Tuesday, January 03, 2006

First Day

Welcome to the first day of Winter quarter! I'm taking two classes this quarter: Information in Social Context and Organization of Information and Resources. I haven't had the organization class yet, so not much to say there.

The first class will be quite interesting though. This covers intellectual freedom, intellectual property, privacy, confidentiality, information liability, censorship, book banning, free speech, surveillance & monitoring, fair use, copyright; little things like that. Yeah, it's going to be quite a class.

We started today by talking about the American Library Association's Code of Ethics. There are a lot of packed sentences in this code, for instance:
We significantly influence or control the selection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information.

We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.

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.
One thing we talked about: kids in libraries. Some parents look at every book with their kids and know what they're reading. Other parents drop their kids off and have no idea what they're looking at. Sometimes parents get upset about what their kids can find in a library. But are librarians supposed to be parents? Uh, no.

So we can't stop kids (or anyone) from looking at items in the library. But what do we stock in the library? Libraries I think pride themselves on being open to everything. You may not agree with it, but people will need the information and it's your job to provide it. So libraries have books on homosexuality, religion, how to make bombs, etc, etc. There will always be someone who has a problem with some topic in the library.

What about a library that decides not to stock those things they don't agree with? Hmm. I think that would be your own personal library, or perhaps a private corporate library. I think as long as libraries are supported by the public, they will represent the many varied interests of the public.

So as far as a public library goes, librarians aren't going to keep out items that may be deemed offensive by some. And they aren't going to protect anyone from seeing those items or stop people from checking things out. Obviously librarians aren't totally neutral on every subject, but it seems they try to be.

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