Since we didn’t have official readings for this next session of class, I figured that it might be helpful to do a little setting the stage for my group’s upcoming workshop.
Last week was chock-full of thinking about ethical considerations in libraries and as librarians. There’s no question that the role of libraries within their respective communities are shifting. While a library certainly can’t (and probably shouldn’t try to) be everything to everyone, libraries do have a long history of providing the public (or a particular population) access to resources that would be unavailable to most people on an individual basis.
A public library may be able to provide access to a database of articles and stats that wouldn’t be affordable to most people. Their offerings of books, movies, games and other media will vastly outnumber the personal collections more folks will have. Libraries can provide access to technical equipment and specialized skills and training. Another specific example — this last week in Austin, I noticed a library had a specific free workshop to help family members learn how to navigate systems for elder-care and other resources to help care for relatives who needed an extra hand. On a physical level, libraries can provide meeting space for community groups. Though there are many definition of infrastructure, in some ways it could be said that libraries provide resources and infrastructure that can be used/shared my many folks.
So, if we extend the idea of resources, support and shared infrastructure, who’s to say that providing digital recording and editing suites, a 3D printer/maker-bot, collaborative spaces, and platforms for community publishing wouldn’t fall within those general ideas of what a library “should/could” provide too?
There’s some great conversation going on around this topic — so much that I will probably be linking to/talking about these ideas in future posts. However, for now, I want to bring things back to the idea of library ethics.
Last week, we read the ALA Code of Ethics. Although many of the ideas and themes in the code remain the same, how might the code shift as what libraries do and are shift? As libraries move beyond points of access to resources, and become a part of the creation of resources & media, what additional questions or conflicts might arise? There’s a lot of room for thought here, and our team’s in-class workshop intended to delve a bit into this territory and begin sussing out just how and why (or why not) the ALA Code of Ethics (and/or our own interpretation of it) might need to change.