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FIT3123 Information access - Semester 1, 2010

Chief Examiner:

Associate Professor Graeme Johanson
Associate Professor
Phone: +61 3 990 32414
Fax: +61 3 990 31077

Contact hours: appointment by email, please

Lecturer(s) / Leader(s):

Additional communication information:

contact by email at any time:


This unit focuses on the provision of reference and information services in a variety of settings, including libraries, and to the information needs and seeking behaviour of many different user groups. The process of satisfying these needs through the reference interview and the application of skilled search strategies, and the provision of online searching and instruction, is explored.

The ways that information resources are procured by libraries and related organisations through purchase or licensing, and supplied to users on a cost-effective, efficient basis are examined. The unit covers the conduct and policy of the selection, purchase, and licensing functions of libraries; the management of collections, both physical and virtual; provision of lending, document supply and photocopying services; preservation of resources; and the impact of co-operative frameworks such as reciprocal borrowing and co-operative collecting. The unit explores the emergent concept of the virtual library, through which eligible users should be able to gain access to any information whether currently in analogue or digital form, wherever held, aided by a common user interface for identifying and requesting appropriate information items.

Unit synopsis

This unit introduces students to the major categories of information resources in all media and how they are accessed through a variety of common user interfaces from anywhere in the world. The process of satisfying these needs through the reference interview and the application of skilled search strategies is explored. The ways that information resources are procured by libraries and e-repositories through purchase or licensing, and supplied to users on a cost-effective, efficient basis are examined. Access and authentication, intellectual property law and professional duty of care are described.

Learning outcomes

At the completion of this unit students will be able to:
  • implement decisions about applying organisational policies for reference and collection services, justify the principles of collection management strategies, and evaluate them;
  • manage networked access for users in the case of electronic resources;
  • develop information literacy programs; and
  • select the best source of knowledge for a practical information need.

Contact hours

2 hrs lecture/wk, 1 hr seminar/wk

Unit relationships


Completion of 36 credit points at level 1 or equivalent


FIT5015, IMS3616, IMS5016, LAR3650, LAR3652

Teaching and learning method

Teaching approach

Students should have access at home to a computer with Microsoft Office software and good Internet and e-mail facilities.

Lectures and tutorials are audio-recorded by means of Monash Lectures Online (MULO), with a slight time delay, and can be retrieved at your convenience from Sound files can be downloaded as an MP3. The audio remains on the website for 6 months. Discussion in tutorials (as in lectures) will be digitised using a special microphone, as an audio file, for MULO.

At the MUSO unit website, at the url above, lecture notes and tutorial exercises will be posted to on-campus students and OCL students alike. (Please note that the Monash student e-mail addresses are used).

Assignment specifications will also be distributed in class, on the website and by e-mail.

For the purposes of disseminating material, on-campus and OCL students, and postgraduate and undergraduate students, are treated the same – i.e., they need to access the MUSO unit website regularly, lectures online, and set readings. Do not expect to receive anything regularly through the post. Students have taken this unit from Canada, London, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the outback of Australia. The Discussion Database on MUSO will be used. Andrew Dixon will endeavour to keep in touch continually in that mode. If you are an online student, Andrew ( will ensure that you are connected into all relevant channels.


Timetable information

For information on timetabling for on-campus classes please refer to MUTTS,

Tutorial allocation

On-campus students should register for tutorials/laboratories using the Allocate+ system:

Unit Schedule

Week Date* Topic Key dates
1 01/03/10 Unit outline. First assignment. Information Literacy.  
2 08/03/10 Nature of knowledge; basic factual sources. Overview of Reference Services.  
3 15/03/10 Common Information Seeking Practices  
4 22/03/10 Information Seeking â Well-structured databases.  
5 29/03/10 Information Seeking -- The Internet. assignment 1 due
Mid semester break
6 12/04/10 the Reference Interview.  
7 19/04/10 The reference process and end users. Evaluation of services.  
8 26/04/10 Collection Management Principles.  
9 03/05/10 Collection Development/Management policies.  
10 10/05/10 Selection Principles and Tools.  
11 17/05/10 Document Delivery and Co-operative Schemes.  
12 24/05/10 Evaluation of collections. assignment 2 due
13 31/05/10 Revise and review. Exams start on 10 June  

*Please note that these dates may only apply to Australian campuses of Monash University. Off-shore students need to check the dates with their unit leader.

