Southern Connecticut State University
1. In your public library, new print titles—both fiction and non-fiction—are read first by any professional staff member wishing to do so, after which the title is put into circulation or on reserve. Staff can only check such titles out for one week and there are no renewals.
Do you see any ethical problems with this system? If so, explain. If not, explain.
To promote an in-house Reader Advisory service, it is reasonable to consider a procedure in which staff may read a title prior to distribution to the public as patrons. The distinction that staff can only have the book for one week and may not renew will put the title into circulation quickly for patron use. However, American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom CommitteeŐs guidelines advise that public libraries should keep in mind the First Amendment when developing and implementing policies. A public library should only restrict access when the restriction furthers the libraryŐs mission and not in an arbitrary manner (ALA.org, 2009). More importantly, this procedure conflicts with the American Library AssociationŐs Code of EthicsŐ Articles I and VI which state librarians are to adhere to providing equitable and unbiased service and access and do not advance private agendas at the expense of our patrons (Code of Ethics, 2008).
In this case, there is no operational reason for this procedure. Although staff may be aware of titles being ordered, they should not receive preferential treatment for new titles and Ňjump the lineÓ in front of patrons. Requests are placed in chronological order in the queue, regardless of the number of books ordered per title, and everyone has an equal chance to read the title in order. Staff may be in first, tenth or twenty-fifth position depending on when they placed their request. (Back to the top)
2. In your small academic library, the materials budget is tight. Journals consume a considerable portion of that budget. Some members of the Friends of the Library group have come up with a suggestion to help out. The members of the Friends belong to professional societies (engineering, forensic, history, English, etc.) some of whose journals are part of the libraryŐs collection. The professional society members get their journals as part of their membership—and they can choose, in most cases, whether they obtain print or electronic versions.
In some cases the library has joined the same societies but at a much higher cost than individuals. The FriendsŐ members suggest to you that they donate their copies to the library, allowing the library to cancel its subscriptions, for considerable savings.
In fact, what the Friends would do is to form teams so that a print version and an electronic version of each journal are made available to the library as donations.
Ethical issues? If so, explain. If you see none, explain.
In an effort to support the institutionŐs responsibility to provide up-to-date, original, materials to all users, the Friends want to continue the academic libraryŐs success while saving money. Although this agreement would enable the library to acquire cost effective resources, the Association of College and Research Libraries and The Society of American Archivists Joint Statement on Access to Research Materials in Archives and Special Collections LibrariesŐ Article 1 is clear that the institution is responsible to provide the materials and free access to all authorized users unless the donor or license stipulates (Joint Statement, 2009). The proposed arrangement could enable the Friends to limit access to their donated material. In addition, there is a question as to the timeliness of the donation. If one installment is missing, the donor may be willing, but may not have the leverage of an institution, to recover the missing item. Thus the library is at risk for not providing complete and timely information to their users. Also, donations require a library to provide an IRS Tax receipt and thereby exposing the relationship and possibly affecting the institutionŐs standing. Moreover, the library is dependent upon the financial liquidity of the Friends. The Friends may determine at some point in the future that as a group, or individually, they can no longer continue the arrangement or a donor dies. At which point the library will request and possibly not receive subscription funds from the institution as they were operating at a reduced budget and the institution may be reluctant or not have the funds to accommodate the request.
Typically individual e-subscriptions are strict in regards to copyright laws. The First-sale Doctrine, Title 17 U.S.C. section 109, allows the Friend to lend, sell, or give away their purchased copyrighted work without the vendorŐs permission. However, the End User License Agreement typically states that the end-user (purchaser/Friend) can only make copies for use, backup, maintenance, as long as the copy is destroyed once repairs are complete and the copies can not be transferred without permission from the copyright holder. The library pays higher subscription fees for print and electronic resources to compensate the vendor for multiple authorized users accessing the information according to Fair Use Doctrine, Section 107 of The Copyright Act of 1976 (Fair Use, 2009).
Database providers and authors have legitimate concerns about copyright infringement and access to their intellectual property. ALAŐs Code of Ethics, Article IV states that librarians are respectful of intellectual property rights and supports efforts to balance the vendors concerns about copyright infringement, Fair Use, and enforcing existing laws (Anti-Piracy Legislation, 2009). ALA backs many bills that will negotiate the intellectual propriety rights of licensors and authors while allowing libraries to continue their service to their patrons. One proposal in particular, draft bill HR 3261: The Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act, would make it illegal to use information from someone else's database without prior approval (Foster, 2003). Additionally libraries are trying to amend the proposed Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) whose goal is to regulate online database transactions in favor of the licensor which negates their current ability to lend products, donate library materials, or resell unwanted materials in the annual library book sale (What is UCITA?, 2006). In 2002, an amendment that permits the donation or transfer of software to public libraries, public elementary and secondary schools but only if the software is donated with the computer. Academic, private, and all other types of libraries are not included in this exception (Impact on Libraries, 2009). A vendor could possibly sue the university citing this amendment and the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008, PRO-IP Act. This bill addresses violations of intellectual property laws for commercial advantage or financial gain and where the directors or officers are aware of the violation (Library of Congress, 2008).
