IST-511 Day Four: The perils of librarianship

Today began with a discussion of professional organizations, followed by a panel discussion on library space. This last item was of great interest to me, given that it is one of the issues that the two most important academic libraries in San Diego are focusing on at the moment. I was interested to hear the speakers’ thoughts not only on physical space, but also on the need to define a library’s virtual presence. Academic libraries are especially concerned with the non-physical aspects of space because they primarily serve a population that, because of age constraints, tends to expect information transactions to take place virtually.

In the afternoon, we discussed the ethics of the profession. The lecture touched on the many gray areas that a librarian can run into by just doing his or her job, situations where the librarian code of ethics can clash with other standards: personal, social, corporate, religious, political. I learned much about the importance of policies, As much as I dislike bureaucracy, I see the importance of having a clearly written, widely communicated set of policies, so that when one of these nebulous situations happens, a librarian has something concrete to fall back on to justify the decision made. Like many people, I tend to see bureacracy as something an organization’s staff hides behind in order to avoid difficult decisions, but after that lecture I have an increased appreciation for the value of being able to back your actions with something more substantial than “because I think it is the right thing to do.”

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