Unit Resources

Prescribed text(s) and readings

There are no prescribed texts.

Many readings can be found at,                                          and other readings will be suggested during the semester. Students will also be expected to use Monash University Library resources and Worldwide Web to find additional material.

Other references:

Brophy, P. (2007). The Library in the Twenty-first Century. 2nd edition. London, Facet.

Clayton, P. & Gorman, G.E. (2001). Managing information resources in libraries: collection management in theory and practice. London: Library Association.  Evans, W. (2009). Building Library 3.0; issues in creating a culture of participation. Oxford, Chandos.

Ferguson, S. (ed) (2007). Libraries in the Twenty-first Century; Charting New Directions in Information Services. Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

George, C.A. (2008). User-centred Library Websites; Usability Evaluation Methods. Oxford, Chandos.

Katz, W. (1997). Introduction to Reference Work. (7th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill. Kennedy, J. (2002). Collection management: a concise introduction. Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University. OCLC (2005), Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources, downloadable at:

Recommended text(s) and readings

See above list

Equipment and consumables required or provided

Students studying off-campus are required to have the minimum system configuration specified by the Faculty as a condition of accepting admission, and regular Internet access. On-campus students, and those studying at supported study locations may use the facilities available in the computing labs. Information about computer use for students is available from the ITS Student Resource Guide in the Monash University Handbook. You will need to allocate up to 12  hours per week for use of a computer, including time for newsgroups/discussion groups.

Study resources

Study resources we will provide for your study are:

Weekly detailed lecture notes outlining the learning objectives, discussion of the content, required readings and  exercises; Weekly tutorial or laboratory tasks and exercises with sample solutions provided one to two weeks later; Assignment specifications and sample solutions; A sample examination and suggested solution Access to past examination papers; Discussion groups; This Unit Guide outlining the administrative information for the unit; The unit web site on MUSO, where resources outlined above will be made available.



Examination (3 hours): 50%; In-semester assessment: 50%

Faculty assessment policy

To pass a unit which includes an examination as part of the assessment a student must obtain:

  • 40% or more in the unit's examination, and
  • 40% or more in the unit's total non-examination assessment, and
  • an overall unit mark of 50% or more.

If a student does not achieve 40% or more in the unit examination or the unit non-examination total assessment, and the total mark for the unit is greater than 50% then a mark of no greater than 49-N will be recorded for the unit.

Late assignments submitted without an approved extension may be accepted up to one week late, at the discretion of your lecturer, but will be penalised at the rate of 10% of total assignment marks per day (including weekends).


Total marks available for the assignment = 100 marks.

Marks received for the assignment = 70 marks.

Marks deducted for 2 days late submission (20% of 100) = 20 marks.

Final mark received for assignment = 50 marks. 

After one week, the assignment will score zero.

Assignment tasks

Assignment coversheets

Assignment coversheets are available via "Student Forms" on the Faculty website:
You MUST submit a completed coversheet with all assignments, ensuring that the plagiarism declaration section is signed.

Assignment submission and return procedures, and assessment criteria will be specified with each assignment.

  • Assignment task 1
    assignment 1
    Google v. Libraries
    Due date:
    week 5
    Caulfield School of Information Technology.


    FIT5105, FIT3123 Information Access

      Assignment One: Google vs Libraries   Worth 25%.                                                  Due: week 5, Tuesday 30 March 2010                                    


    For several years (the search engine, Google Scholar and Google Print) have been represented by enthusiasts as a complete substitute for libraries and library services. Some managers of organisations predict that libraries as institutions will fade away in future. There are research reports that provide evidence that Google as a search tool is more and more widely used by students of all ages, and most people use it as their primary source for day-to-day knowledge acquisition. Google has digitised 18 million book titles. But its impact on libraries and their services has not been evaluated.

