Everyday Ethics For Libraries

Everyday Ethics (banner art)

The Everyday Ethics For Libraries are a series of programs that explore how library professional ethics as presented in the Library Bill of Rights, along with intellectual freedom concerns and privacy, impact library operations, collection development, policies, planning, and customer service.

Everyday Ethics For Libraries: An Overview By Pat Wagner 

Everyday Ethics: Part 1Overview To Ethics For Libraries

Everyday Ethics: Part 2Transparency (Library Ethical Standards)

Everyday Ethics: Part 3Equal Treatment (Library Ethical Standards)

Everyday Ethics: Part 4Privacy (Library Ethical Standards)

Everyday Ethics: Part 5Information Access For All (Library Ethical Standards)

Everyday Ethics: Part 6 – Summary (Library Ethical Standards)

Resources for the Study and Practice of Ethics




Ethics for librarians and other public sector agency professionals, including appointed and elected officials, are among the popular webinars and face-to-face programs we offer. We warn our clients that ethics teaches the importance of asking questions but does not supply easy answers.

These websites host information about codes of conduct and guidelines for librarians, government officials, and politicians, as well as community and political activists, degreed professionals, reporters and researchers, and interested employees and citizens.

Library Ethics: 

  • Everyday Ethics for Libraries video series by Pat Wagner
  • Resources on intellectual freedom from the American Library Association
  • American Association of Law Libraries Ethical Principles
  • Banned Book recommendations from the Highline Community College Library
  • Valdosta State University resources for library ethics
  • International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ Professional Code of Ethics for Librarians (of particular interest here is the information regarding indigenous peoples, including a link to the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials)
  • Medical Library Association Code of Ethics for Health Sciences Librarianship
  • School of Library & Information Science links to professional associations 
  • ALA’s Association of College and Research Libraries’ Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians
  • SLA Professional Ethics Guidelines

General Ethics:

Photo Credit: http://pixabay.com


Hard Choices: Thriving During Change and Catastrophe

thumSP114oct12A Conversation on ‘Hard Choices: Thriving During Change and Catastrophe’, with Pat Wagner

‘Hard Choices: Thriving During Change and Catastrophe’ provides a formula for staying above water as the oceans swell.

What stops us from making the hard choices?
We don’t want to give anything up. It feels like a loss, like a failure. We can be like hoarders: We identify our stuff with ourselves. Whether it’s an underperforming division of a company, or retail goods that aren’t selling, letting go of what isn’t working feels like we are losing a piece of ourselves.

Sometimes we have to kill our babies. My husband started the Office for Open Network in the 1970s. When I joined him, I began working on the monthly newsletter. It was beautiful, well produced, and took two weeks of my time every month to create. I poured my heart into it. One day my husband asked “If you stopped creating the newsletter today, would anyone notice?” I was devastated. I resisted, but several months later, after he had patiently asked again, I relented and gave the newsletter up. Out of our 800 subscribers, three noticed. So I gave it up. Now I had two extra weeks a month to reach out to clients, set up visits and appointments, and our income doubled.

Why don’t people plan for hard times? Is there a superstitious element?
Yes. But talking about worst case scenarios won’t make them happen. I was raised by Eastern European immigrants; if they weren’t facing the Russian winter or the Czar’s armies, it was advancing Nazis. There is always the possibility that something horrible lies over the next hill. Planning for failure is not the same as planning to fail. I’ve planned so that I know that if my business fails, we will still be OK. In the worst case we sell what we own, buy a small condo in a town with a low cost of living, and I can work retail while Leif programs computers.

Often, when hard times hit, people panic. They slash and burn staff and programs, and think they are being ‘business-like.’ Learn to be ready for crises with ‘Hard Choices: Thriving During Change and Catastrophe.’

Tip: Write down everything you count on: You count on your partner, your job, you count on a good economy, etc. Now, write down what you would do if you could no longer count on those things or people. You have to have a firm idea of what you rely on to be prepared to cope when those things go away.


An interesting WikiHow article on planning for success

For students, York College offers a Personal Strategic Plan

Some tips on disaster planning from the NFIB

Do You Have What it Takes to Be Self-Employed?

Photo Credit: Dover Publications, Inc. 2008.‘Do You Have What It Takes to Be Self-Employed?’ provides an antidote to the prevailing attitude of ‘be your own boss, set your own hours, work in your pajamas and sit back as clients rush to your doorstep.’

How long have you been self-employed?
Since 1976. I’ve had two ‘regular’ jobs. One lasted eight months, the other a year and a half. Leif has not had a straight job since 1963. His ‘real’ employment lasted four months.

What are some of the major misconceptions about self-employment?
That you are your own boss. I have customers. I have vendors. I have competitors. I have the world, the economy, the IRS, and the State of Colorado. I have a whole bunch of people telling me what to do, and who I have to deal with all the time. I am my own boss in that I choose how to respond. Don’t imagine that being self-employed means you do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it.

Say I’m self-employed. Do I have to do everything on my own?
Oh, god no. But we all do it at first, especially starting out – it kind of goes with the hands-on mentality of being self-employed. At first, I did everything, from our taxes, to our marketing, to graphic design. But what I’ve discovered is that if you don’t delegate, or hire tasks out to other skilled professionals, it is difficult to grow your business beyond your fingertips. We have limited time, and it is more productive to focus on those things you do well (what your customers are paying you for). Particularly important is your ‘professional network,’ including your lawyer, accountant, and insurance agent.

