Section 5 - Monday/Wednesday 3-4:15pm - University Library

Instructor: Jim Kinnie
(401) 874-9240

University Library Room 124
Office hour: Mondays 1 pm or by appointment
Fax: (401) 874-5403 

Why Information Literacy? | Goals and Objectives | Requirements | Grading
Class Schedule | Lecture Notes & Supplemental Sites | More About LIB120

Course material available on WebCT:

Information Literacy is the ability to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Information Literacy is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It forms the basis for lifetime learning." -American Library Association. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report. (Chicago: American Library Association, 1989)

Why Information Literacy? top.gif (1023 bytes)
During your time in college you will be required to navigate a vast sea of information again and again — in order to research course-related topics, prepare for speeches and debates, and support your written opinions. Most likely, you will also need to be able to track down information for more personal pursuits, such as buying a car or a computer, planning a vacation, or looking for a job.
Many of us find the information gathering process to be very stressful. Part of the stress we feel is no doubt a result of the sheer amount of information available — different kinds of information, in different formats, in different places. Where do we start to look? How do we know if we're missing something? How can we tell if the information we have found is any good? Sometimes we might even think to ourselves things like, “Do I really need to know that?” or “I don’t even want to know!” Other times we have the feeling that all the information we’re confronted with is just “too much.”
What can we do about it?
We can become information literate. Introduction to Information literacy is an invitation to study the world of information, to gain an understanding of how information is organized, to know how to gather information, to analyze and evaluate its worth and to use it effectively in your research.

Course Goals and Objectives
top.gif (1023 bytes)

Information is a commodity readily available in overwhelming abundance. However. information is only useful if the researcher has the knowledge and skills necessary to manipulate it. While exploring the information world students will learn to use effective methods and techniques of information gathering, evaluation and presentation. The knowledge gained in this course will prepare students to conduct university level research and beyond that, develop skills necessary for life-long learning.

Student Objectives

top.gif (1023 bytes)

Required Materials:

There is no textbook for this course

top.gif (1023 bytes)

Grades for the course will be A-F. Grades should be considered as a way for an instructor to communicate how well students have learned what the course is designed to teach. I will grade Homework and Class Exercises on a check / check plus / check minus basis. This translates into 1, 2, 3 or 0 points for each assignment (1=not great,, 2=good, 3=excellent, 0 = not done at all). Exams and projects will be graded traditionally as a percentage of 100 points.

Your grade will be based on the following:

Criterion Percent of final grade
Minute writing/Reading responses/In-class exercises (class participation)




Homework assignments






Semester Project - "The Paper Trail"


Final exam




The following number of points out of a total of 100 will determine the corresponding letter grade:

A   = 93-100 
A-  = 90-92 
B+ = 87-89 
B   = 83-86 
B-  = 80-82 
C+ = 77-79
C   = 73-76 
C- = 70-72 
D+ = 67-69 
D   = 60-66 
F   = Below 60

Minute writing/Reading response/In-class exercises - 10% of the grade

Minute writing exercises are short. I will ask the class a question, and in response each student will write a few sentences, or at most a paragraph on an index card that is provided. These exercises are designed to help students review and retain material from the last class, to provide practice in applying ideas, to promote understanding of concepts, and to encourage active reading of assigned texts.

Reading responses - Students will submit reading responses for selected readings posted on the discussion board in WebCT. Your written responses will be composed of thoughts and evaluations of the readings based on class discussions and experiences with the assignments, exercises and readings for the course.

In-class exercises
Exercises will involve group learning and discussions with the class. In-class exercises cannot be made up.

I will refer those that need help in composition to the URI Writing Center, 874-4690 or

You will probably not do well in this course unless you are in class to share and actively contribute to the learning. As much as I am the facilitator of your learning in this course, it is your responsibility to learn the materials and share your learning with your classmates. In-class exercises cannot be made up. If you must miss a class due to illness or emergency you should contact me immediately. Although I do not set a minimum number of missed classes, I have found that this simple equation works: Missed classes = lower grade.

Homework Assignments 25%
The goal of the homework and exercises is to facilitate your learning through engaging with the material and to provide an opportunity to learn and practice the skills we are covering in class. Most of the homework assignments will be considered first drafts of the elements that make up the semester project, the Paper Trial. There will be opportunities to revise the drafts. Assignments and exercises are expected on the date due. Turning homework assignments in more than a week late will not be graded. It is very important that you submit the assignments on time so that you will not fall behind in the class.

