA students. Faculty are required to initiate the imposition of sanctions when they find violations of academic honesty, such as plagiarism, improper use of a student's own work, cheating, and fabrication. The following sanctions are presented in the University procedures related to Student Academic Dishonesty (from "The presumed sanction for undergraduate students for academic dishonesty will be failure for the course. There may be circumstances, however, where, perhaps because of an undergraduate student's past record, a more serious sanction, such as suspension or expulsion, would be appropriate. In the context of graduate studies, the expectations for academic honesty are greater, and therefore the presumed sanction for dishonesty is likely to be more severe, e.g., expulsion. ...In the more unusual case, mitigating circumstances may exist that would warrant a lesser sanction than the presumed sanction." Please review the complete texts of the University policy and procedures regarding Student Academic Dishonesty, including requirements for appeals, at and

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Always cite your sources.

Participation and Conduct:

Attendance is required, in keeping with university policy. Any non-emergency absences must be approved by the instructor before the first class of the semester. Your class participation grade depends on being in class and actively participating in class and online. Arrive on time. Late arrival will affect your class participation grades.

If class is cancelled due to weather, illness or other emergency, check the online announcements the next day. We will generally hold class online when this happens.

Behave respectfully. Students are expected to behave respectfully at all times: while in class, in public discussion forums, and when using email. Participation grades will reflect a student’s maturity level and professionalism; cooperation and collaboration with the class; and whether the meaningfully contributes to course discussions.

No phone calls during class. Turn off or silence cell phones and pagers. Students leaving the room for calls may not be allowed to return to that class session.

No grade discussions in class. Instructor will not discuss grades in class. First consider why the instructor deducted points. If you still disagree, explain your disagreement in an e-mail to the instructor.

Accommodations for students with disabilities

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss specific needs. Please contact Disability Support Services (at 202 319-5211, room 207 Pryzbyla Center) to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. To read about the services and policies, please visit the website:

H1N1 Influenza Preparedness Plan

Students are encouraged to visit the University's H1N1 & Seasonal Flu Information web page ( for information on prevention and flu shots (all students are eligible and the University encourages everyone to get vaccinated). If you become sick, please complete the online reporting form at the Seasonal Flu and H1N1 Self-Reporting Center ( This initiates several campus supports, including notification of your instructors. Campus security ( provides daily updates on the status of influenza on campus and the University response to the anticipated H1N1 outbreak.

If students have an excused absence due to illness, the following steps will be taken:

  1. Because much of the coursework is done online and asynchronously, any coursework that can be completed individually (i.e. non-group work) will have the deadline extended.

  2. If a student is unable to complete an online group activity on time, the activity will be revised to provide an appropriate individual activity, albeit without the group work aspect.

  3. If a student misses a face-to-face session, s/he will view the class slides, listen to the recorded audio, and respond to a set of written questions provided by the instructor.

  4. If a student misses a substantial part of the team project, they will be provided an alternative assignment for the portion(s) of the project missed. Their grade will be pro-rated based on the group work completed on the project and their individual work. 

If class is canceled due to illness (as well as weather or other emergency), students will be notified via the BlackBoard Announcements, with the Announcement emailed to students' CardinalMail addresses. In this case, students should check the online announcements the next day. We will generally hold class online when this happens. Particular Activities that cannot be conducted online will be postponed.

If the instructor is unable to lead class for an extended period due to illness, an alternate instructor (Dr. Youngok Choi) has agreed to take over during the illness.

This course plan is consistent with the SLIS H1N1 Influenza Preparedness Plan, adopted September, 2009 and available at

Syllabus changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus as needed. Nothing in this syllabus may be construed as a contract. All changes will be provided to students via BlackBoard.


This syllabus was originally adapted from material by David Shumaker and Allison Druin.

Revision History

9/28/2009 - Added H1N1 plan.

11/6/2009 - Updated schedule