INLS 200: Retrieving and Analyzing Information

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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, though some will be print. Students will learn to formulate effective search strategies, will master basic search logic and commands, and will gain hands-on experience searching databases and other information sources. 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 hunting and gathering was in the Paleolithic: 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 core requirement for both the SILS major and minor. It is designed to be useful in the context of all your other coursework, both in and out of 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.


Jeffrey Pomerantz, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

School of Information and Library Science

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

CB 3360, 100 Manning Hall

Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3360

v: 919-962-8064

f: 919-962-8071

pomerantz at unc dot edu



A note about office hours: I live in Seattle, WA & will therefore not be holding in person office hours in Chapel Hill. I will hold virtual office hours using Google Hangouts. And I am reachable by all of the fine media listed above. Contact me via any means you prefer. I'm happy to schedule a phonecall if you require a longer conversation.
Curriculum vitae

Note for undergraduates: As an alternative to office hours, I'll be happy to do lunch, with enough advance scheduling. You can even get reimbursed for lunch through the Meals with Heels program.

Course management

Sakai site: Only your grades will be in Sakai. All other course content and activity will be on the course WordPress site.

Course Piazza site


No textbook is required.

All readings will be assigned on the course Schedule. All readings will be available on the free web, as an ejournal, or via the Library's ereserves. Readings are also listed in my course Pinboard feed.

Readings are listed on the Schedule on the day on which we will discuss them.

I collect other items of interest using the inls200 tag on Pinboard. Please do the same.


Wikipedia article

Interaction with a librarian

Source evaluations

A Google a day


Grading rubric & other policies

See my course grading rubric.

See my course policies.

See the Online Class Statement.

Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

  • Wikipedia article: 80%
    • Topic statement: 10%
    • Interaction with a librarian: 10%
    • Source evaluations: 10% each, for a total of 30%
    • Wikipedia article: 15%
    • Citation database: 15%
  • A Google a day: 10%
  • Participation: 10%


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