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College of Professional and Global Education · School of Information

Seminar in Contemporary Issues - Indigenous Cultural Institutions and Practices of Librarianship
INFO 281

  • Fall 2023
  • Sections 06, 18
  • 3 Unit(s)
  • 08/21/2023 to 12/06/2023
  • Modified 08/08/2023

Canvas Information

This course will be available on Canvas beginning August 21st, 6 am PT.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Contact Information

Dr. Ulia Gosart
Office Hours: Virtual office hours. Telephone advising by appointment, email to schedule. 

Course Information

Asynchronous Zoom Meetings

Dates: 8/19/2022 - 12/6/2022

Course Description and Requisites

This course focuses on tribal cultural organizations and library services. It explores topics in the areas of tribal governance, Indigenous rights, history of library services in the U.S. tribal communities, and culturally sensitive collection management protocols and practices.

This course is designed to facilitate learning experience through theory and practice. In best cases it may include contact with tribal cultural workers and library professionals servicing tribal cultural institutions. The course consists of three thematic components: introduction to tribal communities and Indigenous rights; Indigenous cultural institutions, services and practices; and stewardship of Indigenous content materials. This course is recommended to students interested in working in tribal cultural institutions or with tribal communities, and/or planning to care for collections containing Indigenous materials.


INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204, other prerequisites may be added depending on content.

Classroom Protocols


Students are expected to participate fully in all class activities. It is expected that students will be open-minded and participate fully in discussions in class and debate in a mature and respectful manner. Use of derogatory, condescending, or offensive language including profanity is prohibited. Disagreement is healthy and perfectly acceptable. Expressing disagreement should always include an explanation of your reasoning and, whenever possible, evidence to support your position. In accordance with San José State University's Policies, the Student Code of Conduct, and applicable state and federal laws, discrimination based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability is prohibited in any form.

Program Information

Course Workload

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group; contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Goals

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes) Supported

INFO 281 supports the following core competencies:

  1. A Demonstrate awareness of the ethics, values, and foundational principles of one of the information professions, and discuss the importance of those principles within that profession.
  2. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.
  3. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of key concepts and terms used in reference to work with tribal communities, for example, self-determination, sovereignty, tribal consultation.
  2. Understand the significance of cross-cultural communication and best practices for cross-cultural communication in the field of Library and Information Science (LIS).
  3. Demonstrate understanding of protocols and legal norms associated with Indigenous rights to knowledge, data and records for example, UNDRIP, NAGPRA, and Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. Develop awareness of roles and responsibilities associated with tribal consultation and benefits of the benefits of collaborating with tribes on stewardship of Indigenous content materials.
  4. Describe theories and research methods associated with Indigenous Librarianship, and articulate prominent issues in this LIS sub-field in writing and orally.

Course Materials


No Textbooks For This Course.

Course Requirements and Assignments

Discussions (6 total): 5 points each = 30 points (30% of your total grade)
Students will form groups and research various topics related to the themes of the course and report their findings in writing using the discussion feature of the class. They will also respond to their peers (Course Learning Outcomes: #1, #2, #3, #4).

Community profile: 30 points (30% of total grade)

Students will identify a tribal community and will construct a report that (a) documents major features of this community, and (b) analyzes activities supporting the protection of the cultural and/or intellectual heritage of that community. This report is the major step toward completing the analysis of the cultural institution. Students are required to use at least one normative document issued by tribal authorities. Students are also encouraged to use diverse data sources in addition to consulting relevant materials from the class. These sources may include tribal websites, scholarly works, state and/or federal government reports, interviews with tribal officials and/or historical preservation officer(s), and trustworthy news reports. Please refer to the description of the assignment for details (Course Learning Outcomes: #1, #2, #3, #4).

Cultural institution profile: 30 points (30% of total grade)

Students will identify a tribal cultural institution and construct a report on how and in what way the chosen institution functions to preserve community history, language, and/or culture. Composition of this report is specific to individual projects; students are encouraged to rest their analysis on the information about cultural, historical, political, and economic practices. There is no suggested length for this project as long as it is complete and follows the suggested guidelines. Please refer to the description of the assignment for details (Course Learning Outcomes:#1, #2, #3, #4).

Presentation: 10 points (10% of total grade)

Students will develop a 15-minute presentation to inform the class about their research process and results. This presentation will feature only core//major findings; further readings and resources might be suggested at the end, yet not examined as a part of the presentation. The goal  is to share the work with the students' community and develop presentation skills. The primary deliverable is the content; while interactive format is encouraged. Students may use PowerPoint, Prezi; they may create videos or employ Zoom; the choice is theirs. Students will submit their work to Canvas and post their presentations or links to the presentations using the relevant discussion board for others to see (Course Learning Outcomes: #1, #4).

Grading Information

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100A
94 to 96A minus
91 to 93B plus
88 to 90B
85 to 87B minus
82 to 84C plus
79 to 81C
76 to 78C minus
73 to 75D plus
70 to 72D
67 to 69D minus
Below 67F

In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA) level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, or BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9 (PDF), relevant university policy concerning all courses, such as student responsibilities, academic integrity, accommodations, dropping and adding, consent for recording of class, etc. and available student services (e.g. learning assistance, counseling, and other resources) are listed on the Syllabus Information web page. Make sure to visit this page to review and be aware of these university policies and resources.

Course Schedule




Assignments//points (100 total)

Module 1


Discussion 1: Not graded

0 points

Module 2

Indigenous peoples, tribal communities

Discussion 2

5 points (5% of total grade)

Module 3

History of librarianship in Indian Country

Discussion 3

5 points (5% of total grade)

Module 4

Indigenous librarianship 

Discussion 4

5 points (5% of total grade)

Module 5

Indigenous cultural institutions 



Module 6

Tribal libraries and archives

Community Profile

30 points (30% of total grade)

Module 7

Knowledge classification & Indigenous classification systems 



Module 8

Indigenous collections & cataloging

Discussion 5

5 points (5% of total grade)

Module 9

Protocols on Indigenous knowledge & NAGPRA

Discussion 6

5 points (5% of total grade)

Module 10

Managing Indigenous Collections in Non-Indigenous Institutions: Issues



Module 11

Managing Indigenous Collections in Non-Indigenous Institutions: Some solutions 

Discussion 7

5 points (5% of total grade)

 Module 12

Indigenous intellectual and cultural rights    

Module 13

Collaboration with communities

Cultural institution profile

30 points (30% of total grade)

Module 14




Module 15


Research project presentation

10 points (10% of total grade)