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New international code of ethics for librarians and information workers

 

Librarians and other information workers have access for the first time to an international code of ethics, adopted in August by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) following two years of work by a group including a representative of Globethics.net.

The Code of Ethics for Librarians and other Information Workers covers issues such as access to information; responsibilities to individuals and society; privacy, secrecy and transparency; open access and intellectual property; neutrality, personal integrity and professional skills; and the colleague and employer/employee relationship.

The code was adopted by the IFLA Governing Board during the World Library and Information Congress held in Helsinki, Finland, from 11 to 17 August.

Among the provisions of the code, librarians and other information workers should reject censorship in all its forms, support provision of services free of cost to the user, and promote inclusion and eradicate discrimination by ensuring that all people regardless of status have access to information.

The code was drafted in 2011 and 2012 by a working group of IFLA's Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE).

The working group was coordinated by Hermann Rösch, Professor of Library and Information Science, Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

Other members included Loida Garcia-Febo, Anne Hustad, Paul Sturges, and Globethics.net senior associate and former e-librarian Amelie Vallotton Preisig.

The committee consulted extensively on the code and received hundreds of comments from both IFLA members and non-members. In more than 60 countries library associations have developed and approved a national code of ethics for librarians.

Related professions like archivists and museum professionals already had international codes of ethics. For many years ICA (International Council of Archives) and ICOM (International Council of Museums) have developed, endorsed, and maintained their international codes of ethics for archives and museums respectively, but until now IFLA and librarians did not have a similar document.

The Code exists in two versions: a long, comprehensive version, and a shorter version for quick reference.
•    Code of Ethics (long version)
•    Code of Ethics (short version)

This code is not intended to replace existing codes or to remove the obligation on professional associations to develop their own codes through a process of research, consultation and cooperative drafting.

FAIFE has collected nearly 40 codes of ethics for librarians from around the world. They can be accessed here: "Professional Codes of Ethics for Librarians".