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Journal Entry: Professional Ethics

Oct - 13 - 2006
Nicole C. Engard

[quick intro - this is for my Professional/Social Aspects of Information Services course - the bolded headings are provided for us and then we fill in the info below. I will post these for all to read after they are graded each week - because they're the kinds of things I would normally write here. This week I got a 3 out of 3 :) This is also the journal I mentioned was coming when I posted last week.]

What stood out for me:

Out of all of the readings, it was the article about the Johns Hopkins tragedy (Perkins, E. (2001). Johns Hopkins tragedy: Could librarians have prevented a death? Information Today, 18(8), 51, 54.) that had the biggest impact on me. I find it shocking that professionals – doctors – ignored a resource that was right at their fingertips – their librarians. I read another article about the same tragedy and found that the doctors used web search engines to try to find articles on the harms of the drug they were researching. Web search engines??!!

Some questions I have or connections I am making…

I work in a law library that offers continuing education courses. In our Intro to the Internet course, we ask if they trust what they find on the web – and 9 out of 10 students in every class say no. This is the kind of skepticism you would expect in all professionals who have to deal with life or death situations on a daily basis. If I were honest with myself, I’d have to admit that prior to working in a library I did not know that librarians were there to help me with research. I thought they were there to make sure the books stayed on the shelves in order and to point me in the right direction to find the resources I needed. The problem is that there isn’t enough education out there for people who don’t work in libraries or in companies with libraries. People are shocked when you tell them that you need a Masters degree to be a librarian. The question is, how do we make our skills known to the general public? How do we make it so that people know we are the experts at searching and researching? How do we make it so that libraries get more funding so that they aren’t shut down or ignored by doctors doing studies?

A conclusion I can make…

Quite simply, it should part of a librarian’s duties to help with public awareness. There should be a ninth item added to the ALA’s Code of Ethics. It should state that we, as librarians, will educate our community members about the benefits of libraries. We will make it clear to those around us just what librarians do – we research – and we do it better than anyone else. If people are not aware of what we’re trained to do then the same mistake will happen again – maybe not in the near future and maybe not in medicine, but it will happen.

Some possible applications to my life as an information professional…

In addition to my job in the library, I teach night school courses for community members. I always make a point to sing the praises of libraries and being a librarian. I don’t know if they understand the full extent of the job, but at least I’m out there trying. I think I’d like to find a way to go out into the community and explain exactly what librarians do. I think a session at the local high school or middle school would be a great benefit to getting people to use the library in the future.

One Response so far.

  1. Yvonne says:

    I really enjoy your blog. And I agree with your point about librarians taking the opportunity to educate people whenever and wherever they can.


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