Introduction to Digital Collections

This syllabus covers all sections of IRLS671 including 010, 905 and 910.

This is a DRAFT revision, subject to change until the start of class.


Office: 520-621-3565
By Appointment. For advising schedule and appointments, see
Bruce Fulton's picture

Academic Year: 


Course ID and Name: 

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Course Syllabus

Course Prerequisites: 

There are no course pre-requisites. School of Information master’s and archive certificate students are expected to take LIS 504 in their first semester in the program, but they may take this course concurrently.

This is an online course conducted in the (Desire-to-Learn) virtual learning management system.

Students should familiarize themselves with D2L prior to beginning the course. See Students should expect to login to the course on the first day of class.

Students should meet the technology requirements expected of all School of Information students.


Course Description: 

This three-credit course is one of six required for the Certificate in Digital Information Management (DigIn) and is also required or available as a distributed elective in the Archives Certificate and Master's programs. LIS 671 introduces the basic functions of digital curation, a term that refers to the full set of management processes needed to create, select, describe, preserve and facilitate access to all types of digital collections. We will focus primarily on digital collection curation in archives, libraries and museums, but we will also explore and compare digital collections and collection practices from other disciplines, such as e-commerce, government documents and various business document systems and collections, in order to understand both the differences and similarities in the organization, management and preservation of different digital collections.By concentrating on common principles of information organization and information lifecycles, you will be able to translate your learning and skills to many kinds of digital collections across disciplines and institutional cultures.

This course is designed to help new information professionals identify roles to play in managing digital collections, and at the same time to enhance their effectiveness in working across organizational and technical boundaries.


Course Objective: 

By the end of this course, students should have a broad understanding of, and be able to explain, in general terms:

—How digital collections of all kinds are created, organized, described, and used in the digital environment.

—Key technical and organizational problems faced by digital curators.

—Policy challenges faced by libraries, archives, and museums in the digital era.

—How digital collection practices in other disciplines and communities of practice differ and are similar to digital collection practices in cultural memory organizations

—Emerging trends and current research priorities in the curation field.

As a SIRLS M.A. elective, LIS 671is listed under the “Evaluation of User Needs & Information Resources” distribution category. In general, digital curation requires a deep understanding of how the landscape of collections is changing in response to new technologies and management approaches in the digital environment. The course content focuses on the following School of Information student competencies:

A1) Students will demonstrate understanding of basic principles, concepts, and terminology related to the creation, organization, management, access, and use of knowledge and information and will demonstrate the ability to apply them to practical problems.

A3) Students will demonstrate understanding of the use of information and communication technologies in the provision of information resources and services in libraries and other settings.

B5) Students will demonstrate knowledge of types of library and information professions, settings, services, and roles and be able to analyze key issues and potential approaches to these in the areas of their career interest.

B6) Students will demonstrate knowledge of the management of information resources, services and organizations and apply this knowledge to their areas of career interest.

B7) Students will demonstrate knowledge of the roles of interdisciplinary, inter-professional, and community collaboration and alliances in the provision of library and information services.

C9) Students will demonstrate an understanding of the values and service orientation of the library and information professions and their applications in their areas of career interest.


Required Course Materials: 

The Discipline of Organizing: Professional Edition, 3rd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: August 2015 (est.)
Pages: 560
Be sure to get the Professional Edition ebook/pdf bundle (you get both for the one price) 2015 edition directly from O'Reilly at the listed URL. If it is not available by the first week of class, I'll put a copy of the first chapter in D2L content in PDF form to get you started. Free eReaders are available and we'll talk about some recommended ones in class discussion. Use either the ebook or PDF for your reading.
All other readings will be available on the Web, in D2L as electronic reserves or available through electronic holdings at the University of Arizona library. Students will be responsible for retrieving articles from the library databases.


Course Requirements: 

This course is taught in the style of a graduate seminar. Each week, there will be assigned readings and/or video or audio lectures accompanied by supplementary and optional study materials.  Each student is responsible for reviewing all of the assigned material plus optional supplementary material The discussions should be robust and interactive. Students and groups will be penalized for waiting until the last minute to begin posting discussion. Discussion organization, grading rubrics and deadlines will be posted in class along with a topical schedule and assignment calendar by the first day of class.

There will three short hands-on projects including a final project, the details of which will be announced after class begins.

Quizzes may be offered periodically at the discretion of the instructor covering terminology and basic concepts. The grades will not be recorded, but failure to take a quiz when it is offered may adversely affect your participation grade.

There are no graded exams.


