Welcome | Course Contents | Observation | Accessing the Course | Professional Vocabulary
Communicating | Grades | Student Responsibilities

Orientation for the Summer 2015 online Introduction to Reference class is on Monday, June 8th, at 6:30 pm in room 139 of the Ozuna (library/LRC) building. Attendance is mandatory. If you are unable to attend, please email Professor Glass at cglass@alamo.edu.


Welcome to the online class of LBRA 1375.001, Intro. to Library Reference.

Being an online course, an iron will and self discipline will be required of you to keep up with the schedule (see Syllabus for the schedule).

In addition, all the traits of a good student will have to be employed. Read the following (and take notes, there will be a test):

Becoming a Student Follow the links and read the sites until you arrive at the last link "How To Take an Exam." These pages are critical for you maximizing your college experience.

Read about the science of learning at Memrise Science under each of the three principles, click on "Learn more"

Also, read these two sites recommended by our department chair:

How to be a Successful Online Student

Distance Learning 101

Additionally, there may be technical problems. Call Support Central at 210-486-3777 for help. My (the Professor) home number is 210-561-7905. My email is cglass@alamo.edu. The district does not allow me to communicate with you through my private email listed at the bottom of this page.

In addition, before posting any Discussions, please read Student Communications Skills. It is important in every class and in this class will constitute 3% of your final grade. I shall be grading you on this in every Discussion which you post. Other courses in the Alamo College District will also use this same format for grading.

There are two accepted ways to recall information useful to you. One is memory. Aristotle tells the story of Simonides, a man who could remember all the guests murdered at his banquet by the places where they sat in the destroyed building. Your "place" or "location" memory, for some reason, is much better than other types of memory. (For instance, although you may have been gone a long time, you can still remember all the details of the house in which you grew up.) This placement mnemonic method was expanded in the early Middle Ages to the so-called "Cathedral of memory." The technique was to construct in your mind a vivid picture of a cathedral (like your home), every room, every piece of furniture, every picture on the wall, everything. Then, when you wanted to remember something, you would relate (mentally attach) the items to the items in your mental cathedral. The vividness of the place memory would facilitate your retaining the list of items or whatever you needed to retain.

The other method, used since antiquity, is note-taking. Not only does the act of note-taking facilitate the retention of material, but you also have the notes to take with you and review while you are traveling, waiting, or otherwise wasting time.

On a more general note, "... it has been abundantly proved that there is no more effective means of strengthening the mind than by the earnest pursuit of [the Latin language] (D'ooge, p. 4). Studying any other language will strengthen your mind and your memory. "You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once." (Czech proverb) "The limits of my language are the limits of my universe." (Ludwig Wittgenstein). Latin has unique advantages. Be sure to read the link above. I would also recommend Greek... and, a personal favorite, the Classics. And, of course, the classics are much more fascinating if you know Latin or Greek!

Please note that you have unlimited chances to re-take your weekly quizzes and final. I believe testing should be for learning, not testing how good your short-term memory is on one try. Plus, repetition burns it into your brain.

Also, please note that every week you have reading material, an exercise to be posted in Canvas, and a quiz in Canvas (in ACES). There is also a 5-hour reference observation required, and a final.

It will be my pleasure to instruct and help you in any way I can. I know we will all enjoy this class, and hopefully, learn a few new things.


Colby Glass, MLIS
Professor Emeritus
Palo Alto College
Learning Resources Center


The course is available online at Ref. Course Online


Course Contents

Hello and welcome to this class. I hope we will all learn a lot about reference sources and services, and maybe have some fun in the process. We are going to study the basic reference tools in various formats. We will use books, periodicals, databases and web sites.

There are some basic reference tools that everyone needs to know about and be able to apply. These are dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes, atlases, yearbooks, handbooks, and bibliographies. There are also a multitude of periodical sources, as well as Internet sources. We will learn about and use them all.

You will also learn about some of the daily tasks of a reference librarian by observing them at their work. There will be a requirement to observe at the reference desk a certain number of hours--5 hours.

There is a lot to learn in this class, but I have always found reference work to be fun and interesting. I love to find the answers to questions that people have, or find the information they need to do a research paper or project. It is even more rewarding to teach them how to find answers themselves. It can be difficult sometimes, but it is rewarding, and it keeps you on your toes.

We will go over the syllabus so that you will be aware of everything required and when. The syllabus will be a guideline for you to follow.

I will always be available to you for questions, concerns or any kind of communication. We will use the Discussions area of Canvas (unless your question is very private, please ask it in the Discussions area; other students may have the same question and if you post it on Discussions, they will all see the answer), but you will also have my email and phone number. My purpose in this course is to assist you in any way I can.

The course is available online at Ref. Course Online



You will be required to complete 5 hours of reference observation and then report all your notes in Discussions. You may select a school, academic, public or special library, but you must be with a professional (MLS degreed) librarian. Keep a log of your hours and have the reference librarian sign off on each session. You do not need to be with the same librarian for each session.

Keep notes in your journal about your time observing reference services. Note any interesting questions and how they were answered, special features of the reference desk or service, method of delivery (in person, telephone, electronic) techniques you observed. Include your thoughts and opinions.

You can do your observations at any reference desk in ANY library; just be sure to get permission first. You will have a observation sheet which will require the signature of the reference librarian you are observing. You should keep notes regarding your experiences at the reference desks in your journal. You can comment about positive and negative observations. You will submit your final report--as well as any interim notes--in the discussions area of Canvas. Submitting it there also allows your fellow students to learn from your experiences.

Please keep your notes on the observation sheet, or one you may develope.

Please REPORT all your findings and thoughts in the Discussions area of Canvas (at least three screens long). (If you wish, you may type your notes on a word processor and then copy and paste to the Discussions post.) You may also be required to turn in the logs, journal and sign-in sheets at the end of the semester.

