Welcome to the latest edition of the ‘ethics round up’ brought to you by your SLA Legal Division ethics ambassador.
In past updates we have explored ethics from a range of perspectives. We have looked at ethics in law librarianship through statements from your fellow Legal Division members. We discussed how best to conduct yourself over the holiday period (and how to approach technology). Most recently, we looked at integrity in relation to ethics. In this newsletter, I would like to encourage us, as information professionals, to broaden our minds from looking at our own service’s best practice, to exploring that of the institutions we work for.
Whilst I’m sure that all SLA members will be aware of the professional ethics guidelines, how many of us are aware of if our organisation has it’s own ethics code? The chances are it isn’t collated together into one neat document – most likely there are a range of conduct guidelines to follow, but is is vital that each of these is adhered to, allowing you to represent yourself and your firm in the best possible light.
Why not try to track down and pull together points that your institution considers key to acting in an ethical manner, and then try to match these against your information service’s approach? An improvement could be something as simple as donating old editions of key law texts to Pro Bono charities instead of recycling them. Or perhaps if your library operates on social media, maybe you need to check if the way in which it is operating also adheres to your organisation’s approach to ensure consistency?
It isn’t just about aligning yourself with your organisation though – as librarians and information professionals we are well equipped to influence others. We have excellent current awareness skills, and are tapped into how others are operating. Hopefully, we also have great relationships with key stakeholders in our institutions. We also tend to be good at thinking on a large, almost grandiose, scale. Perhaps you feel your organisation’s approaches could be updated? If so, try to effect a change (although, please do so respectfully)!
To leave you with some really big ethical ideas to ponder over, and get the creative juices flowing, I give you a link to the University of Oxford’s Practical Ethics Blog. The following post is from back in November 2012 and outlines some of the best new ethical decisions of last year.
Wouldn’t it be great to have an information professional on this list next year? I see that as perfectly achievable. We work in one of the most exciting, fast moving industries around. Information. The time seems right for an information professional to step up and help to think about how we all access information; be it in our homes, our libraries, institutions, or globally. Get thinking!
SLA Legal Division Ethics Ambassador