Articulate the ethics, values and foundational principles of library and information professionals and their role in the promotion of intellectual freedom

Competency A

Librarians and information professionals are more than just professionals who provide information to those they serve. Librarians have long been involved in the promotion and protection of intellectual freedom and the prevention of censorship, and as such they are advocates for the rights of its users to access information as well. Intellectual freedom is “based on the fundamental belief that the health of a society is maintained and improved when ideas can be created and disseminated without governmental, political or social impediment” (Rubin, p.147). An essential part of being an information professional involves the dissemination part of this statement.


Ethics
Part of the role of information professionals is to provide access to materials. But many every day decisions of information professionals affect issues of intellectual freedom, “such as selecting materials, not selecting or weeding materials, classifying materials, physically locating materials in the collection, establishing reference-service policies, or establishing administrative policies such as those requiring confidentiality” (Rubin, p.146). Because librarians and information professionals can have an important effect on what kind of information is available to the public by simply performing their professional duties, it is important that librarians consider the ethics of their decisions. Therefore, the American Library Association (ALA) has established a Code of Ethics to guide librarians in their decisions. Intellectual freedom is outlined specifically in Article II of the statement of ethics: “We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources” (American Library Association). Censorship is an important issue in libraries, and one that librarians must be constantly aware of when selecting materials. But they also must defend the library’s right to carry all types of information from all points of view.


Values & Foundational Principles
Values are defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as "[a] principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable" (American Heritage Dictionary). Libraries in the United States operate under a core set of values that guide the profession. Rubin's list of values include service, the importance of reading, the search for truth, tolerance, public good, and justice. The American Library Association establishes their core values through a series of policies, including one on intellectual freedom. Professionally, protecting intellectual freedom, the right to free speech, and the free dissemination of information.


The coursework below demonstrates an understanding of the importance of intellectual freedom and the role of information professionals in promoting it.


Evidence


Introduction of Judith Krug - LIBR 200 - Fall 2004
In this fictional introduction of Judith Krug, founder of Banned Books Week, I speak about the importance of Judtith's work as a defender of intellectual freedom. It outlines the importance of intellectual freedom in librarianship, citing her efforts to ensure that in the effort to protect one part of the population, the rights of another part are not infringed upon. This essay outlines the role of an important figure in the fight for intellectual freedom in libraries.


The Effects of the USA PATRIOT Act on Library Management - LIBR 204 - Spring 2005
This essay written for LIBR 204 is a discussion of the USA Patriot Act and its effect on libraries and the actions they can take to ensure they are protecting patron privacy. It discusses the USA Patriot Act and balancing the need to protect patron privacy and their intellectual freedom to read whatever materials they want, with the new laws in the post-911 environment.


References


American Library Association. (2007). Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Retrieved October 3, 2007, from http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/codeofethics/codeethics.htm


Rubin, R. (2000). Foundations of library and information science. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.
values. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved October 05, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/values

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© 2017 Deirdre Stretton