What fields are best suited to self-employment?
A simple fact of business is that you need to sell something for more than it cost to produce, and at a profit that makes it worth your time. There has to be a significant margin – you won’t be able to support yourself making and selling something that can be found for less at Target. It’s less about which specific field is good for self-employment and more about the margins; as a one-person operation, even with a strong network, you have less access to economies of scale.

Enthusiasm, persistence, and talent are not enough. Learn to avoid common mistakes with ‘Do You Have What it Takes to be Self-Employed?’

Tip: Engage with your local chamber of commerce. If you are starting out with limited resources, they can provide a wealth of information as well as access to other professionals.


Great all-ages information from the AARP on self-employment

An array of resources at USA.gov 

And be sure to avoid work-at-home scams

Writing Skills for Workplace Success

Photo Credit: http://mrg.bz/b1OTvLA conversation with Pat Wagner on ‘Writing Skills for Workplace Success,’ a hands-on program in which participants learn effective writing skills and put them into practice.

Can adults learn to write?
Yes. It can be developed through practice like any other skill. The problem is that adults with little writing experience come in with psychological barriers. Some have been called stupid by a parent or teacher, or their writing has been criticized in such a way as to scare them away from the whole process. Also, many people have an inflated view of what it means to be a writer. They assume that in order to write at all you have to be the best. It’s just not true. I made part of my living for 25 years as a professional writer. I wasn’t the best, but I was reliable, accurate, worked well with my editor, and I understood my audiences.

Can you be influential in your workplace without good writing?
It’s much harder. For better or worse, the people above you on the food chain are always looking at you, always judging, watching for talent and skills. The management in any company wants their employees to be able to express themselves well, and writing is a big part of that. In large, formal organizations employees are expected to communicate through memos, essays, reports, etc., and in these instances both good and poor writing stand out.

How can writing well advance your career?
I have competed with people for various gigs who were more qualified and experienced than me; I got the work because I was a better writer. Good writing will benefit people even if they aren’t on a career track. For example, a fry cook at a fast food restaurant might have a great idea. His supervisor says “I love it, write up a memo, and we’ll send it up the chain.” Being able to write well is key in such situations.

Gain confidence in your writing with Writing Skills for Workplace Success.

Quick tip: Practice, practice, practice.


Writers of all skill levels can benefit from the wealth of information at Purdue’s Online Writing Lab

Great grammar tips by Grammar Girl

The always useful Chicago Manual of Style

Answering Legal Reference Questions on a Shoestring

ARSL-for-web-600pxThe Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) is one of my favorite library organizations. I have had the privilege of presenting at the national conference and working with their leaders over the years. Join us for Answering Legal Reference Questions on a Shoestring, a webinar with Paul Healey, Senior Instructional Services Librarian at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

When: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 (75 minutes)

Start times by time zone: 11:30 am (Pacific), 12:30 pm (Mountain), 1:30 pm (Central), 2:30 pm (Eastern)

Cost: $10.00

Sponsored by the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) and produced by Siera: Learn. Teach. Inspire.

Click here to register and pay.

If you have problems with the link above, please cut and paste it into your browser: https://www.amrms.com/ssl/arsl/membership/Conference/Events.aspx?ConfId=8dc31254-6d49-4156-8da0-9a16a83c305f

  1. Click on the radio button that says Webinar Registration.
  2. Click on the button that says Next on the righthand side of the browser window. (Sometimes it likes to hide, so make sure your browser window is opened wide.) This will take you to the registration page.
  3. Click on Webinar – Answering Legal Reference Questions on a Shoestring, and then click on Next.

After you pay, you will be directed to go to the GoToWebinar link, where you will register for the webinar itself. You will not need a microphone to participate, but speakers or headphones will improve the sound quality.


Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland 1948. No known copyright restrictions. http://www.flickr.com/photos/statelibraryqueensland/8808717962Webinar Description

Do your library’s customers want help with legal issues?

Reference questions seeking legal information are fairly common, but most libraries do not have the materials, or the expertise, to answer such questions. This webinar will explain the ins and outs of answering such questions, including potential legal issues when providing help. We also will look briefly at the array of legal materials and resources available for free on the Internet.

Although this webinar focuses on the needs of smaller and rural libraries, the information will prove useful to any type or size institution.

Presenter Bio

Photo of Paul Healey (ARSL presenter)Paul Healey serves as Senior Instructional Services Librarian at the Jenner Law library of the University of Illinois College of Law. He teaches Legal Research and Advanced Legal Research courses in the law school, and also teaches courses on legal materials, information ethics, and library administration at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. He holds a JD in law and MA in library and information science from the University of Iowa, and a PhD in library and information science from the University of Illinois.

Paul is considered a national expert on librarian professional liability and on legal issues pertaining to pro se library users. More information about Paul here.

Contact info

For more information about ARSL, contact Becky Heil at becky.heil@lib.state.ia.us. For help with GoToWebinar contact Pat Wagner at pat@patternresearch.com.