Information Ethics: The Duty, Privilege and Challenge of Educating Information Professionals.
QUESTIONS CONCERNING ETHICS AND HOW AN individual can act ethically when confronted with issues related to libraries, archives, and, more broadly, information have ever been present in our professional lives whenever individuals considered their own principles and actions as related to creating, organizing, managing, using, disseminating, preserving, and providing access to information and documents in all forms. To address the duty, privilege, and challenge of educating librarians, archivists, and other information professionals to understand what ethics is and how to make ethical decisions Real life ethical decisions are studied in sociology and political science and psychology using very different methods than descriptive ethics in ethics (philosophy). Not ethics proper in their personal lives and work, the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh developed a Dean's Forum on Information Ethics Information ethics it is the field that investigates the ethical issues arising from the development and application of information technologies. It provides a critical framework for considering moral issues concerning informational privacy, moral agency (e.g. , a course offered twice a year, a Web site, and an information ethics program.
This article describes the history and evolution of information ethics at the University of Pittsburgh and describes the course and its three components: an introduction addressing the reason and need for moral instruction and ethical reflection; the necessary steps for facing up to and resolving a moral dilemma; and the ethical issues in librarianship, information technology, and management. The course and lecture series are considered within the broader context of the school's curriculum and the multicultural international society.
Questions concerning ethics and how an individual can act ethically when confronted with issues related to libraries, archives, and, more broadly, information, have been ever present in our professional lives whenever individuals considered their own principles and actions as related to creating, organizing, managing, using, disseminating, preserving, and providing access to information and documents in all forms.
Librarians, archivists, and other information professionals often encounter conflicts when their own individual values differ with those of others or with those of the library or of the organization for which they work. While other articles in this issue address examples from individual libraries and organizations, this article is focused on the duty, privilege, and challenge of educating librarians, archivists, and other information professionals to understand what ethics is and how to make ethical decisions in their personal lives and work.
WHY STUDY INFORMATION ETHICS?
In our increasingly complex, multicultural, and information-intensive society, many critical issues related to information access and use are misunderstood, inadequately considered, or even ignored. These issues may involve balancing individual and societal needs (such as in protecting both an individual's privacy and the public's right to know); resolving conflicting views about library collection policies between librarians and parents of schoolchildren schoolchildren school npl → écoliers mpl;
(at secondary school) → collégiens mpl; lycéens mpl
schoolchildren school ; resolving disagreements between individual archivists and retention policies concerning electronic records; understanding one's own view of what is ethical; or many other topics. In a growing number of instances, decisions concerning information access and use are placing information professionals in sensitive, and sometimes vulnerable, positions.
Knowing how to create, find, manage, access, preserve, and use information effectively provides a form of power to the information professional, whether it is through speed of access to needed sources, the ability to hack into a system, or complex skills to find and create new multimedia information resources (1) The data and information assets of an organization, department or unit. See data administration.
(2) Another name for the Information Systems (IS) or Information Technology (IT) department. See IT. . Information professionals, as well as those who rely on them to provide a wide array of services to help people work more efficiently, compete with others, or improve the quality of their lives, must recognize and understand that with power comes responsibility. Like those who acquired power from their knowledge of how to split the atom, librarians, archivists, and other information professionals must learn to understand the possible and real consequences of their actions, reflect on the alternative choices they may make, and determine how best to use their power and act responsibly.
Individuals seeking to become professional librarians or archivists, or seeking to work in other types of cultural heritage institutions or information-related organizations must first learn to develop and hone their own individual sense of ethics, live an ethical life, and be educated about ethical issues in their professional life. In addition, the information professional must learn how--and be ready--to make ethical decisions and take ethical actions (Hammond, Keeney, & Raiffa, 1998).
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY OF INFORMATION ETHICS AT THE SCHOOL OF INFORMATION SCIENCES
In 1980, when she was executive director of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science The National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) is one of the smallest policy agencies in the U.S. government and for the last 20 years has been fighting for its existence. (NCLIS NCLIS National Commission On Libraries and Information Science
NCLIS National Council for Languages and International Studies ), Toni Carbo car·bo
n. pl. car·bos Informal
A carbohydrate. encountered numerous examples of ethical issues related to libraries, archives, and other information-related organizations and companies. She had learned over the previous years while working in libraries and with database producers about the many information policy issues facing decision makers, especially those issues relating to relating to relate prep → concernant
relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc access. These issues included who should have access to what information; how to protect individual privacy, corporate proprietary information, and national security data; the best way to provide equitable access to individuals with disabilities; how to make complex scientific and technical data easily comprehensible com·pre·hen·si·ble
Readily comprehended or understood; intelligible.
