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LIS 610
Analytical Reaction Papers

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Description and Purpose

Each student is required to write three analytical reaction papers during the semester. These are meant to stimulate thought and promote further exploration of the topics encountered in the readings and class discussions. They are designed to engage you in critical analysis of prominent issues in the profession in preparation for dealing with these issues on the job. These papers require you to become critical synthesizers—communicating your present perspective is important.


Choose one question set from those offered for each of the three required papers. Answer all parts of the question set you choose. Prepare a typed (using a word processor), concise, well-worded response, with references in the text and either a bibliography or endnotes. Use 1-inch margins, paginate, spell-check and proofread for typographical and grammatical errors. The paper must have a professional appearance, including a title page. Use sub-headings to organize your text, but avoid using the questions as subheadings. Your subheadings should reflect a conceptual organization you create for your text. Always have a conclusion section that pulls the text together at the end. The paper must be 5 pages minimum of text, double-spaced rather than single-spaced, plus a bibliography, all in 12-14 pt. font. Use a standard citation style (e.g., Turabian, APA, MLA).

Please consult Citation Style for Research Papers at the Long Island University website: http://www2.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/workshop/citation.htm if you are not familiar with the afore-mentioned citation styles.

Use the first person to express your own viewpoint, and integrate your reactions to the points of other authors throughout your text instead of just at the end. In other words, in addition to summarizing what the authors say in the required readings, include your own reactions to their views, describe implications for you as a professional, point out any limitations you see, give your own examples from experience or study, and find relationships among these sources. Make your comments throughout your paper as well as in the conclusion.

Cite and integrate information from the following sources: required readings, small group discussions, class lectures and discussions, and Internet discussion groups and/or Web sites. Use the date of the discussion when you cite members of your discussion group or the group's consensus or cite the instructor when including lecture material. In other words, critically analyze, cite, integrate, synthesize and tie-in information from lecture notes, class discussions, Internet, and chapters or articles from the required readings to support your points and conclusions. Other useful sources include supplemental readings from the 610 bibliography, other articles or book chapters that you've read, or material and insights from other courses, professors, and librarians.

Always clearly identify and present your own viewpoint, experience, understanding, opinions, comments, suggestions, and solutions, in addition to those of the author(s), and clearly explain why you hold that view. Make a clear distinction between your own views and those of others (authors, professor, or fellow students). For example, you might introduce your own thoughts with phrases like: "It seems to me that . . ." or "My understanding is . . ." or "I suggest that . . ."

You may use a creative format for the papers. For example, you might address it to a general audience instead of an LIS audience, write a newspaper opinion column, or write it to a class of children of a certain age.

Cited Elements:

Lecture Notes Small Group Discussions Internet listservs/Web Sites
Required Readings Your Own Viewpoint Other Courses, etc. (optional)

First Paper Topics

Choose one of the following three question sets:

  1. What are information needs? Why do people have information needs? How do they arise? Why do people need to read? What are the major findings of published library studies on this topic? What kinds of people read most and least? Why would people tend to avoid libraries and how can librarians help? How do the results of your own informal library survey compare to the published surveys? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the survey method for studying reading habits, library use patterns, and information needs?

  2. What exactly is "information-seeking behavior?" Why do librarians need to understand the psychology of library users in order to serve their information needs? Discuss the critical aspects of information use in libraries, including the user's situation, access, user psychology, user-centered and system-centered constructs, and reader-centered theory. How will you prepare yourself to work with novices in the human-system interface that is the library or other information institution in which you plan to be employed? Be specific.

  3. In what type of library or information setting do you intend to seek employment after graduation? What are the roles and functions served by this type of library? What are the special skills and functions of librarians/information specialists (see recent job descriptions) pertinent to this type of work? What professional organizations govern or support this type of information setting? What are you specifically doing to prepare for work in this setting (specific courses, joining associations, joining listservs, internships, professional networking, attending conferences or workshops, special projects, pursuing other academic degrees, etc.)?

Second Paper Topics

Choose one of the following two question sets:

  1. From the authors you have read, present the historical and current roles played by libraries and librarians. Which role do you believe to be the most important social role for today's society at the beginning of the 21st century? Justify your choice. Which roles will endure into the future? What new services will be necessary to fulfill this role in the future? Be specific.

  2. Briefly explain each of the Five Laws of Librarianship. Justify the importance of each, and state specifically and concretely in behavioral terms how you might seek to fulfill each in your own career as a librarian or information specialist. Are Ranganathan's laws current for today's multimedia, increasingly digitized environment? Contrast with Gorman's revisions. What impact does the Web have on these laws? Do you see a need to add to these laws?

Third Paper Topics

Choose one of the following question sets:

  1. Focus on a particular type of library and/or information work and articulate your philosophy of information service by addressing and integrating: (i) your personal standards; (ii) specific published professional standards, codes, and guidelines; (iii) institutional mission, goals, and objectives; and (iv) the information needs of the community to be served by that organization. Include a discussion of the role of technology in that organization or type of information work. Give specific examples of how you intend to incorporate these standards into your daily work.

  2. Identify and discuss a specific area of information ethics. Discuss the role of ethical guidelines by applying principles to a specific type of information work. What impact on your daily work do you expect ethics to have? Give a specific example of how you would apply ethical guidelines to handle a particular situation (e.g., a user in a public library wants an objectionable book to be withdrawn, a young person looks depressed and searches for material on suicide, parents want the Internet turned off because they fear that their children will be inadvertently exposed to objectionable material, the computer lab uses unlicensed software, a hate group wants to use the meeting room, a homeless person smells awful, etc.).

  3. Define and discuss the concept of intellectual freedom in our profession. Describe the various means used to support it. How has Web access in libraries impacted intellectual freedom issues? Why are librarians committed to providing material from all points of view, regardless of its inherent philosophical or moral truth or falsity? Why is intellectual freedom important in a liberal democracy?

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