Practice in Context – Week 28
In the library and information profession, practice is guided by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) code of ethics. These global guidelines are designed to encourage reflection on principles when forming policies, improving professional awareness and providing transparency for users of information, and society in general. (IFLA, 2016).
As a member of the professional registration scheme, administered by the Library and Information Association New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), I am assessed every three years against six Body of Knowledge (BOK) clusters, where I am required to reflect on a range of activities within one of four domains: practice, knowledge, communication or leadership.
BOK 1, The Information Environment, Information Policy & Ethics, include the changing nature of the information sector, relevant ethical issues, the purpose of professional codes of practice and the significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. (LIANZA)
At the beginning of this school year, 60 new laptops were added to the library resources. This has delayed the digital literacy aspect of my action plan but highlighted the librarian leadership part of my inquiry. New policies and procedures are required for teachers booking and using the new devices. To track usage and mitigate damage, I recommended to the Associate Rector that devices be managed through Accessit, our library management system (LMS) as it allows for them to be issued to individual students and statistical usage data to be reported on.
While trialing this new system with a small Year 13 class this week, I encountered an unexpected ethical issue. Part of the new process allows teachers to issue devices to their classes. However, I hadn’t fully considered how this system would now allow teachers access to confidential student information related to their borrowing history. This became uncomfortably clear when the teacher publicly commented to a student about a lost book on his record.
My actions in response to this incident can also be linked with the registered teachers’ code of ethics.
protect the confidentiality of information about learners
respect confidential information
treat colleagues and associates with respect
Herd, in his 2008 article, Is there a place for ethics in the library?, discusses moral and ethical dimensions of leadership in a school library, where some ethical dilemmas aren’t solely a choice between right and wrong, but between two rights, and where professional judgment and a sense of teamwork is preferred to hard and fast rules. McCrimmon (2007), as cited in Herd, suggests effective leaders employ ethical thinking, working within laws and policies while developing a trusting working relationship with the whole school community. In this instance, I need to adhere to ethical rules, while considering how to implement them so as not to damage any teacher librarian relationships.
I am confident I will reach an ethical compromise that allows the necessary flexibility for teaching staff while preserving student confidentiality.
This reflection does not directly illustrate my inquiry into digital literacy, but it does highlight the need for librarian leadership to be very clear about moral imperatives when making decisions about access to information in digital media and will inform my thinking in the future about leading in this area.
Interesting to note, National Library, Services to Schools use the spiral of inquiry model in their capability-building projects. One of the project options is digital literacy and includes improper use of social media within the context of school and cyberbullying as well as plagiarism and intellectual-property violation. This sits within the scope of my current inquiry and is something I will continue to investigate, even as this assignment concludes.
Ehrich, L. C., Kimber M., Millwater, J. & Cranston, N. (2011). Ethical dilemmas: a model to understand teacher practice, Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 17:2, 173-185, DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2011.539794
Herd, J. (2008). Is there a place for ethics in the library? ACCESS, 22(4). p5-8. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access/access-commentaries/ethics.aspx
Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa. (n.d.) BOK cluster 1: Understanding the information environment. Retrieved from https://lianza.org.nz/bok-1-information-environment-information-policy-ethics
Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand. (n.d.) Code of ethics for registered teachers. Retrieved from https://www.educationcouncil.org.nz/required/ethics/coe-poster-english.pdf
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. (2016). IFLA code of ethics for librarians and other information workers. Retrieved from https://www.ifla.org/publications/ifla-code-of-ethics-for-librarians-and-other-information-workers–short-version-?og=30
The National Library Services to Schools. (n.d.) Capability building projects to improve student learning. Retrieved from https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/professional-learning/capability-building-projects-to-improve-student-learning