February 13, 2008

Bishop 13: Ethical issues and the collection

Posted in Bishop tagged , , , , at 9:07 am by maf

Here are my highlights and margin notes from reading this chapter.

In the introductory paragraphs, I highly agree with this statement:

“For some of the issues, there are definite legal and ethical guidelines, but in other instances there may be more than one acceptable opinion about an issue.”

This is another way of saying that things are gray and there may be no exact right or wrong answer.

Providing Access section:

  • Once again, this theme is one we will emphasize in Cataloging.
  • The section “Children’s Rights and Intellectual Freedom” is highly relevant to the Selection Policy-making process. She relates the First Amendment and clearly explains it, basing her discussion on authoritative analysis.
  • The Barriers section is eye-opening. Under Inequality of Access – if there are people out there that don’t believe in the simple fact that some schools are poorer than others, they should visit my daughter’s urban school, where there is still no paper and an utterly deaf child’s SST was finally processed last week (after a September referral).
  • On page 166, she explains more laws (acronyms again!) and their relationship to Internet filtering. She provides the essential elements of an AUP.
  • Copyright does not get much space here, which is understandable since you would need volumes to explain it. I hope you’ve picked up from me that I consider the area of copyright to be as ethically important as it is legally.

Selection Materials (168-172)

  • Kay does a good job here of explaining how selection can itself be a censoring process. This problem is why I expect to see proactive prevention of self-censorship in your final order.
  • On page 170 she says, “Knowing one’s self is a prerequisite for selection.” Aren’t you glad you already wrote your personal Intellectual Freedom Philosophy?
  • She ends the section on MSs and Personal Biases with this statement: “If you sense that your personal views may be outweighing your professional judgment, seek other people’s opinions.” I agree, except that I say: do it anyway. This is what your Media Committee is for.
  • Kay spends a lot of time on the principle of balance. This is warranted.


This chapter ends with a quick series of tasks and ethical issues in regards to those collection tasks. Some things to watch out for:

  • Accepting gifts or premiums from vendors to influence your decisions (There is a squiggly line here, to be sure!)
  • Being a responsible accountant
  • Sharing e-materials beyond the scope of a license
  • Taking good care of materials as an ethical responsibility (good stewardship)
  • Disposing of materials properly (I would add environmental stewardship to this point)
  • Confidentiality in circulation
  • What to do if you suspect a student is self-destructive or dangerous to others
  • Patriot Act
  • Restricting materials
  • Weeding of controversial materials (rather than just those that no longer meet selection criteria)
  • Obtaining funding: I had never thought of this as an ethical responsibility before.



The scenarios are excellent. If we had all the time in the world, we would discuss them one by one.

Finally, I hope you’ve noticed by now how wonderful the references and resources are at the end of each chapter. This is one great benefit of having a newly-published textbook.