[Latin compreh by the lay public; along with a wide range of other difficult questions. At NCLIS, as she visited small libraries in rural remote areas, addressed questions of meeting the diverse needs of an increasingly multilingual mul·ti·lin·gual
1. Of, including, or expressed in several languages: a multilingual dictionary.
2. and multicultural society, learned of archivists' concerns about saving "America's memory," responded to questions concerning archiving of data from land and weather satellites, and tried to help provide library and information services See Information Systems. to meet the country's needs, she quickly learned that the problems were even more complex and challenging. What became increasingly apparent to her was that little was being done to help individuals understand the ethical implications of their actions and how they could behave ethically and make the best decisions.
In 1981, in an "endpoint" article in the American Society for Information Science Bulletin, Carbo asked whether a code of ethics Code of Ethics can refer to:
2. (language) ASIS - Ada Semantic Interface Specification. already had a code of ethics, but that it had lain dormant and unpublicized for some time. Others in ASIS were also interested in reviving and updating the code. The ASIS Professionalism Committee undertook this responsibility. The revised draft code was completed in June 1990 (Barnes, 1990). She also approached the Dean of the School of Library and Information Science A School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) is a university-based institution that provides a Master's degree or other advanced degrees associated with Library science, Information Science, or a combination of the two. at Catholic University of America Catholic University of America, at Washington, D.C.; the national university of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States; coeducational; founded 1887 and opened 1889. to see if the school would be willing to work with her to develop a course on ethics related to the information society. Because of other priorities at the university, the school was not interested in taking this on, and the idea of a course remained only an idea.
In 1986 when she became Dean of the School of Information Sciences (then the School of Library and Information Science), Carbo was asked by Stephen Almagno about her individual goals for the school. In addition to the three she had identified (pushing for excellence in all the school did, increasing funded research, and developing a high quality continuing education continuing education: see adult education.
or adult education
Any form of learning provided for adults. In the U.S. the University of Wisconsin was the first academic institution to offer such programs (1904). ), she added her own personal interest in developing a course on the ethics of information in society (now known as Information Ethics) as an initial step in promoting education, reflection, and action on the ethical issues of the information professions. Almagno offered to help, and together they decided to begin with a lecture series that, it was hoped, would raise awareness of the topic and encourage attention to, reflection on, and action about ethical issues.
Selecting the first lecturer was a difficult decision for Carbo and Almagno because they believed it was essential to find someone who was widely respected, had outstanding credentials, would attract a good audience, and would present an intelligent and thought-provoking lecture. After considerable discussion, on January 26, 1989, the school hosted its first "SIS Dean's Forum on Information Ethics." The Reverend Robert Drinan Father Robert Frederick Drinan, S.J. (November 15 1920 – January 28 2007) was a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, lawyer, human rights activist, and Democratic U.S. Representative from Massachusetts. , S. J. Professor of Law and faculty advisor to the Georgetown Journal Georgetown Journal may refer to:
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page. and former U. S. Representative from Massachusetts, spoke on "The Ethics of Information in Society." The current information ethics Web site, www.sis.pitt.edu/~ethics, gives a complete listing of the eighteen lecturers and their topics. From Drinan to Martin Walker (then Washington, DC-based bureau chief of The Guardian), and from John Leo Leo, in astronomy
Leo [Lat.,=the lion], northern constellation lying S of Ursa Major and on the ecliptic (apparent path of the sun through the heavens) between Cancer and Virgo; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. , University of Rhode Island History
The University was first chartered as the state's agricultural school in 1888. The site of the school was originally the Oliver Watson Farm, and the original farmhouse still lies on the campus today. (who spoke on Robert Mapplethorpe Robert Mapplethorpe (November 4, 1946 – March 9, 1989) was an American photographer, known for his large-scale, highly stylized black & white portraits, photos of flowers and male nudes. ) to Pamela Samuelson Pamela Samuelson is the Richard M. Sherman '74 Distinguished Professor of Law and Information Management at the University of California, Berkeley with a joint appointment in the UC Berkeley School of Information and Boalt Hall, the School of Law. , professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh (who questioned "Who Owns Information?") and Robert Park There are several influential persons named Robert Park:
Master's Level Course
In fall 1990, Carbo and Almagno introduced a team-taught, master's level course, then called "The Ethics of Information in Society." The course's stated purpose was "to educate students about ethical issues in the Information Profession."
Over the next several years, interest in the course continued to grow as students studying library science (now library and information science), information science, and telecommunications took the course and were joined by students from business, law, psychology, and other majors at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as students from Carnegie Mellon University Carnegie Mellon University, at Pittsburgh, Pa.; est. 1967 through the merger of the Carnegie Institute of Technology (founded 1900, opened 1905) and the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research (founded 1913). . Because of student interest and to accommodate their schedules, the course was offered twice a year, both during the day and in the evening.