Presentations - 20%
There will be at least two group presentations. Teams of 2 to 3 students will explore 1) subject databases and 2) issues of the information age and report back to the class. Some class time will be available for preparation and summaries will be posted in WebCT. 

Quizzes - 5%
The quiz dates are listed in the Class Schedule below. They will cover anything listed on this syllabus up to the date of the quiz including the readings, class discussions, lecture notes, and Web sites used in class. There will be two quizzes to be taken in WebCT.

Final Exam - 10%
The final exam will be a common exam for all sections of LIB120 to be taken on WebCT. It will be graded on a pass/fail basis. The date and format for the final will be announced during the semester.
NOTE: Absence during an exam must be excused by a doctor's note verifying illness, an official university letter verifying a participation in a sports event, or a note from a university counselor verifying personal problems. Without an approved excuse, you will not be allowed to take a make-up exam.

The Paper Trail - Semester  Project - 20%
The Paper Trail is due December 10. You will be working on it for most of the semester. It is worth 20% of your grade, so be sure to stay on top of this project. Essentially the Paper Trail is an annotated portfolio or a map of the research process used for a research paper or project. Your Paper Trail project should allow me to follow your research path for a pre-selected research question. It is a map to trace all of your research - the processes that worked and those that didn't work. Homework assignments throughout the semester will directly apply to the Paper Trail project; a personal journal describing your research experiences and an outline of the paper you would write will also be included. Journal entries and homework will be collected and returned for revision as the semester progresses. It is recommended that you use a topic from a course you are currently taking if you can. The topic idea must be submitted to me for approval before you can begin the project. Paper Trail Projects that are turned in late will lose 10 points off the total Semester Project grade for each day late.

Any student needing special accommodations should contact the URI Office of Student Life, Disability Services at (401) 874-2098, TTD (via RI Relay) 1-800-745-5555, or on the Web at

Please read the University Manual sections on Plagiarism and Cheating,  8.27.10+

Please Read the URI Student Manual sections on the use of Computing Facilities, 4.13-4.20

The Academic Enhancement Center
The work in this course is complex and intensive. To do the best you can, it is a good idea to visit at the Academic Enhancement Center (AEC) in Roosevelt Hall. The AEC offers a comfortable environment in which to study alone or together, with or without a tutor. AEC tutors are your peers they have taken your courses, and can answer questions, clarify concepts, check your understanding, and help you to study. You can make an appointment or walk in anytime during office hours -- Monday through Thursday from 9 am. to 9 pm, Friday from 9 am to 1 pm, and Sunday from 4 pm. to 8 pm. For a complete schedule -- including when tutors are available specifically for this class -- go to, call (401) 874-2367, or stop by the fourth floor in Roosevelt Hall.

Class Schedule
Subject to change
Readings and assignments available on WebCT
  top.gif (1023 bytes)

Week 1 - September 5
Overview and Introductions 
Information explosion/Information overload 
What exactly is information?
Week 2 - September 10
Organization of Information - LATCH
Classification systems 
The Research Process
Using Encyclopedias as Background Sources


Week 3 - September 17
How to develop a topic - Concept Mapping and other techniques 
Formulating an effective research question - narrow it down
\Finding Monographic Information 
The HELIN Catalog


Week 4 - September 24
Bibliographic records
MLA Citation format 
LC Subject Headings 
Revisiting Catalogs
Week 5 - October 1

Interpretation and Evaluation Criteria - How to evaluate the information you find 
Annotated Bibliography (What is it? Why use one? How to write one!) 


Week 6 -  October 8

Finding periodical information
Information Cycle - Publication Cycle - The Invisible College


Week 7- October 15
Scholarly, Popular and Trade - What's the difference?
Search Statements
Indexes and indexers
Electronic Databases - Academic Search Premier


Week 8 - October 22
Electronic Databases - Continued
Team Database Project presentation lab


Week 9 - October 29
Team Database Project presentations


Week 10 - November 5
The Internet - A brief history
Search Engines and Databases 
Week 11 - November 12

Using the Internet as a Critical Thinker
Web site evaluation


Week 12 - November 19
Plagiarism, intellectual property, copyright
Information Packaging/Citation Formats


Week 13 - November 26
Experts and Associations.
Issues of the Info Age Presentations
Week 14 - December 3
Statistics: Where to find them, when to believe them 
Preserving information  
Week 15 - December 10
Paper Trail Due

Paper Trail Grading Criteria

Final Exam TBA

top.gif (1023 bytes)

Lecture Notes

Top of page