Although it is possible to accept the book and electronic subscriptions, until the legal and constitutional decisions are finalized, I feel it is morally wrong and will put the library and the university at performance and legal risk. The donation may limit the libraryŐs ability to establish access to e-resources as the EULA probably stipulates the resource is not to be shared. Also, many of the vendors rely on institutional subscriptions in order to stay in business and pass on the savings to the individual subscriber. If institutions were to cancel their subscriptions, the financial loss will probably be passed along to the individual in higher fees which the individual may not be willing to pay thus forcing the vendor out of business. All would lose. (Back to the top)
3. You are appointed into the new position of Collection Manager for a large and wealthy school system in Connecticut, with 6 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and two high schools that you oversee, in terms of what to purchase, what to weed, etc. You are going to the ALA midwinter conference at the end of January, and youŐve received dinner invitations from two of the vendorŐs representatives with whom you do business and one that you do not currently use. YouŐve looked and found no school policy that speaks to this issue. Your Superintendent says itŐs up to you to decide whether or not to accept or refuse as he trusts you to do the right thing. What are the ethical considerations? What will you do—go to those dinners or not--and why?
During many professional conferences, vendors subsidize events for current and potential clients. According to the Statement on Principles and Standards of Acquisitions Practice, a librarian is to afford all vendors honest and equal consideration based on their libraryŐs policies and to decline all forms of bribery, personal gifts and gratuities (ALCTS.org, 2009). In 2007, the State of Connecticut passed a gift ban for state public officials and employees (and sometimes their immediate families and staff) from accepting gifts from certain people. In 2009, The Office of State Ethics updated the Part I, Section 1-79, defines that gifts do not include: food or beverage or both, costing less than fifty dollars in the aggregate per recipient in a calendar year or costing less than one hundred dollars in the aggregate at a hospitality suite at a meeting or conference as long as the host is present in both cases. It also bans state agencies, including public higher-education institutions, from accepting gifts from corporations with which they have contracts or from companies that are seeking to do business with them (Strout, 2007).
In recent years, many companies and organizations instituted their own gift policies which exclude accepting food costing $50 or less. Therefore, most organizations attend large, hospitality-type events at conferences based on their gift policies. Although the Office of State Ethics does not have jurisdiction over municipalitiesŐ codes of ethics (Municipal Ethics, 2009), I would follow the state recommendations when I attend the conference. I would accept invitations to large events where other clients are present. If the invitation were for a private dinner, I would clearly explain that the evening would not affect my decision to purchase from the vendor as the decision is by committee. I would also offer to pay for my own dinner, or go for cocktails only. If these terms were amenable, I would attend the dinner and submit the costs on a travel and expense report. (Back to the top)
American Library Association.
(2009). Anti-Piracy Legislation. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/woissues/copyrightb/federallegislation/antipiracylegislation/antipiracy.cfm.
(2008). Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/statementspols/codeofethics/codeethics.cfm
(2006). Database Protection Legislation. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/woissues/copyrightb/federallegislation/dbprotection/databaseprotection.cfm.
(2009). Digital Rights Management (DRM) & Libraries. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/copyright/digitalrights/index.cfm
(2009). Fair Use. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/copyright/copyrightarticle/whatfairuse.cfm
(2005). Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Policies, Regulations and Procedures Affecting Access to Library Materials, Services and Facilities. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=otherpolicies&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=78184.
(2006). What is UCITA?. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/woissues/copyrightb/statelegislation/ucita/ucita.cfm.
(2009). UCITA: Impact on Libraries. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/woissues/copyrightb/ucita/impact.cfm.
Association of College and Research Libraries.
(2009). ACRL/SAA Joint Statement on Access to Research Materials in Archives and Special Collections Libraries. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/standards/jointstatement.cfm.
(2004) Standards for Libraries in Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/standards/standardslibraries.cfm.
Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. (2009). Statement on Principles and Standards of Acquisitions Practice. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alcts/resources/collect/acq/acqethics.cfm.
Foster, A. (2003). Colleges' Database Dilemma. Chronicle of Higher Education, 50(8), A35. http://search.ebscohost.com
Library of Congress. (2008). Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 - Public Law No: 110-403. Retrieved from http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:SN03325:@@@L&summ2=m&
State of Connecticut.
(2009). Office of State Ethics. Chapter 10. Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.ct.gov/ethics/cwp/view.asp?a=2313&q=432632.
(2009). Municipal Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.ct.gov/ethics/cwp/view.asp?a=3488&q=415012
Strout, E., & Mangan, K. (2007). Give & Take. Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 53. Issue 21, A25. http://0-web.ebscohost.com.www.consuls.org/ehost/detail?vid=51&hid=9&sid=83990334-cfba-4096-9740-93699c4af6b8%40sessionmgr112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ehh&AN=23897097 (Back to the top)