INLS 200-003: Retrieving and Analyzing Information (Fall 2008)

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Course Management

Schedule and assigned readings

Discussion forum

Course blog

Grading and policies


  1. Write a Wikipedia article on an Information Science-related topic
  2. Information & Library Science-related current events blog posts

Meeting place and time

117 Manning Hall

Tuesday & Thursday, 2:00 – 3:15


Jeffrey Pomerantz
Assistant Professor
School of Information and Library Science
Office: 306 Manning Hall
Office hours: Tuesday & Thursday, 1-2 pm
Phone: 962-8064

Course Description

In this course, students will learn how to clarify their own information needs, access information sources, critically evaluate those information sources, and use the information accessed to fulfill those information needs. The information sources utilized in this course will be predominantly electronic: web search engines and commercial databases. Students will learn to formulate effective search strategies, will master basic search logic and commands, and will gain hands-on experience in database searching. Students will learn to access information in both bibliographic and non-bibliographic resources, including citation, full-text, numeric, image, and multimedia databases. The assignments will enable students to focus on information resources on a topic of their choice.

On a personal note, I believe that this course is important because in the Information Age, knowledge of how to find, evaluate, and use information is as important to our survival as knowledge of agriculture was in the Neolithic: you might be able to survive, but your diet (of food or of information) would be a pretty poor one. One of the biggest problems faced by people in the Information Age is the sheer volume of information available: there is more information available on any topic than you are likely to want, but is all of it worthwhile? Poor quality information or misinformation may be worse than useless, it may be positively harmful. The ability to filter and evaluate information is therefore one of the most important skills that a person can have in the Information Age. Moreover, I believe that these skills are absolutely essential for all citizens of a democracy to possess. A quote is frequently attributed to Thomas Jefferson: "An informed citizenry is the bulwark of a democracy" (though the good people at the Jefferson Library at Monticello do not believe that this quote is genuine). The American Library Association's position is that: "the power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them." Without quality information, how can you learn enough about the issues that are important to you to decide how to vote on them and who you want representing you in government? I believe that this course is important because knowledge of how to find, evaluate, and use information is as important as any skill that a person can possess in the Information Age, and is a citizen's civic duty to boot.

This course is a prerequisite for enrollment in the SILS major and is required for the Information Systems minor. It provides a foundation for all additional courses in SILS.

Course Objectives

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

  • Use search tools effectively,
  • Use different genres and media of information sources effectively,
  • Evaluate information sources for quality,
  • Evaluate information sources for relevance to their own information needs,
  • Use information to fulfill their own information needs.