The report (in Discussions) should be 3-4 screens long. Don't forget to include your thoughts and impressions, both specifically on the questions and generally about the librarian's approach and the job.

Your observation report is due in Discussions before the end of the semester. Since it is time-consuming, I suggest you begin early.


The course is available online at Ref. Course Online



Accessing the course

You will enter our class via ACES.

This is the URL for ACES: http://aces.alamo.edu. To get your User Name click on the link below the sign-in box "How do I get a user name and password?" and follow the instructions. Your User Name will be in red. Be sure to include the numbers if they are in red. Write it down so you don't forget it.

Your default password is the first two letters of your last name in upper case followed by (change to lower case) the last six digits of your social security number. There are no spaces between the letters and numbers. Once you are in, you will be prompted to create a new password which you can remember.

You should now be in ACES with your name at the top. If this does not work, call Support Central at 210-486-3777.

Click on the second tab, "My Courses."

At the top center, beside Course Schedule For: is a drop-down menu. Change it to read "Summer 2015."

Click on the link "INTRODUCTION TO REFERENCE". This should open Canvas.

If you have a pop-up blocker on your browser, Canvas won't open. Blackboard opens even if pop-ups are blocked (because it's an internal server) but Canvas doesn't (because it's an external website). You might need this link, it's a quick guide for students new to Canvas: https://alamo.instructure.com/courses/293886.

On the menu to the left, the first item should be "Home". Click on that.

A new addition this year is the BioSig verification of identity. For an explanation of how this works, go to BioSig. There is an introduction and video about Bio-Sig before the first week. If there are questions or technical problems, call the District Help Desk at 210-485-0555 or the PAC Help Desk at 210-486-3777.

A note on passwords. If you want to be secure, do not use an easy numerical password like 1234, or the word "password", or anything which can be easily found about you like birthday, sister's name, etc. Also, don't use any words which can be found in a dictionary.

Be sure to write down your passwords and store them somewhere secure.

BioSig's recommended browser settings are:

Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 through 10
Mozilla Firefox 12 or above
Google Chrome 9 or above
Apple Safari 5.1 or above
Flash Player 9 or above or a browser with HTML5 support
JavaScript enabled in your browser

Q. Does BioSig work on mobile devices?

A. Yes. A mouse, stylus, touchpad, or touchscreen can be used. Therefore, students can use any PC, tablet or smartphone with the supported browsers and settings.

External Resources:

BioSig-IDô support site


Once in you Canvas class, note that if you click on any of the contents, like Orientation, which is a link to an outside website, the page in Canvas will come up with only the title (Orientation) and a little two-sided arrow in black to the right of it. Click on that arrow and a new window will open with the website.

Your Orientation, Syllabus, and weekly assignments should be listed.

Click on Week 1 and you will see what is in every week: A reading, and a quiz and Discussions. The reading may be text, links, or both. Read them and then try taking the quiz. If you do poorly, just review and then take the quiz again. You are allowed to take the quizzes as many times as you like. The system will record the highest grade you achieve. The quizzes are a learning tool.

Alternatively, the readings, orientation, and syllabus are available online at http://www.criticalthink.info/$$refclass/index.htm. The weekly quizzes and final, however, must be taken in Canvas. The Discussions are also available only in Canvas.


On the left menu in Canvas, there is an item called "Discussions." Go there after reading week 1 and taking the quiz and answer the first question (Week 1 Topic). Each week there will be discussion points. (If the menu on the left has disappeared, you can reopen it by clicking on the two vertical lines to the left.) You should post two to three times each week in Discussions. Discuss the lesson reading, the question for the week, response to other students' comments, etc.

If you have a question, please post it in Discussions instead of emailing me. Other people in the class will probably have the same question and this format will allow everyone to see the questions and answers.

I will also place any announcements or answers in Canvas. Private mail I will answer in Mail.

Your Grades

Any grade below a C for the semester is unacceptable for the program certificate. The course will have to be repeated.

Semester grade includes:

30% = Average of weekly quizzes
30% = Reference Observation (5 hours and report)
30% = Adequate communication and involvement with the class and answering online questions ("Discussions" ; at least ten entries--plus the exercises and the reference observation)
7% = Final
3% = Communications Skills (see Student Communications Skills).

Late assignments--which includes class readings, class participation (Discussions) and weekly quizzes--will have one point deducted for every day they are late. This can be avoided by merely contacting me and telling me that your are ill or having a problem. I will respond.

Student Responsibilities

Students are expected to read the weekly materials, take the weekly quizzes, participate in the class discussions and other communications, all in a timely manner--namely, in the week specified. Students should immediately inform the instructor if they are ill or otherwise incapacitated. Adjustments can be made if I know what's happening.

Professional Vocabulary

In addition, students are to look up any words they do not understand in the dictionary and begin developing a professional vocabulary. They should also use the tools and links provided, taking careful notes in preparation for the weekly quizzes.

Instructor Responses

I usually check the course on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at a minimum. You can expect answers to your emails and Discussions questions accordingly. If technical difficulties or other stresses to the class arise, I will check on things much more frequently. If you have a need, please contact me at cglass@alamo.edu.



D'ooge, Benjamin L. Latin For Beginners. Boston, Ginn & Co., 1909. (Available for free download at Textkit).

Colby Glass, MLIS, Professor Emeritus

http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/textbooks.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/nochildleftbehind.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/educationfree.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/Phil1301/mustread.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/booktechnology.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/alt-news.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/webreplacebooks.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/education.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/propaganda.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/commons.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/readinglifequotes.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/freethinkers.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/shameonus.htm http://www.criticalthink.info/webindex/teenageradvice.htm