Librarian Bill of Rights and Ethical Librarians
There are many reason’s why the ALA Code of Ethics can’t be enforced on librarians, ALA members or the local level. We, the Committee on Professional Ethics, recently studied this issue for about 3 years. The study included open forums for input on the code, how to change it and how to enforce it. We also looked at what is done in other organizations. The only organizations that can enforce a code of ethics are licensing agencies. ALA is not one of these.
Maybe it just begins with a small compromise of ethics:
- Did the trustee lose a book? Don’t charge them for it. They are more important than the other patrons.
- Do you want a good evaluation? Then hire the trustee’s cousin over a more qualified applicant.
- Trustee wants you to give no-bid work to one of their friends or relatives – go along with it.
- Trustee doesn’t want you to provide access to public records about the no-bid work? Lose the info.
- Meeting minutes? What meeting minutes?
In Rhode Island – along with many other locations, the slope is just about as slick as it can get. The political pressure to do the wrong thing can be enormous. The way that another important group of professionals charged with providing equal protection under the law dealt with the ethical dilemma was the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. The Fraternal Order of Police helped to promote the Bill of Rights to protect their members from political reprisal for doing their jobs. Many other states have adopted similar laws.
- Uphold U.S. Constitution/Federal/State laws
- Support the First Amendment
- Support FOIA and Open Meetings/Access to Public Records statutes
- Conduct library activities using standard principles of accounting
- Report to appropriate entity – elected officials – without fear of reprisal – except for malicious intent – any misfeasance/violation of law – by Board of Trustees or individual trustee
- Unless declined – right to have evaluations discussed in public
- Right to review credentials of Board of Trustee applicants – if Trustees are required to *have* credentials – prior to appointment
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Filed under: Administration, Employment, Ethics, Finance, Government policy, History of Libraries, Intellectual freedom, Library Organization, Library Profession, Personnel, Public relations, Trustees | Tagged: ALA, Librarian Bill of Rights |