    In this assignment you are asked to provide a submission to the director of the Australian Library and Information Association, Sue Hutley, on the known current effects of Google on information-seeking via libraries, and the likely future impacts on information provision in libraries as a whole. Submissions have been invited. Imagine that you are working for them both together as a consultant.

    Your submission should include a minimum of ten good-quality sources about the topic. Each source must be at least 10 pages or 4,000 words long, of scholarly quality, i.e., serious refereed text aimed at researchers or in-depth study into the topic. Five of the sources must be obtained from the ‘Electronic Databases’ in the Monash Libraries, and shown to be from them. Cite each source in full using the SIMS Style Guide ( You can use more than ten items in total.



    The total word length of your submission should be 2,000 words. (Your Bibliography is not included in the total word count).

    Points to cover and questions to answer:

    1.Describe the Google services that resemble information provision in libraries, and vice versa.

    2.Currently do the services of the two (Google and the library) complement each other, or do they compete, or are they separate in their functions? Give evidence for your answer.

    3.In the next 5 years, what relevant changes can we expect from Google and from libraries in relation to information-seeking and information provision?

    4.What planning and action do you recommend that an Australian library undertake to ensure its future relevance and viability? Give reasons for your answer.

    5.Can Information Literacy programs in libraries be seen as a remedy for the migration of library usage to Google? If so, how? If not, why not?

    Content of final report.

    1.Front assignment page (use the cover sheet at

    Do not include a Table of Contents. The report is too short to warrant it.


    50 words summarizing the content of your report for the presidents. Name them.

    In order to find how to write an abstract, read J. Rowley 1988, Abstracting and indexing, London Library Association, pp 10-17, and follow the guidelines.


    Summarise why the director needs your report.

    Summarise the overall aims and purpose of your report.

    Describe what your report discovers.

    4.Discussion of the five set questions, above.


    What are the main findings of your submission?

    6.Bibliography. Use the Style Guide for all of your citations. Include all the items that you used for the assignment, and any references that you consider the presidents would need.

    For how to prepare and structure a report, see the report from Monash Language and Learning on report writing, available on the MUSO unit website as a pdf file.


    You will need to absorb the contents of both of these research reports.

    Australian Library and Information Association, Developing a Vision and National Framework for Australian Public Libraries. September 2009. Online as a pdf.

    British Library and Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) (2008), Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future, conducted by the Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research (CIBER) at University College London, at:

    Lessig, L., ‘Copyright deal is a cultural disaster’, in The Australian, 24 February 2010, pp 28-9, at:

    Miller, W., Pellen,ï Rï®Mï®ï¬ï editors. Libraries and Google. Binghamton, N.Y.: Haworth Information Press, c2005.

    For other readings, the reading list for this unit in the Monash Libraries should be consulted.


    Guide to evaluative criteria used for marking by Andrew and Graeme:

    1. are all of the assignment specifications addressed by the student?

    2. are the key concepts understood?

    3. are the aims in the report set out clearly?

    4. are the aims fulfilled, i.e., followed through?

    5. are all the relevant sources of knowledge used and understood?

    6. is any of the work original, special or original to the student, i.e., is it any more than just fulfilling the basic requirements?

    7. is the report structured in a logical, understandable way?

    8. have up-to-date sources of information been used, and acknowledged fully and correctly according to the Style Guide?

    9. is the communication succinct, relevant, and useful? Is the length, space well used? Is it comprehensive, covering all the important aspects than can be fitted in?

    10. are the findings realistic, and sustainable intellectually?

    11. is it all the student’s own work?

    12. does the student make a genuine effort to engage the audience for the report, and marker?

    13. is the general value, worth, purpose, usefulness of search strategies described well by the student?

    14. is the content balanced, professional, unbiased, substantiated with reliable, accurate  evidence?

    15. is the form of report timely and appropriate to the context of the presentation?

    16. is the student aware of the limitations of the report, and topic?

    17. are the audience and marker, guided through the report by the student, i.e., is the structure of the report clear?

