LIBR 557 (3) Information Retrieval Concepts and Practice


MLIS and Dual MAS/MLIS: completion of the MLIS core

MAS: completion of MAS core and permission of the iSchool Graduate Advisor. Basic knowledge of web design highly recommended.

GOAL: The primary focus of this course is on the techniques and strategies required to effectively and efficiently use online retrieval systems; it builds on the skills and techniques covered in the MLIS Core. Current research in online retrieval is also covered. Although an ability to conduct searches in one or more systems, such as Proquest or search engines such as Google, is an expected outcome of the course, it is not a major objective. Instead, the focus is on more conceptual issues, such as database structure, language issues, search strategies, and evaluation of results. Specific online systems serve as illustrations. The course is designed to provide students with a strong base to learn other systems, especially given today’s ever-changing information environment, in addition to knowledge of specific systems.


Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Understand the research basis for selected information retrieval concepts, theories and models [1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 4.1]*
  • Analyze and discuss current issues and research in information retrieval [1.3, 4.1]*
  • Understand and appreciate the capabilities and limitations of information retrieval systems and models [1.3, 2.1]*
  • Demonstrate appropriate search strategies and vocabularies for information retrieval [1.1, 1.3, 1.4]*
  • Demonstrate problem solving skills to handle a complex search problems [1.1, 1.3, 1.4]*
  • Identify and discuss problems, issues, and future developments in information retrieval 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2,2, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1]*

* Course objectives are stated in terms of student learning outcomes and reference the iSchool Statement on Graduate Competencies.


  • Use of search vocabularies (controlled, natural, free, pre-coordination, numeric, etc.) and their application in specialized search environments
  • Advanced search strategy formulation
  • Current information retrieval research issues and trends
  • The content and structure of information resources in databases and on the WWW, with emphasis on relevance to retrieval
  • Various models of information retrieval (IR) systems, WWW search tools, with emphasis on relevance to retrieval
  • Principles for effective searching and variations in search strategies and tactics
  • Alternatives in presentation of results to users and evaluation of retrieval results
  • Identify and discuss problems, issues, and future developments in information retrieval
On this page