Discussion question

Discussion question


Discussion Question

In today’s world, the ethical dilemmas faced by information professionals in the workplace are numerous. The evolution of modern technology has changed the way in which people interact with information, interact with each other and their environment. Describe two ethical scenarios concerning the designing or implementation of digital services in an information institution (for example a library, or archive). Based on your descriptions, please analyze these two scenarios with careful consideration of the Code of Ethics (e.g., ALA Code of Ethics, SAA Code of Ethics)and provide possible solutions for these two scenarios. 

What is ethics?

  • What are the ethical concerns/issues within the library and information professions?
  • What are the principles that embody the ethical responsibilities of the profession?
  • What are the values that support ethical principles of professional conduct?
  • What is the code of ethics, code of conduct, and code of practice for information professionals?

Ethical problem area

Professor Notes
Ethics refers to a set of standards about one’s behavior, obligations, and beliefs regarding quality, fairness, and transparency.   Ethical values are determined by the notion of what is right and wrong what is wrong in the context of our actions and practices. Ethical values include Justice, honesty, empathy, compassion, respect, and responsibility. Code of ethics and code of conduct are two different things that sometimes might be confused. A Code of ethics is a set of principles designed to help information professionals carry out services and conduct business honestly, fairly, and with integrity.  On the other hand, a code of conduct refers to a set of roles created by the organization based on the organization’s mission, values, and principles. Examples of codes of conduct include the American Library Association (ALA ), Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST), and the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). ALA Code of Ethics
The ALA Code of Ethics states the values to which the organization members are committed. It embodies the ethical responsibilities of the information professionals (ALA  Equity, Diversity, and InclusionLinks to an external site.). As stated by ALA, the Code of Ethics principles are expressed in broad statements to guide ethical decision-making. The code states, “These statements provide a framework; they cannot and do not dictate conduct to cover particular situations” (ALA Professional EthicsLinks to an external site.) The statements are:

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 uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.

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.

We respect intellectual property rights and advocate a balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.

  • We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness, and good faith and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
  • 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.
  • We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession. ( )
  • ASIST Professional Guidelines
    ASIST code of conduct is expressed as a set of professional guidelines Links to an external site. that cover responsibilities to employers/client/system users, responsibilities to the profession, and responsibility to the association. Members “have obligations to employers, clients, and system users, to the profession, and to society, to use judgment and discretion in making choices, providing equitable service, and in defending the rights of open inquiry” ( For example, member responsibility to the profession is expressed in broad statements that “truthfully represent themselves and the information systems which they utilize or which they represent, by:
  • not knowingly making false statements or providing erroneous or misleading information
  • informing their employers, clients, or sponsors of any circumstances that create a conflict of interest

not using their position beyond their authorized limits or not using their credentials to misrepresent themselves

following and promoting standards of conduct in accord with the best current practices

undertaking their research conscientiously in gathering, tabulating, or interpreting data; following proper approval procedures for subjects; and producing or disseminating their research results

pursuing ongoing professional development and encouraging and assisting colleagues and others to do the same

adhering to principles of due process and equality of opportunity.

These are just two examples to give you an idea about the broader guidelines from different information professional associations. ALA represents libraries and the more traditional functions of the library profession, whereas ASIST represents the evolving information science profession that is significantly impacted by information and communication technologies (ICT). 



For each module, please choose four to five articles to read from the following list. Please note that a proxy link is provided for many of the references–do not include this proxy link in your citation. 

Ethics: Background 

Froehlich, T. (2004). A brief history of information ethicsLinks to an external site.. BiD: textos universitaris de biblioteconomia i documentació, 13.

Jones, D. A. (2014). Emphasis on ethical awareness: Why ethics? Why now?Links to an external site. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 102(4), 238-240.    

  1. Wilkinson, L. l. (2014).Principlism and the ethics of librarianship Links to an external site.. The Reference Librarian, 55(1), 1-25.
  2. Velasquez, M., Andre, C., Shanks, T., & Meyer, M. J. (2010, January 1). What is ethics? Links to an external site. Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
  3. Ethical Concerns in Professions
  4. Prindle, S., & Loos, A. (2017). Information ethics and academic libraries: Data privacy in the era of big data Links to an external site.. Journal of Information Ethics, 26(2), 22-33.
  5. Reinsfelder, T. L. (2014). E-books and ethical dilemmas for the academic reference librarian Links to an external site.. The Reference Librarian, 55(2), 151-162.
  6. Rubin, R., & Froehlich, T. J. (2017). Ethical aspects of library and information science. In J. D. McDonald& M. Levine-Clark (Eds.) Links to an external site., Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (4th ed., pp. 1743-1757). Taylor & Francis.
  7. Areas of Ethical Concerns
  8. Adams, H. R., & Harris, C. (2018). Net neutrality: Why it matters to school librarians Links to an external site.. Teacher Librarian, 45(4), 8-12.

Aulisio, G. J. (2013).Copyright in light of ethics Links to an external site.. Reference Services Review, 41(3), 566-575.

  1. Dignum, V. (2018). Ethics in artificial intelligence: Introduction to the special issue Links to an external site.. Ethics and Information Technology, 20(1), 1-3.

Houghton F. (2017). Ethics in academic publishing: A timely reminder Links to an external site.. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 105(3), 282–284.

Knox, E. J. M. (2017). Opposing censorship in difficult times Links to an external site.. The Library Quarterly, 87(3), 268-276. 

Kritikos, K. C. (2018). The right to forget, obliterate, erase: Defending personal data privacy in the digital age Links to an external site.. Journal of Information Ethics, 27(2), 47–65.

Light, B., & McGrath, K. (2010). Ethics and social networking sites: A disclosive analysis of Facebook Links to an external site.. Information Technology & People, 23(4), 290-311.

Mahieu, R., van Eck, N. J., van Putten, D., & van den Hoven, J. (2018). From dignity to security protocols: A scientometric analysis of digital ethics Links to an external site.. Ethics and Information Technology, 20(3), 175-187.

Royakkers, L., Timmer, J., Kool, L., & van Est, R. (2018). Societal and ethical issues of digitization. Links to an external site.Ethics and Information Technology, 20(2), 127-142.

Skala, M., Bonfield, B., & Torpey, M. F. (2008). Enforcing copyright Links to an external site.. Library Journal, 133(3), 28-30.

  1. Association for Computing Machinery Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct Links to an external site.