Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Service - Our Most Important Value

I think that the value of service is important to the profession because it separates librarians from other information professionals.  Additionally, the requirement of service as an ethical obligation is a foundation for the other values and requirements under the Code (ALA, 2004, 2008). 

Without the value of service, I would submit that the profession would be very different.  In fact, a large number of librarians don’t deal directly with the public.  Areas such as technical services, archives, and collection development do not normally deal with patron on a daily basis.  However, “equitable” and “unbiased” service is important if the rest of the library is to function properly. 

So while the main value we cherish is intellectual freedom (Rubin, 2010, p. 427), I would argue that the one consistent value is “to place the needs of the client above all other concerns” (Rubin, p. 426). 

In fact, I would argue that the service element is so pervasive in all of the other provisions, that without the First Provision, they become weaker (ALA, 2008).  In short, I would argue that in interpreting the Code and the Library Bill of Rights, they should be interpreted in light of the value of service.  Should there be any close calls regarding what is or is not ethical (value driven) behavior, the question should be decided in favor of whichever choice grants better and equitable service. 


American Library Association. (1996). Library Bill of Rights, http://www.ala.org/advocacy/ intfreedom/librarybill, accessed on November 7, 2012. 

American Library Association. (2004). Core values of librarianship, http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/statementspols/corevaluesstatement/corevalues, accessed on November 17, 2012. 

American Library Association. (2008). Code of ethics of the American Library Association, http://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics, accessed on November 17, 2012. 

Rubin, R. E. (2010). Foundations of Library and Information Science (3rd ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman.

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