Readings-Ethics

The readings for this week are the ALA Code of Ethics, an article by Mosley and then three posts from the discussion about HarperCollins and the Overdrive issue of how many times can e-books be taken out.

One thing that I always think about in terms of the ALA code of ethics is how key protecting user’s privacy is, because this is something those outside the library world don’t completely understand. The idea that when you take a book out, we won’t keep a record of what you’ve read once you’ve returned it. There will be a mark that it has gone out but that’s all. I think it this idea highlights just how important it is to make the library a safe space for everyone, where the librarian will not judge what you read or what you ask. Its difficult to make it completely true in the real world, because we each carry with us so many prejudices and biases but as librarians we do what we can to overcome them. I appreciate too that the idea of constantly striving and learning is a key part of this code since it seems like something all future librarians share is this desire to learn as much as possible and share that knowledge. Whether its helping someone to find the right resource for a paper or figure out how best to share something amazing in an archive, its all about sharing knowledge.

The Mosley article focuses on creating a library assignment workshop for university faculty. This topic feels quite familiar to me in my work as a reference librarian on campus, sometimes an email will come to all of us reference librarians as a heads up about an assignment that requires our help. Its rare that this emails are sent before the assignments going, usually they appear after a few people have asked and we have to find out the requirements. The description of how the workshop begins sounds very effective with those running it presenting humorous examples of library misconceptions, which is a good way to do it. That way if a faculty member sees themselves, they don’t feel ashamed but instead go, oh I’m not alone. Now I need to figure how do I fix what I was doing. Its so key to be aware of how librarians are perceived outside of our circle of the world especially on a university campus where we’re just one of many resources available to researchers and not the one they might think to turn to first. I find the detailed explanation of the types of assignments and phrasing of assignments incredibly helpful, if I were a teacher, I’d want these lists close by to help me improve and think about what I’m telling students to do. The article seems to describe a successful workshop thought its interesting that faculty commented on how it would be useful for beginning teachers, I wonder if perhaps the librarians might have gone too far in suggesting how assignments might be flawed. Its a hard balance between not assuming too much of your audience and also not talking down to them, which seems to be one of the major challenges of teaching.

The next readings are three posts about the Harper Collins/Overdrive issue. The first thing I’m reading is The HarperCollins Open Letter to Librarians, which I found a very diplomatic piece of writing. Its clear that they are trying to not anger librarians and don’t see that 26 circulations is too few as they speak about how twenty-six circulations isn’t that few. I find it fascinating how they speak about consulting with everyone from librarians to publishers but I think I would have appreciated it more if they had included quotes and information about what helped. This feels far too much like a blanket statement that’s not really explaining but instead saying, we did our research, get off our backs, it won’t be that bad.

I next read the Library Journal article Library Consortia Begins to Vote Against HarperCollins EBook Checkout Policy as I wanted to read another official take on the issue. The focus in this article is about the consortiums that are choosing to not purchase more for HarperCollins and I find it interesting how they focus on money. The idea that HarperCollins is working with a profit motive as libraries need to stretch every dollar. I find the quote about lack of transparency quite relevant since it seems like HarperCollins felt like they did their research but they haven’t shared it. I’ve noticed that in discussions of ebooks, there are many sides of the picture and since things are constantly evolving, there really aren’t any rules set. So publishers and libraries are trying to make choices that work for them, but these discussions are happening in various corners with overlap when everyone disagrees. I look forward to seeing what happens next because ebooks aren’t easy to predict.

For the third piece I read Book Pixie and I found her blog post incredibly helpful as she draws together the Ebook User’s Bill of Rights and her own thoughts on what is important for readers. I appreciate her wariness in terms of the boycott because boycotts are a major step and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Also they have a way of closing off the dialogue which in this case needs to be open so there can be change. The idea especially that the boycott will limit patron’s access, which is never the right choice for any library.

This to me encapsulates this issue, which is about who gets to decide access to ebooks. As librarians our job is to promote access in as many ways and formats as possible so I hope that a middle ground can be found between HarperCollins’ 26 circulations and a complete boycott of them.

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1 Comment

Filed under professional practice reflection

One response to “Readings-Ethics

  1. Heidi B

    Prior to looking at the code of ethics, I’d never really thought about the issue of user privacy at the library and why this might be a huge concern. There’s a big difference between a middle school student checking out a book on dinosaurs for a report and a middle-aged person checking out a book on cancer treatments. Privacy is an important concern and it’s good to see libraries putting it at the forefront of their professional practice.

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