    Handing in the report

    Please hand in the full assignment in classes on or before Monday 6 April, to Andrew or Graeme in classes, or upload them to MUSO, or leave them under Graeme’s door (H642), or in his mail box number 6001 at CaSIT on the 7th floor of H, or fax them to (03) 9903 1077, or post them to:

                            Assoc Prof Graeme Johanson,

                            Caulfield School of Information Technology,

                            Monash University,

                            P.O. Box 197, Caulfield East,

    Victoria 3145.

    Graeme Johanson, February 2009.
  • Assignment task 2
    Two ways of collecting?
    collection management project
    Due date:
    12 May 2010
     Caulfield School of Information Technology.

    FIT5105, 3213: Information Access

    Assignment 2: Two ways of collecting?

    Worth 25%.    Length: 2,000 words.      Due: Friday 12 May 2010.


    Some commentators have criticized libraries in the past for being too focused on curating collections, for making sure that the knowledge in their collections is protected from abuse, and kept away from ‘the public’. In the past, we are told, libraries did not ensure that the knowledge in their repositories was fully exploited by as many stakeholders as possible. In contrast to the old protective approach is the attitude that knowledge should be free, accessible, all the time, at any time, to anyone, as it is in a true ‘knowledge commons’. The emphasis in this attitude is on the comfort (intellectual, learning, and physical) of the users of repositories.

    These two extreme approaches affect collection management in several ways. One of them relates to the distinction that is drawn between ‘just in case’ collecting, and ‘just in time collecting’. This is the subject for discussion in your essay.

    What are the advantages and weaknesses of the two approaches? Which of the two is better?

    The difference between them is simply stated: with ‘just in case’ collecting the library (or related repository) collects in the hope (even the off-chance) that content will be required by a future user; with ‘just in time’ collecting the library gathers the content only when it is asked for, as close as possible to the time of the request for knowledge. The same approaches can be found in many businesses which offer products and services – from car production lines to printing new books on demand.

    The two types of collecting are usually illustrated by reference to a large library (like a national library) and to a small special library. The national library is assumed to have a responsibility to care for the nation’s knowledge in perpetuity, not just for tomorrow’s fad. It must serve every citizen as comprehensively as it can. A special library usually has a special obligation to a narrow group of clients with particular interests that are not widely shared across the populace. The special library is special in the senses that it has a limited clientele and narrow content coverage. See the notes for lecture 7.

    How to do it.

    The essay must discuss as many advantages and weaknesses of the two approaches as you can identify. You need to arrive at your own conclusion about which collecting approach is better, in what circumstances, and show why, with the use of scholarly evidence. You need to show how you arrive at your conclusions. You can write a conference paper or position paper if you want to, rather than an essay. Please note the total number of your words at the end of the essay text.

    Writing an essay

    There are some good guidelines for essay writing set out at the website for Language and Learning: Please structure your own essay.

    Some readings


    You will find the basics in these texts, but you will need to find more of your own. Use any number of the suggested readings that you want to. You use at least another 5 references which you find for yourself.

    1.Disruptive Library Technology Jester (2006), ‘Just In Time Acquisitions versus Just In Case Acquisitions’, at: (Written with a tongue-in-cheek tone).

    2.Dixson Library, Sydney (2009), A Library Without Walls; Budgeting Issues, at:

    3.Gorman, G.E. and R.H. Miller (1997), Collection management for the 21st century; a handbook for librarians. Westport, Con., Greenwood Press. Chapter 4, ‘Collection development policies and electronic information resources’.

    4.Hanka, R., Fuka, K. (2000), ‘Information overload and “just-in-time” knowledge’, The Electronic Library, 18  (4) 279 – 285.

    5.Hannan, C. (2000), ‘New millennium, even more technology – can we cope?’ in VALA proceedings 2000, at: .

    6.Harboe-Ree, C., Sabto, Treloar (2004). ‘The Library as Digitorium: New Modes of Information Creation, Distribution and Access,’ in VALA proceedings. At:

    7.Hess, C., Ostrom eds. (2007), Understanding knowledge as a commons: from theory to practice. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

    8.Kapitzke, C., Bruce, B.C., eds. (2006), Libr@ries: changing information space and practice. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    9.Kennedy, J. (2002), Collection management, a concise introduction. Wagga Wagga, Centre for Information Studies, no. 19.

