University of Alberta

LIS 536


Toni Samek

Calendar Description:
Online information storage and retrieval services, including their development and use.

By the end of the semester, the student should be able to: interpret a patron's information request; formulate a search strategy using appropriate language; execute an effective online search; evaluate search performance; and, discuss current issues related to the online environment.

This course is designed to acquaint the student with both the theory and practice of the online environment. Attention will be given to a variety of issues in the context of electronic reference services as well as the basic principles of online searching. The emphasis of the course will be on reference databases, though others types of databases will be introduced.


Course Relationships:
Prerequisites are LIS 501, 502, 503, and 506.

Assignments and Evaluation

  1. Participation 10%
    Class participation is individual contribution for the benefit of the class as a whole. Participation is a collective exercise. The purpose is for all members of the class to join comfortably in the process. Factors to be considered in class participation include, but are not necessarily limited to: presence, preparation, attitude, small group interaction, general class contributions, and cooperative work outside of class. Attendance is required for the vendor workshop as well as the guest lectures.

  2. Exercises 45%
    A series of four hands-on exercises designed to evaluate presentation, accuracy, efficiency, and creativity in online work. Because each exercise is created for the use of DIALOG databases, an extensive all-day workshop on beyond the basics DIALOG searching is scheduled mid-way through the course.

  3. Term Project 45%
    The term paper is designed to draw on theoretical and research literature in LIS and/or other fields of study. Its purpose is to allow in-depth examination of an aspect of online searching in the context of reference services in LIS. The instructor's expectation is that the students work in pairs and include a discussion of their opinions, ideas and recommendations, in addition to a summary of readings. The term project includes: (1) a class presentation, (2) a written paper, and (3) a student handout.
Inclusive Language and Equity:
The Faculty of Education is committed to providing an environment of equality and respect for all people within the university community. Accordingly, staff and students should adhere to the principles of inclusive language use so that students' experiences and views are treated with equal respect and value in relation to their gender, racial background, sexual orientation, and ethnic background.

Required Text/Readings:
Geraldene Walker and Joseph Janes. Online Retrieval: A Dialogue of Theory and Practice. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 1993.