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Ethics: They’re Good

Tomorrow morning I’m giving a talk about ethics and blogging at Internet Librarian. I didn’t go much farther past the article I wrote last spring for Library Journal, but I do include some (hopefully) amusing examples of ethical breaches, none from within the biblioblogosphere, and only one from LibraryLand. Feel free to judge for yourself. (Powerpoint chosen as the prudent no-tech backup for what is really a hand-waving talk with funny pictures.)

In fact, define: ethics, as I ultimately called it, is the kind of presentation where the points are generally well understood by the vast majority of the attendees, with only a small amount of clarification needed on some points. The presentation could just as easily have been called Practical Tips for Doing What You Already Know to be Right, or Articulating the Obvious, or You Know the Drill, Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge.

That in itself is interesting and satisfying. I could list the shortcomings of modern librarianship ad infinitum, ad nauseum; we’re slow to change, we’re too rules-oriented, we–and I do not exclude myself–can be such pathetic dweebs. But there is an inherent altruism and ethical foundation in a profession that at its best is focused on the needs of who it serves. A profession where the first law is “Books are for use”–an outwardly focused, user-based emphasis. A profession that finds it reasonable, even necessary, even deeply satisfying, to go to bat for the powerless and the poor and the trampled-on and the silenced.

So I’m going to give my dog and pony show knowing that I’m not sharing anything new. I’m just enjoying where I am, that in this world that can be all about the spin and the money and what’s-in-it-for-me, I work in a profession that time and time again shows its belief in the individual and society, and in something as quaint as a higher good.

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