    10.Magnussen, A. (2003), ‘Creating Digital Libraries: a Model for Digital Library Development’, in Proceedings of the ALIA conference, at:

    11.Oppenheim, C., Smithson, D. (1999), ‘What is the hybrid library?’ in Journal of Information Science, 25 (2) 97-112.

    12.Payne, L. (2008),  ‘The Future of Library Collections; Access and Stewardship in a Networked World’, CAVAL, at:

    13.Thomas, S. Cramond, M. Emery, P. Scott (2005), The Digital Library; Current Perspectives and Future Directions. The University of Adelaide Library, at:

    14.Ward, S.M., Wray, T., Debus-Lopez, K.E.,  ‘Collection development based on patron requests: collaboration between interlibrary loan and acquisitions’, Library Collections, Acquisitions,& Technical Services 27 (Summer) 203–213.

    15.Working Party of the Future of Government Libraries Project, Future of government libraries (1994). Just in case or just in time?: strategies for the development and management of Western Australian government library and information services; Report and recommendations of the Working Party of the Future of Government Libraries Project (W.A.). (W.A.), [Perth, W.A.]: Library and Information Services of Western Australia. [Monash Libraries are trying to purchase this item soon].

    Guide to evaluative criteria used for marking:


    1. are all of the essay specifications addressed by the student?

    2. are the key concepts understood?

    3. are the aims in the student essay set out clearly?

    4. are the aims fulfilled, i.e., followed through?

    5. are relevant sources of knowledge used and understood?

    6. is any of the work original, special or original to the student, i.e., is it any more than just fulfilling the basic requirements?

    7. is the essay structured in a logical, understandable way?

    8. have up-to-date sources of information been used, and acknowledged fully and correctly according to the set Style Guide?

    9. is the communication succinct, relevant, and useful? Is the length, space well used? Is it comprehensive, covering all the important aspects than can be fitted in?

    10. are the findings realistic, and sustainable intellectually?

    11. is it all the student’s own work?

    12. does the student make a genuine effort to engage the marker?

    13. is the content balanced, professional, unbiased, substantiated with reliable, accurate evidence?

    14. is the student aware of the limitations of the essay, and topic?

    15. is the marker guided through the content of the essay by the student?

    Handing in the essay

    Please hand in the completed assignment in classes, to Andrew or Graeme, or leave it in my mail box at H6001, or fax it to (03) 9903 1077, or send it to MUSO, or post it to:

    Assoc Prof Graeme Johanson,

    Caulfield School of Information Technology,

    Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University.

    P.O.Box 197, Caulfield East, Victoria 3145, Australia.

    Graeme Johanson, April 2010.


  • Weighting: 50%
    Length: 3 hours
    Type (open/closed book): Closed book

    held in normal exam period

See Appendix for End of semester special consideration / deferred exams process.

Due dates and extensions

Please make every effort to submit work by the due dates. It is your responsibility to structure your study program around assignment deadlines, family, work and other commitments. Factors such as normal work pressures, vacations, etc. are not regarded as appropriate reasons for granting extensions. Students are advised to NOT assume that granting of an extension is a matter of course.

Students requesting an extension for any assessment during semester (eg. Assignments, tests or presentations) are required to submit a Special Consideration application form (in-semester exam/assessment task), along with original copies of supporting documentation, directly to their lecturer within two working days before the assessment submission deadline. Lecturers will provide specific outcomes directly to students via email within 2 working days. The lecturer reserves the right to refuse late applications.

A copy of the email or other written communication of an extension must be attached to the assignment submission.

Refer to the Faculty Special consideration webpage or further details and to access application forms:

Late assignment

Assignments received after the due date will be subject to a penalty of [describe penalty for late submission, describe the deadline for late assignment acceptance or any conditions that are placed on late assignments, e g, "Assignments received later than one week after the due date will not normally be accepted."]

Return dates

Students can expect assignments to be returned within two weeks of the submission date or after receipt, whichever is later.


Please visit the following URL: for further information about:

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