Monday, March 20, 2006

Intellectual Freedom and Libraries

Epathfinder: Intellectual Freedom and Libraries

Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.
Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system. We expect our people to be self-governors. But to do so responsibly, our citizenry must be well-informed. Libraries provide the ideas and information, in a variety of formats, to allow people to inform themselves.
Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.
-ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom

Scope: This pathfinder is a guide for library users and employees who are concerned with the right to intellectual freedom within public and academic libraries, and the constraints placed upon that right.

Electronic Sources-

http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/Default622.htm
American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom
http://www.eff.org/
Electronic Frontier Foundation.
http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/usapatriot/default.html
Electronic Privacy Information Center’s USAPatriot Act site. Includes news, history, and analysis of USAPatriot Act. Includes full text of the act.
http://www.freedomforum.org/
The Freedom Forum. A nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech, and free spirit for all people.
http://www.ifla.org/faife/ifstat/ifstat.htmInternational Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Intellectual freedom statements from IFLA and library associations of nine nations.
http://www.librarylaw.com/Intellectual.html
Compilation of court cases, legislation, and articles dealing with intellectual freedom and libraries.
http://www.ncac.org/
National Coalition Against Censorship.

Print Sources-

IFLA World report: Libraries and Intellectual Freedom. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, 2001.

Intellectual Freedom Manual. Chicago: American Library Association, 2002.

Jones, Barbara M. Libraries, Access, and Intellectual Freedom: Developing Policies for Public and Academic Libraries. Chicago: ALA Publications, 1999.

Symons, Ann K. Speaking Out: Voices in Celebration of Intellectual Freedom. Chicago: American Library Association, 1999.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Information Professionals and Public Policy

"Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas."—Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A

The role of the professional.
My pathfinder topic is intellectual freedom in libraries. Library professionals play a vital and continuous role in ensuring intellectual freedom for users and employees alike. According to Elrod and Smith the five themes of information ethics are community, ownership, access, privacy, and security. These themes are also strongly associated with intellectual freedom. It is important that library professionals continually promote intellectual freedom by providing equal access to information to all members of the community, which includes any material the professional may be adamantly opposed to, or finds personally offensive. It is also part of the professional’s role to respect the privacy of users, which includes the material someone has checked out, or Internet sites they have accessed.
Professionals who seek to promote the issue on a larger scale can speak publicly to groups, or join organizations that seek to ensure local, state, and national legislation that promote intellectual freedom are upheld, or more importantly that they are not amended to discourage the rights of library users.
The role of associations.
The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (ALA OIF) is one such organization. http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/Default622.htm The library profession has a responsibility to promote intellectual freedom in society despite interference by government entities and legislation such as the USAPatriot Act. The best way for ALA OIF to influence public policy is to have strong lobbying efforts on a national level and a public presence in support of intellectual freedom. These efforts have received resistance and opposition from politicians and individuals who believe reduced freedom is worth potential increased national security. But associations such as ALA OIF must continue to educate the public and policymakers on the need for intellectual freedom in libraries.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Professional Codes: Traditions and Guidance for the Future

Select one of the popular codes in the information professions broadly speaking:

I selected the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics, which can be found online at http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/codeofethics/codeethics.htm
The ALA code reflects the ethical theory of deontology. According to Tavani’s text, Kant contends that a basis of deontology is that individuals regardless of wealth, intelligence, privilege, or circumstance have the same moral worth. This is reflected in the first and third statements of the ALA code.

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.

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.
It stresses equal service, access, intellectual freedom, and privacy for all library users.


This code addresses both members of the library profession and the public. Several statements apply directly to library employees and their conduct towards other employees, not allowing personal beliefs to interfere with professional duties, and continued training to enhance and improve professional skills.
It is a useful document to present to a national audience because it encourages a consistent ethical philosophy for all library professionals. It also addresses similar issues as the professional codes of other international library associations.
Though the eight statements do not directly discuss topics such as the Internet, ethnic diversity, or civil liberties, they address them generally. For example, by resisting efforts to censor library resources and protect user’s rights to privacy, the code essentially protects public Internet use. Also, providing equitable access and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests promotes ethnic diversity.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Draft of E Pathfinder: Intellectual Freedom in Libraries.

Scope: This pathfinder is a guide for library users and employees who are concerned with the right to intellectual freedom within public and academic libraries, and the constraints placed upon that right.
Electronic Sources-
http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/Default622.htm
American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom
http://www.eff.org/
Electronic Frontier Foundation.
http://www.ifla.org/faife/ifstat/ifstat.htm
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Intellectual freedom statements from IFLA and library associations of nine nations.
http://www.librarylaw.com/Intellectual.html
Compilation of court cases, legislation, and articles dealing with intellectual freedom and libraries.
http://www.ncac.org/
National Coalition Against Censorship.

Print Sources-
IFLA World report: Libraries and Intellectual Freedom. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, 2001.
Intellectual Freedom Manual. Chicago: American Library Association, 2002.
Jones, Barbara M. Libraries, Access, and Intellectual Freedom: Developing Policies for Public and Academic Libraries. Chicago: ALA Publications, 1999.
Symons, Ann K. Speaking Out: Voices in Celebration of Intellectual Freedom. Chicago: American Library Association, 1999.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Blog 3- Just Consequentialism and the Potter Box in Information Ethics

In Moor’s article, he talks about an approach to applied ethics that takes the best from the ethical traditions of utilitarianism and deontology to provide a foundation for decision-making. The model of the Potter Box contains a step for considering the ethical principles that are applicable to the specific issue. Practice your application of the Potter Box model and just consequentialism using one of the following situations:

- You work for a large corporation that is planning to cut back jobs in the department you supervise. What are the steps that you would take to decide how to preserve your department or how to deal with the cutback for yourself and your staff of ten people? How is the for-profit sector different from the non-profit sector or is it?

