Thursday, October 03, 2013

Adopted Ethics?

One of the things I've wondered about as I do my Library training is the Code of Ethics for Librarians.

  1. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
  2. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
  3. We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
  4. We respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.
  5. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness, and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
  6. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
  7. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
  8. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

It's all fine, I suppose, but I don't like the idea that when I took this job, I was supposed to sign on to a certain code of ethics.  I just want to have my own ethics and have them apply across all areas of my life.  What do you think about that?  Do all jobs have this sort of thing?

I think the real problem I have with it all is this idea of censorship.  I've just about made the decision not to order the William Allen White Nominees for 6-8th grade.  We are a K-6 School, and I don't think it's a great use of our resources, and frankly, I don't like the content of most of the nominees.  I think it's fine if that's what they want to nominate, and the kids certainly have access to those books all over the place, but I don't feel good spending 10% of my budget every year on books that I can't in good conscience recommend to anyone.  

My principal will support me on this, but she did ask- "As a librarian though, are you concerned about the whole "banned books" thing? 

I don't think NOT purchasing something is on par with BANNING it.  

(But I suspect the ALA would say I'm not living up to this code of ethics I was supposed to adopt when I took this job.) 

What do you think?


Susan said...

I think it's a matter of logic vs. controversy. You have good reasons not to buy the books (you're K-6, they're the 6-8 level books, they can get them elsewhere, they're expensive, etc.) As long as you keep a good balance, and buy things that are well-written and relevant, I don't think you're guilty of censorship. When in doubt, support the curriculum, take requests from students, teachers and parents and keep logic in the loop.

Melanie said...

That is really interesting. I can't understand why we go to such great lengths to protect the crud of the world in the name of free speech, but at the cost of our childrens' innocence and an overall standard of decency.

Don't get me started on those WAW nominees!!! If the books had literary or moral merit, it would be one thing--but the majority of the 3-5 list I've read seems to be pushing a social agenda and introducing material that my grade schoolers don't need to be exposed to right now! I am scared to see what's in the 6-8 list!

To make it worse, our librarian does a huge incentive chart that hangs on the wall and kids mark off when they have read all 8 nominees and they earn the right for a movie party in the spring that goes from after school til midnight. (which we didn't even let our daughter go to last year, she subbed past WAW books for the ones we found inappropriate.) Anyway, it's one thing to have books in the library that kids might come across, but another to have this incentive for them to read cruddy books. You can tell this is one of my soapboxes. :)

I think you're fine not buying the 6-8 books for your library that only goes up to 6th gr. I wish our librarian exercised a little more judgement, but reading the librarian ethics, things start to make a little more sense. I find it somewhat odd you have to agree to that! I bet there are at least 8 copies of each WAW nominee in our library, I would be interested to know how much is spent on that each year!

I don't know how I feel about the whole 'banned book' thing--why don't we get to ban certain movies, etc. then, too? I just don't want my kids feeling pressured to read junk.

I am thankful that one of my like-minded friends is a library aide, so she kind of steers my kids toward better stuff or away from questionable ones. Very grateful for that! And would hope most parents in your school would also be thankful for a librarian who cares about what books are in the library!

Careful what you ask for on your might get a book-length response! :)

betsyann said...

Thanks to both of you! I've been de-emphasizing WAW and playing up the Bill Martin Jr. Award. I love all of those books, and I think it's good for big kids to read picture books too. I just wish kids books in general would care a bit more about keeping kids young, and less about being "current".