About the Course

Learning objectives

In this course, students learn, read original research, discuss and write about the practice, study and theory of human information behavior. Human information behavior is the study of the interactions between people, the various forms of data, information, knowledge and wisdom that fall under the rubric of "information" and the situations (contexts) in which they interact. This course provides students an introduction to the human aspects of the world of library and information services, feedback on how to interact with the literature in our field, a greater awareness of the human information behavior around us and an opportunity to work with peers to analyze and present additional relevant research. By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the theoretical foundations of human information behavior;
  2. Analyze, synthesize and evaluate research findings about human information behavior in a variety of different contexts;
  3. Be able to think critically and reflectively about human information behavior, engage in scholarly discussion, and reflect on the learning process;
  4. Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively to build knowledge of information behavior in a variety of different contexts
  5. Be able to apply concepts and research findings from human information behavior to a variety of library and information service settings, as well as to other aspects of life.

Class structure

What to expect

Daily Plan

This is a pretty fast, intensive class, because we have a lot of material to cover and about 19 sessions over five weeks in which to cover it. You are expected to come to class on time (read: get here a little early) and be prepared to discuss the concepts and details from the assigned readings.

Session notes

I will post my notes to the course site as I prepare for each session.

See the schedule for links to lecture notes.

These are intended as an open educational resource. Please use them however you see fit.

A Note on Computers

This is a (mostly) paper-free course. There will be no paper products generated in this class and there is no printing requirement.

Bring your laptops to class. You will probably be using them a lot.

About > Structure > Reading > Evaluation > Grading > Policies

Reading materials

This is a very reading-intensive course

We will be reading empirical, evidence-based articles about information and library science published in peer-reviewed journals throughout the class. These articles are mainly published in the following journals:

You may consider signing up for table of contents email alerts for these journals, which will help you stay abreast of the current literature in the field of human information behavior. Instructions on how to do so are available on the websites for each journal.

Most readings will be available either on the open web or through the univerity's proxy.

Other readings

I will suggest other readings that you may want to indulge in. There are several good overview books that you may want to own or at least look at as well.

About > Structure > Reading > Evaluation > Grading > Policies

About > Structure > Reading > Evaluation > Grading > Policies


This class has two exams, and there are 3 major assignments that will correspond to learning objectives in the course. You will also present and discuss your work during the last regular day of class. All of the assignments are interconnected, so it is important to complete the tasks in succession by the due dates listed in the chart below.

In addition, participation is a component of your grade, as this is a seminar-style discussion class.

Assignment Tasks

There are 3 major assignments for the course. Assignment tasks are broken down in the grade contract. They build on one another, so it is impossible to do one without first having completed the one before. You will find descriptions and instructions for the assignments on the schedule page.

Assessment breakdown

Table 1: List of required course tasks

Assignment Corresponding learning objectives % Due date
Evidence summary 2,3,5 20 Jul 3 at 23:59
Diary and analysis 1,3,5 20 Jul 16 at 23:59
Term paper 1,2,3,5 30 Jul 26 at 23:59
Final Exam 1,2,4,5 10 Jul 31 at 18:00
Class discussion / participation 3,4,5 20 Ongoing

Due Dates

Each task is due at the date and time specified in the schedule. BUT, talk to me in advance if you feel like you need more time. I'm just trying to keep us moving forward.

The last regular day of class will be reserved for you to present your work to your peers. We will have a final exam on the exam day.

Submitting Assignments

All assignments should be emailed to the instructor by the due date at the time specified unless arrangements have been made otherwise.


In addition to the assignments, participation is a major component of this class since it is a discussion-based class. Participation, of course, means coming to class: that is mandatory. It also means bringing something to the class by way of discussion or links shared with the rest of the class. Since we are a small class this summer, we will decide on the first day how best to accomplish the sharing of resources.


Attendance is mandatory. BUT, talk to me if you need to miss class. I trust that you know what is best for you and what you need to be sucessful. Help me help you through any dificulty you might be having.

About > Structure > Reading > Evaluation > Grading > Policies


Table 2: Course grades

Explanation of UNC grading systems:

Percentage Grade UG Grade G What it means
95> A H Highest level mastery of course content
92-94 A- H
87-91 B+ P
83-86 B P Totally acceptable performance
80-82 B- P
77-79 C+ P
73-76 C P
70-72 C- L Marginal performance in course requirements
67-69 D+ L
60-66 D L
<60 F F For whatever reasons, an unacceptable performance

Grades and Progress

We will use the standard UNC grading scale for this course. Assignment tasks are rubricated and points will be assigned by the instructor after the completion of each task. Rubrics are not published, but are based on the assignment descriptions.

