Participant-Driven: Converging Around Ethical Questions in Special Collections

Participant-Driven: Converging Around Ethical Questions in Special Collections

Sponsored by California Rare Book School

Special collections librarians have long grappled with ethical questions unique to the types of materials in our collections and the particular modes of acquisition through which they enter. The 2003 ACRL Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians skillfully addresses many of these, including the need for professional boundaries (between personal and institutional collecting or librarians and the rare books market, for example) and professional judgment (such as situations in which preservation needs conflict with a commitment to free access).

Sponsored by the Task Force to Revise the Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians, this participant-driven session serves as a means to gain input from RBMS members on new and transformed ethical questions attendant to our current reality of the democratization of collections, the omnipresence of digitization, and our heightened sensitivity to the need to include and protect diverse voices and perspectives in our practice. We will encourage free and open discussion around three major ethical themes:

  • Privacy and disclosure concerns arising from our willingness to democratize all of our materials
  • Navigation of personal bias in collecting and describing materials representing diverse perspectives and voices, especially in relation to community collecting
  • The ongoing fight to balance preservation and access in both the analog and digital realms

Discussants will introduce one theme with a brief exploration of an ethical issue or situation they have encountered. Afterward, participants will join one of three theme-based discussion groups to explore a topic more deeply.