Graduate School of Library and Information Science - The University of Texas


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LIS 382.5, Government Information, examines sources, services, and policies related to government information at multiple levels: international, federal, state, and local. The course’s emphasis, however, is on U.S. federal information, with a secondary emphasis on state information, especially in Texas, and a lesser emphasis on international and local government information.

Students who complete this course successfully will be prepared for professional activities such as policy research and analysis in public and private enterprises, policy advocacy, research in information and media organizations, and legal research. They will be even better prepared if they also successfully complete LIS 390.1 Federal Information Policy, taught each fall semester.

The goals of Government Information (LIS 382.5) are multiple:

  • To help all students fulfill their obligations and exercise their rights as citizens. An essential part of citizenship is oversight of government, and being familiar with government information and government structures contributes directly to such oversight.
  • To ensure that iSchool graduate students develop expertise with government information resources as providers of information services to others.
  • To give graduate students in all disciplines increased expertise in the use of government information resources and increased insight into important information policy issues; students from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the College of Communication, the Graduate School of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Liberal Arts are especially welcome to join the students from the School of Information.
  • To help graduate students in all disciplines develop professional and personal strategies for evaluating governmental information sources and services.

In order to achieve these goals, the course will involve:

  1. Hands-on experience with the use of government information in various formats, with doing research using government information, and with the strengths and weaknesses of government information services and products; print, digital, and microform formats will all be used.
  2. Study of the lifecycle of government information, from creation through organization and dissemination to use, archiving, and destruction; students will gain proficiency especially in the use of legal and policy-related government information services and products.
  3. consideration of the challenges and opportunities presented by digital information technologies to users and managers of government information.
  4. Identification and study of selected important policy conflicts in the government information lifecycle, especially in its funding, creation, dissemination, and use.
  5. Consideration of the complex and dynamic relationship between public sector and private sector organizations in the description, organization, and distribution of public information.
  6. Discussion of “fee or free” conflicts arising from government information and the investment of public monies in its creation and dissemination.
  7. Serious examination of selected major policy issues related to privacy of government records, intellectual property (especially copyright), freedom of information, the Federal Depository Library Program, constitutional conflict among branches of government about information management and dissemination, and information resources management (IRM).
  8. Development of personal and professional criteria for the evaluation of government information services and products appropriate to various audiences, uses, formats, and professional situations; the comparison of digital and print resources may be of particular interest to students in the course.
  9. Development of particular expertise in providing research support to other users of government information by iSchool students.

The course has no prerequisites, and it is offered to graduate students across the university.

The assignments for the course will include:

  • Reference problem sets aimed to help students develop skills in the identification, location, and use of important sources of government information
  • Issue analysis papers
  • Reports on the information initiatives of government agencies
  • Local site visits – these visits are required rather than optional.