INLS 501: Information Resources and Services

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"The answer is inconsequential. It's how we go about finding the answer."

-- Allen Smith

Please note

This syllabus is under development.

Course description

This course will address sources, services, and systems for providing reference and information service in libraries and information centers. We will examine, create, and evaluate reference sources in a variety of formats. You will gain experience with using, providing, and evaluating reference services in a variety of media.

The course is divided roughly into the following areas:

  • Overview of the reference function and the role of libraries;
  • The history and future of reference service;
  • Major categories of information tools;
  • Structure, access, and evaluation of information tools;
  • Reference collection development;
  • Question negotiation;
  • Search skills and search strategy; and
  • Evaluation of reference services.

INLS 501 is an introduction to reference sources and services, broadly construed. If you are interested in reference work in specific environments, SILS offers a variety of courses: INLS 703, 704, & 705, 708, 709, and others.

Course objectives

By the end of the course, students will:

  1. Be able to identify appropriate information sources and search tools for various types of information needs, and
    1. Use these sources and tools effectively,
    2. Evaluate information sources and search tools for quality,
    3. Evaluate information sources and search tools for relevance to their own information needs,
  2. Understand the steps of the reference transaction, including question negotiation and search strategy development,
  3. Be able to create documents for indirect reference.


Jeffrey Pomerantz
Associate Professor
School of Information and Library Science
Office: 306 Manning Hall
Office hours: Tu/Th 11-12:30
Phone: 962-8064
Twitter: @jpom

Textbook & reading

There is one required text for this course:

Bopp, Richard E. and Linda C. Smith. (2001). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction, 3rd ed. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Available in the bookstore and on reserve in the SILS library.

Additional reading

Reference is a central function of libraries, and as a result a lot gets written about it. Bopp & Smith is the textbook that we use in this course, but another good text is the two-volume work by Katz:

Katz, William A. (2002). Introduction to Reference Work, Volume I: Basic Information Sources. 8th Ed. New York: McGraw‑Hill.

Katz, William A. (2002). Introduction to Reference Work, Volume II: Reference Services and Reference Processes. 8th Ed. New York: McGraw‑Hill.

And there are several journals dedicated to reference, including:


Question Answering and Source Evaluation

Internet Public Library

Social Q&A

Street Reference

Instruction Observation

Grading rubric & other policies

See my course grading rubric.

See my course policies.


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