LIS 670  – Legal Issues for Information Professionals

Course Syllabus - Winter 2003


Professor:         Dr. Samuel E. Trosow


Office: 275D Middlesex College  - 661-2111 x88498 

27 Law Building - -661-2111 x82282


Winter 2003 Office Hours:

                        Middlesex: Wednesday 1-3

                        Law: Thursday 1-3   (commencing in February)        

                        and by appointment                                                               


Course Description:

An exploration of the various areas of the law which impact on the work of the information professional. Consideration of the expertise which the information professional can contribute to the development of the law in each area and an analysis of appropriate avenues for law reform. Discussion of the impact of technological innovation in computers and communications technology in each area. Analysis of the concept of information lying behind the legal constructs affecting information flow in Canadian society.


Course Objectives:

1.  To introduce students to various areas of policy-making in the legal context affecting the information field;

2.  To provide students with the opportunity for sufficient grounding in the relevant areas of the law to permit the students to be confident to effectively express opinions, in the relevant forums, reflecting the information professional's expertise;

3.  To allow students to gain familiarity with the legal context of various work environments for information professionals in order to allow the students to become efficient and effective in any of those contexts.


Relationship to the Objectives of the MLIS Program

Students who complete this course will be able to: 

1.demonstrate an awareness of professional values and standards (from Goal 2, Obj. 1a); 

2.respond to change in a spirit of intellectual inquiry (from Goal 2, Obj. 1b); 

3. analyse major problems of the discipline and profession in a spirit of creativity and critical   inquiry;  (from Goal 2, Obj. 1e). 

4. demonstrate a critical awareness of contemporary management principles (from Goal 2, Obj. 1f);. 

5. communicate and work cooperatively and effectively with others, including users, colleagues, employers and members of the community  (from Goal 2, Obj. 1j);


Assignments and Grading:


Short Position Papers: 30%


#1 Due in class February 12th  (15%)

#2 Due in class March 19th  (15%)

For each assignment, you will be given a scenario and asked to write a position paper of approximately five pages. You will have two weeks for each assignment. The format will be discussed in class.


Midterm: 25%


In Class February 19th, open book.


Annotated Literature Review Assignment: 30%


Identification of Topic: February 12th 
Draft Problem Statement/ Introduction: March 5th
Class Presentation: April 9th
Final Literature Review: Due in Class: April 16th

(further detail below)


Class Participation: 15%


Class will be conducted as a forum for discussion. A class e-mail list will be available so this discussion can continue throughout the week. Students are expected to have read the assigned material and come to class prepared to discuss/critique/synthesize these readings. In addition to the required readings, students are encouraged to bring additional literature to the attention of the class and to forward items of interest via the class e-mail list.




Tentative Course Outline:


Week 1: January 8


Week 2: January 15

Overview of the Canadian Legal System

Introduction to Legal Citation and Research


Week 3: January 22

Legal Identities

Public Library Acts

Enforceability of Agreements


Week 4: January 29

Liability Issues

Exclusion policies

Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Intro

            Position paper #1 assigned


Week 5:  February 5

Intellectual Freedom Issues I


Week 6: February 12

Intellectual Freedom Issues II

            Position paper #1 due

            Identify Literature review topic


Week 7: February 19: Midterm


(no class February 26th)


Week 8: March 5

Access to Government Information

Draft Literature Review Problem Statement Due


Week 9: March 12


            Position paper #2 assigned


Week 10: March 19

Copyright & Licensing I


Week 11: March 26

Copyright & Licensing II

            Position paper #2 due


Week 12: April 2

            International Issues


Week 13: April 9

            Literature Review Presentations


Week 14: April 16


Literature Reviews due



Annotated Literature Review Assignment:

This assignment requires that you select a topic of interest to you and search the scholarly literature of library and information science, communications research, law, political science (or any other related discipline) to find recent articles, books, or other resources (including non-print materials) that cover your subject. You may choose any problem relevant to the course that is of most interest to you. 

You may choose either of two formats for your literature review:

1)   The first format is to begin with a short essay summarizing the major issues, theories, and areas of concern within the topic, followed by a critical annotated bibliography of the articles, books or non-print materials dealing with the topic. In this case the bibliographic data is given prior to the annotation for each item cited.

2)   The alternative format is the essay review. In this format, you develop the themes of the topic around the literature, citing important sources and providing critical analysis and comparison of the sources. Articles in ADVANCES IN LIBRARIANSHIP and ARIST serve as excellent models for this format. If you choose this option, a bibliography will need to be attached to your essay. Please be careful to distinguish between a research paper and a literature review.  I do not want you to write a research paper.  If you would like to write an essay and have questions about this, please ask. 

In either case you must be sure that complete bibliographic information (author, title, date of publication, place of publication, publisher, number of pages, edition, series data) is given for each item cited. Remember that a critical bibliographic essay or annotated bibliography includes not only a description of the work, but also an evaluation of how useful it is, a statement describing the intended audience and whether it presents an objective evaluation of the material.  Simply describing the work cited is insufficient.

In either case, your review should contain in the range of 20 – 25 sources and should begin with a coherent statement of the problem you are exploring. I will discuss the preparation of problem statements in class.

You will be graded on: the coherence of your problem statement, the appropriateness of items selected with respect to the topic, organization of material, clarity of expression (including spelling and grammar), correct bibliographic information, and use of proper bibliographic format.  Your review should conform to the APA Publication Manual, or some other format of your choice. The important thing is to be consistent throughout.

Please send me a note about your intended topic no later than  February 12th and a draft of your Problem Statement/Introduction by March 5th.  In selecting a topic, it is important to avoid being too general.  For example, topics such as, “Libraries and Copyright Law” or “Censorship and Libraries” are too general and need further focus. At the same time, if your topic is too narrow, you may have difficulty finding enough material.