Grades will be made available on a rolling basis.

About > Structure > Reading > Evaluation > Grading > Policies

Course Policies

Instructors and students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill adhere to the Code of Student Conduct. Accordingly, you all should recognize that most software applications available in the computer lab are copyrighted and cannot be copied. We will primarily use open source software for this course, which does allow for copying. It is important to know the difference and heed the terms of software licences.

We can learn much from each other and we will do that. I expect each of you to help each other. We'll discuss what we expect in terms of cooperative, collaborative, shared work and the honor code.

Honor Code

It shall be the responsibility of every student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to obey and support the enforcement of the Honor Code, which prohibits lying, cheating, or stealing when these actions involve academic processes or University, student or academic personnel acting in an official capacity.

Campus Code

It shall be the further responsibility of every student to abide by the philosophy of the code; namely, to conduct oneself so as not to impair significantly the welfare or the educational opportunities of others in the University community.

Instructor Responsibilities

I have a role to play as well, and I will fulfill these responsibilities.

Shared Responsibilities

The system rests on several central tenets:

The university community, including faculty and students, share a commitment to the pursuit of truth, and the dissemination of knowledge to succeeding generations of citizens devoted to the high ideals of personal honor and respect for the rights of others.

These goals can only be achieved in a setting in which intellectual honesty and personal integrity are highly valued; other individuals are trusted, respected, and fairly treated; and the responsibility for articulating and maintaining high standards is widely shared.

Both students and faculty must play active roles in fostering a culture in which honor is prized and acting to remedy violations of community norms relating to academic misconduct, injuries to members of the University community, and conduct that adversely affect University operations and resources.

The principles of academic honesty, integrity, and responsible citizenship govern the performance of all academic work and student conduct at the University as they have during the long life of this institution.

Your acceptance of enrollment in the University presupposes a commitment to the principles embodied in the Code of Student Conduct and a respect for the most significant Carolina tradition.

Your reward is in the practice of these principles.

Your participation in this course comes with the expectation that your work will be completed in full observance of the Honor Code.

You are encouraged to work together with your fellow students and to share knowledge and learning.

However, academic dishonesty in any form is unacceptable, because any breach in academic integrity, however small, strikes destructively at the University's life and work.


Plagiarism is not tolerated in this or any course or academic context. Your work for this course will be your own, though almost everything that we do in class will be collaborative.

We will also be using and writing open source software and documentation in this class. Proper crediting of work and adherence to open licensing requirements is an important part of this course and will help us to better understand and avoid plagiarism and license violation.

Please go through this tutorial and then email me the result: UNC LIbraries Plagiarism Tutorial.

Diversity and Inclusion

In support of the University's diversity goals and the mission of the School of Information and Library Science, SILS embraces diversity as an ethical and societal value.

We broadly define diversity to include race, gender, national origin, ethnicity, religion, social class, age, sexual orientation and physical and learning ability.

As an academic community committed to preparing our graduates to be leaders in an increasingly multicultural and global society we strive to:

The statement represents a commitment of resources to the development and maintenance of an academic environment that is open, representative, reflective and committed to the concepts of equity and fairness.

Class conduct and expectations

This class is not a safe space, but a brave space. Here you are encouraged to be your most authentic self, take intellectual chances, make mistakes. Our social contract in this class requires that we respect the above guidelines regarding inclusion and expand them. So, be brave enough to make the spaces around you safe for people who are different than you.

People are complex. Our identities are fluid and performative, but they are also real and important. It is incumbent upon each of us to remember that, particularly if we come from a place of privilege which allows us to think that everyone has the same advantages and opportunities that we have. Try to recognize privilege and work to break the structural inequalities that accompany it, even in this class.

None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. But: if you don't know what you're doing, you can't make mistakes. You don't have any parameters for understanding what is and isn't a mistake. We are learning together and that entails accepting our ignorance and working through it toward something better: knowledge. 

Think, before you speak or act, about how your words and actions affect those around you. Symbolic violence is real and can be committed very easily. It is usually not recognized as such by those committing it. Take care that your words and actions are not marginalizing those who find themselves regularly marginalized. Instead, use your words and actions to empower and avocate for each other. 


Once you have read this syllabus in full, please click here and email me a picture of a dinosaur.

About > Structure > Reading > Evaluation > Grading > Policies

Syllabus -