Course Grading: 

Depending on enrollment, students may be divided into smaller groups for discussion. Weekly discussions will be graded for class participation, content, writing and interaction with fellow students, per the writing standards listed below. Be prepared not only to express opinions and respond to your classmates but also to provide context, supporting details and examples. Students are responsible for at least one weekly primary post in response to posted discussion topics and questions. The Primary discussion post is due by the Thursday following a unit's Monday opening. Although word counts will not be employed, students might expect to write 300-400 words or more on each primary post.

Interaction with fellow students is mandatory, and students should expect to submit 25-100 words each on at minimum of two substantive responses to other posts for each weekly discussion assignment, due no later than the following Tuesday. Late discussion posts will be penalized.

The project requirements will be announced after the course begins and may involve interim submissions during the semester.

The final grade for the course is based on 70% discussion, graded weekly, including a final allowance for class participation,  and 30% Project work.

Writing Guidelines

Norms of graduate level writing, including appropriate organization, level of expression, use of standard grammar and spelling, and citation of resources, are expected in this class. All graded assignments include elements of writing competence. The existence of problems will be indicated, but the instructors will not edit the student's work. Students who want more detail about the kinds of errors they are making should consult the instructor. Help in improving writing is available through the Writing Center The following Web sites offer excellent advice as well.

    The OWL at Purdue University:

    Chuck Guilford, Paradigm Online Writing Assistant:

Course Policies: 


Students who fail to log in to the course and begin participation by the end of the first week of class may be administratively dropped. The course opens in D2L no later than the first day of class, often a few days before. Visit and select LIS 671 from your list of available courses. If the course is not showing in your list of available courses by the first day of class, contact the School of Information office immediately.

Regular logins and participation in discussion components are mandatory and tracked by the D2L system. This course is not self-paced. Students should plan on logging in regularly throughout the week to review and respond to course materials and readings, discussion posts and announcements. Infrequent logins or failure to participate in required on-line discussion is treated as an absence. It will adversely affect the grade for discussion and may result in the student being administratively dropped from the course.

Accessibility and Accommodations:

It is the University’s goal that learning experiences be as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options. You are also welcome to contact Disability Resources (520-621-3268) to establish reasonable accommodations.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to abide by The University of Arizona Code of Academic Integrity, see The guiding principle of academic integrity is that a student's submitted work must be the student's own.' If you have any questions regarding what is acceptable practice under this Code, please ask an Instructor.

Syllabus and schedule

The information contained in the course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policies, may be subject to change with reasonable advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.

Late Assignment and Discussion Policy

Due dates accompany all assignments. Late assignments including late discussion postings will be penalized 10% for up to five days past due and 20% for discussion or assignments submitted more than five days past the deadline. Discussion may be closed to posting after two weeks. Assignments or discussion more than two weeks overdue will not generally be accepted for credit. In any event, the last day of class is the last day to submit any work for credit.


Incompletes are not generally approved except under exceptional circumstances in advance consultation with the instructor. The grade of I may be awarded only at the end of a term, when all but a minor portion of the course work has been satisfactorily completed. The grade of I is not to be awarded in place of a failing grade or when the student is expected to repeat the course; in such a case, a grade other than I must be assigned. Students should make arrangements with the instructor to receive an incomplete grade before the end of the term. If the incomplete is not removed by the instructor within one year the “I” grade will revert to a failing grade. See


This course is required to meet or exceed the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) guidelines for hours of expected work. ABOR requires a minimum of 135 hours of work for a 3-credit course. As a rule of thumb, students should expect to spend a minimum of 9-10 hours per week over the duration of this course. Most students report needing to spend a greater amount of time on this course compared to other master's level courses they have taken.

Other Policies

All policies and codes of the University of Arizona apply to students in this school. See: for a list of policies. Additionally, the School of Information has behavioral policies. In a class or in communicating with other students, faculty and staff it is perfectly acceptable to disagree with opinions expressed in the posts of your instructor or fellow students, but you are expected to demonstrate professionalism and respect at all times. Personal attacks, bullying, flames, or lack of respect will not be tolerated in email,  discussion boards or in person. Repeated violations in the classroom will result in the student being recommended for administrative drop. Repeated violations in the school community outside of the classroom will be reviewed by the faculty and may result in a recommendation for expulsion from the school or other sanctions to correct the behavior.

Instructor Contact

Bruce Fulton, MLS, PhD

School of Information

1515 E First Street

Office: 520-626-4631

Office hours for virtual courses are by appointment, and are available via Skype, telephone or face to face.

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences