Ethics is defined as "the body of moral principles or values governing, or distinctive of, a particular culture or group." (Random House Dictionary, 2nd ed. unabridged)
Why does ethics matter? Ethics affects behavior. Responsible behavior, regardless of personal biases, is the result of adhering to values or ethics. While most people have a set of personal ethics that affects their daily behavior, the workplace has its own ethics.
Most professions have codes of ethics, that is, fundamental principles that serve as a guide for professional conduct. For example, doctors, lawyers and educators all subscribe to their own codes of ethics.
It is important to understand the ethics of your profession or workplace because this code of ethics provides a background, or framework, for creating policies, procedures and guidelines which influence day-to-day activities. If you are in a position to create policies or procedures, understanding the ethics of the workplace will help you establish reasonable policies and procedures. Even if you are not a policy-maker, understanding the ethics, or values, that shape the policies of your library will help you to be more effective in carrying out your responsibilities.
How ethical issues are handled will vary according to the type of library in which you work, your community, and your library's administration and board. School libraries will have issues that are different from public libraries, and special libraries will have issues that are different from school and public libraries. It is important to have policies, procedures, and guidelines in place that address these issues within the framework of the ethics of the profession.
The American Library Association's Code of Ethics and Library
Bill of Rights state the fundamental principles of the library profession.
They cover all aspects of librarianship, including the following issues:
Equal access for all
Intellectual freedom and censorship
Privacy and confidentiality
Intellectual property rights
In this course, we will define the four issues listed above and discuss their impact on the library community. We will describe some customer service issues that emphasize the importance of having established good policies and procedures. We will also introduce you to the Code of Ethics and the Library Bill of Rights.
Click the arrow below to continue to the next page