Monday, March 12, 2012


Ethics within the library setting seems to be discussed frequently. It is an interesting debate among many library professionals because many of the ethical situations that we deal with on a daily basis are difficult and sometimes cross with other ethical issues. For example, in a recent article that I read by Don Fallis he states that "it has been suggested that the duty to protect the privacy of library patrons (e.g. by maintaining the confidentiality of their circulation records) conflicts with the duty to protect our society from terrorists (2007, p.25). I myself was asked this question within my first semester. What would I do in this scenario? Even today I am still puzzled. There are so many dilemmas that we face this day and age, and I have trouble with the idea of maintaining the library ethics, especially in regards to these types of topics. Its really hard for someone coming into the profession to really grasp it.

That is not to say that I do not believe in maintaining them. I do believe we have the freedom to retain information. My problem is what do I do? How do I tell the FBI no, no you can not have that information. Get what I am trying to say?

Fallis discusses how not many ALA accredited schools really maintain an ethics course for MLIS students, nor have it as a priority class. I got curious and went to my current schools webpage and we do have the class, but we of course do not have it as a required elective. I kind of agree that this should be something required. No matter what type of library setting we pursue, we will face many of these ethical dilemmas. I contemplate taking the class now, because I wonder if it would help in my decision making processes. How will I respond to certain situations and continue with our ethical codes? Having a class to somewhat guide you might be helpful.

He also discusses different types of ethical theories in his article. This helps somewhat give an understand on what best way to handle the situation. For example, there is consequence-based theories. "In order to do the right thing, we should perform actions that have the good consequence" (Fallis, 2007, p.27). Yet again, here is my issue. I think giving the FBI for example the information they need the better choice, because in the end the library does not get into trouble nor do you. However, where does that leave the patron. What if this patron had a homework assignment to do that discusses different terrorist groups. It is such a pickle that I just cant find the right answer!!

Id be curious to know what other people feel about this scenario!

Fallis, D. (2007) Information ethics for the twenty-first century library professionals. Library Hi Tech, 25(1), 23-36

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