I chose this situation because it is so foreign to scenarios I have encountered in my professional life thus far, and wanted to determine if this tool would help me analyze the ethical dilemma in a different light.
Using the Potter Box and Moor’s principles of Just Consequentialism, I first define the situation. In this instance, knowing that job cuts in my department are inevitable, I must decide, in the most just way, which staff should be let go. To make a just decision I have to determine how certain cuts would help or harm the corporation, the department, the staff, and myself.
As the supervisor of the department, I analyze the conflicting values of rewarding the loyalty of longtime employees versus keeping only the most productive workers. Though there will be some crossover of productive employees with seniority, some staff will lose their jobs. For the preservation of my position and the department, it seems right to keep only the most productive employees that will contribute most to the profit of the corporation. What also have to be analyzed are the reasons the corporation is cutting jobs. It is likely to increase profits, which is the main objective of a for-profit company.
Though it is good for the corporation to cut back staff, it is not necessarily just to individual employees. If my goal is to continue as the department supervisor with the corporation, the principle of utility, the greatest good for the greatest number (within the corporation) outweighs the moral justification of rewarding staff loyalty to the company.
On the other hand, if I choose to be loyal to my staff and not make any cuts within the department, the corporation will likely do it for me, and include me in their downsizing.
Though both profit and non-profit organizations rely on productivity and results to accomplish their goals, they are vastly different in that the decisions of the for-profit sector are based exclusively on financial gains or losses. The morality of the profit sector does not depend on the happiness of individuals, unless it is helpful to the bottom line.

Blog 2- Artifacts and Politics. ICTs.

Winner presented an example of the ramifications of plutonium recycling in the ‘Do artifacts have politics’ article 20 years ago, but it bears a striking similarity to some current government anti-terrorist measures and how they impact privacy and intellectual freedom. In the article, Winner quoted Russell W. Ayers who stated, “With the passage of time and the increase in the quantity of plutonium in existence will come pressure to eliminate the traditional checks the courts and legislatures place on the activities of the executive and develop a powerful central authority to enforce strict safeguards.” The case of NSA using ICTs to monitor American citizens, and the executive branch’s decision to circumvent legal procedure to do so, illustrates a current parallel to the plutonium example. Though the artifacts change, the politics appear to stay the same.

The most recent ICT to have an impact on me, which I have only been using for about a month, is satellite radio. It has made my 40 minute (often longer) commute much more enjoyable. I can listen to almost any kind of music, news, talk, sports, local traffic and weather without commercial interruptions. And there always is something I want to listen to. I have family and friends who claim they will never pay for radio. It makes me think back to around 1980 when cable was first introduced to my area. I remember my father saying that he would never pay to watch tv. 25 years later I would venture to say he, and almost everybody I know, would be quite disappointed with the 4 channels of ‘free tv’ we had before cable. One aspect of satellite radio that interests me, is that it is not regulated by the FCC like free radio. Whether government will become more involved in the medium as it expands remains to be seen.
The ICTs from the last 10 to 15 years that have had the greatest impact on me are the Internet, email, and the cell phone. I no longer write checks to pay most of my bills, call hotels or airlines for reservations, or wait in line for hours for concert tickets. (Well, that was actually fun sometimes) Email has made the world more of a local community. I email my friend in Spain several times a week, whereas I used to write or talk with him only a few times a year before email. The cell phone is the ICT that has had the greatest impact on my life in recent years. It provides the ability for instant communication in almost anyplace, at anytime. And it is a tool that can be used in emergency situations.

My decision to enter the library profession was based partially on my lifelong enjoyment of public libraries as a customer and volunteer, and the services libraries provide. It was also based on timing and my ability to change professions at the time. My family and friends have always been supportive of the decisions I make, so that was a factor too. (Even though most of them refuse to pay for radio.)

Blog 1- Defining Information Ethics for Today

In doing the initial readings I have found the term information ethics encompasses a wide range of topics, and combines numerous academic disciplines which include library and information science, computer and Internet ethics (cyberethics), media/journalism, business, philosophy, law, computer science, and engineering.An issue illustrating information ethics which I have followed in recent years, partially because it pertains directly to my profession, is that of the USA Patriot Act and how it affects public libraries and their patrons. Two of the core values of the library system I work for are the belief in intellectual freedom and respect of privacy and confidentiality. These values are threatened when private patron records can be accessed and computer activity monitored. The ALA believes this is such an important ethical issue that their public information office has provided a site that defines the USA Patriot Act, how it affects public libraries and intellectual freedom, and provides guidance to libraries regarding privacy.http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/mediarelations/patriotactmedia.htmThe current national controversy of the NSA's warrantless wiretapping of American citizens and approval of those acts by the administration, illustrate several aspects of information ethics. Cyberethics issues such as the use of communication and information technologies used to conduct the surveillance, as well as legal and philisophical issues such as approval of the operation despite the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance act of 1978, are all aspects of the controversy.In the Ethics and Technology text, Tavani poses the question 'Are cyberethics issues unique?' In the example of NSA surveillance, the cyberethics issues do not appear to be unique to me. Though the technology made the monitoring possible, the ethical question of the right to privacy does not seem to be unique. I have not read chapter 3 on tools for evaluating cyberethics issues yet, and perhaps will change my opinion of the uniqueness of the issues after doing so.