International Federation of Library Associations Endorses Code of Ethics
This Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is offered as a series of ethical propositions for the guidance of individual librarians as well as other information workers, and for the consideration of Library and Information Associations when creating or revising their own codes.
The function of codes of ethics can be described as
encouraging reflection on principles on which librarians and other information workers can form policies and handle dilemmas
improving professional self-awareness
providing transparency to users and society in general.
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. Full compliance with this code is not expected.
This code is offered in the belief that:
Librarianship is, in its very essence, an ethical activity embodying a value-rich approach to professional work with information.
The need to share ideas and information has grown more important with the increasing complexity of society in recent centuries and this provides a rationale for libraries and the practice of librarianship.
The role of information institutions and professionals, including libraries and librarians, in modern society is to support the optimisation of the recording and representation of information and to provide access to it.
Information service in the interest of social, cultural and economic well-being is at the heart of librarianship and therefore librarians have social responsibility.
Furthermore, this belief in the human necessity of sharing information and ideas implies the recognition of information rights. The idea of human rights, particularly as expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), requires us all to recognise and acknowledge the humanity of others and to respect their rights. In particular, Article 19 sets out rights of freedom of opinion, expression and access to information for all human beings.
Article 19 expressly sets out a right to “Seek, receive and impart information and ideas in any media and regardless of frontiers” which provides a clear rationale for libraries and the practice of modern and progressive librarianship. IFLA in statements, manifestos and policy and technical documents too numerous to list has expanded the understanding of work with information. Implicit in this work is the idea of information rights and their significance for the profession and society generally. The emphasis on information rights in turn obliges librarians and other information workers to develop a principled critique of relevant law and to be prepared to advise and, if appropriate, advocate the improvement of both the substance and administration of laws.
The clauses of this code of ethics build on the core principles outlined in this preamble to provide a set of suggestions on the conduct of professionals. IFLA recognises that whilst these core principles should remain at the heart of any such code, the specifics of codes will necessarily vary according to the particular society, community of practice or virtual community.
Code making is an essential function of a professional association, just as ethical reflection is a necessity for all professionals. IFLA recommends the Code of Ethics for IFLA to all its member associations and institutions and to individual librarians and information workers for these purposes.
IFLA undertakes to revise this code whenever appropriate.
1. ACCESS TO INFORMATION
The core mission of librarians and other information workers is to ensure access to information for all for personal development, education, cultural enrichment, leisure, economic activity and informed participation in and enhancement of democracy.
Librarians and other information workers reject the denial and restriction of access to information and ideas most particularly through censorship whether by states, governments, or religious or civil society institutions.
Librarians and other information workers offering services to the public should make every endeavour to offer access to their collections and services free of cost to the user. If membership fees and administrative charges are inevitable, they should be kept as low as possible, and practical solutions found so that socially disadvantaged people are not excluded.
Librarians and other information workers promote and publicise their collection and services so that users and prospective users are aware of their existence and availability.
Librarians and other information workers use the most effective ways to make the material accessible to all. For this purpose they seek to ensure that the websites of libraries and other information institutions comply with international standards for accessibility and access to them is not subject to barriers.
2. RESPONSIBILITIES TOWARDS INDIVIDUALS AND SOCIETY
In order to promote inclusion and eradicate discrimination, librarians and other information workers ensure that the right of accessing information is not denied and that equitable services are provided for everyone whatever their age, citizenship, political belief, physical or mental ability, gender identity heritage, education, income, immigration and asylumseeking status, marital status, origin, race, religion or sexual orientation.
Librarians and other information workers respect language minorities of a country and their right to access information in their own language.
Librarians and other information workers organize and present content in a way that allows an autonomous user to find the information s/he needs. Librarians and other information workers help and support users in their information searching.
The Ethics of Librarianship. An International Survey. Ed. By Robert W. Vaagan with an introduction by Alex Byrne. München: Saur 2002 VI, 344 p.
Gebolys, Zdzislaw, Jacek Tomaszczyk: Library Codes of Ethics Worldwide. Anthology. Berlin: Simon 2012. 267 p.
Professional Codes of Ethics for Librarians. IFLA-Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Free Expression (FAIFE).
Sturges, Paul: Doing the Right Thing. Professional ethics for information workers in Britain. In: New Library World. 104, 2003, n. 1186, p. 94-102.
Prepared by Loida Garcia-Febo, Anne Hustad, Hermann Rösch, Paul Sturges and Amelie Vallotton (FAIFE working group)
Endorsed by the IFLA Governing Board, August 2012″