Several doctoral students have worked with Almagno. A one-time doctoral seminar based on a close reading of Plato's Republic has been followed by doctoral students doing both independent research and doctoral dissertations under his direction. Jeffrey Huber, presently on the faculty at Texas Woman's University Texas Woman's University, main campus at Denton; state supported; primarily for women; est. 1901. It is the largest state-supported university for women in the country. , editor of the forthcoming Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, and internationally recognized specialist on information ethics and AIDS, was the first SIS student to write and defend his dissertation on information ethics under the guidance of Almagno. Currently, doctoral candidate, Joyce Li, is writing her dissertation on the subject of "Internet Privacy Internet privacy consists of privacy over the media of the Internet: the ability to control what information one reveals about oneself over the Internet, and to control who can access that information. : A Study of the Center for Democracy and Technology's Influence on Legislation and Opinion, 1995-2000." Carbo chairs her dissertation committee and Almagno is a member of the committee.
Impact on Students
Although most courses have an impact on students' preparation for their careers and often on their individual lives as well, graduates report that the information ethics courses have had a much greater effect on their personal and professional lives than other courses. Over the years since the course was introduced, scores of students have sent unsolicited letters and e-mail (or have spoken directly to Carbo and others) about how the course changed them.
In 1998, SIS graduate and first Information Ethics Fellow, Barbara Rockenbach, wrote an article in the Journal of Information Ethics in which she quoted Almagno:
Much of the evidence that I have of the course's impact is either confidential or anecdotal. Two students, Jeffrey Huber and Leslie Lee, have gone public and allowed me to publish their feelings about the course. Dr. Huber commented: "having had the opportunity to study Information Ethics under the direction of Stephen Almagno has proven to be invaluable. Insights Professor Almagno presented in the classroom and in subsequent discussion continue to provoke ethical consideration in my current role as researcher, practitioner, and educator. Ethical reflection, where the information-knowledge-wisdom continuum is concerned, is no longer a luxury but a necessity."
Leslie Lee, the collection services librarian at Jacob Burns Law Library, wrote:
Of all my experiences in graduate school, the most enduring is the way Professor Almagno constantly challenged, encouraged, and guided his Information Ethics students to love the questions. To me, that is precisely what the course is all about--being open and willing to examine life critically and to appreciate the process of ethical decision-making as much as, if not more than, the decision itself.
And, in 1999, the university's Vice Chancellor vice chancellor
n. Abbr. VC
1. A deputy or an assistant chancellor in a university.
2. A deputy to or a substitute for a head of state or an official bearing the title chancellor.
3. for Student Affairs Student affairs staff are responsible for academic advising and support services delivery at colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. The chief student affairs officer at a college or university often reports directly to the chief executive of the institution. informed Almagno that, in a student survey conducted by the Vice Chancellor's office, he had been identified as someone "who has made a significant and positive impact on their lives."
In 1996, to recognize and honor Almagno for his twenty-five years of excellence in teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, contributions were received from foundations and individuals, including many former students, and the Information Ethics Fund was established. Its purpose is to support:
* an Information Ethics Fellowship,
* acquisitions of print and non-print library resource materials,
* travel expenses and honoraria for Dean's Forum Speakers, and
* participation by Almagno and students in information ethics conferences.
Information Ethics Fellows
The Information Ethics Fellowship was established in 1996 to help promote and support the information ethics program at SIS. The fellowship is for students interested in information ethics or in pursuing a career in the field of information ethics. The fellowship is funded by donations from the Information Ethics Fund. To apply for the fellowship, the student must be currently enrolled or accepted into Pitt's SIS master's or doctoral program. Applications are reviewed by a committee of faculty and an outside expert, and recommendations are made to the dean, who selects the fellows.
Former fellows have been hired by prestigious universities (Yale), highly influential organizations (QVC QVC Quality Value Convenience
QVC Question Valid Command Inc.), and most of them have already published articles in the Journal of Information Ethics (edited by SIS alumnus ALUMNUS, civil law. A child which one has nursed; a foster child. Dig. 40, 2, 14. Robert Hauptman) and other leading journals.
The Web Site
Established in 1997, the Web site was created to provide information to the SIS and University of Pittsburgh community as well as incoming students and individuals from around the world interested in information ethics. It is the responsibility of the Information Ethics Fellow to maintain and update the Web site. Currently, with input and cooperation from Capurro (head of the International Center for Information Ethics), Marti Smith (Palmer School of Library and Information Science), Nancy Zimmerman (University of South Carolina
• • , Columbia, College of Library and Information Science), and Barbara Rockenbach (Yale University Yale University, at New Haven, Conn.; coeducational. Chartered as a collegiate school for men in 1701 largely as a result of the efforts of James Pierpont, it opened at Killingworth (now Clinton) in 1702, moved (1707) to Saybrook (now Old Saybrook), and in 1716 was ), efforts are underway to have the Web site reach an even wider audience.
A Course in Process
In the twenty years TWENTY YEARS. The lapse of twenty years raises a presumption of certain facts, and after such a time, the party against whom the presumption has been raised, will be required to prove a negative to establish his rights.
2. since the idea of a course on information ethics was first conceived, many of the issues addressed remain constant (although the circumstances in which they exist have undergone a dramatic revolution), and some issues are new and "hot." The course and the lecture series have, naturally, evolved over time. Initially the course was experimental in every sense. But now, benefiting (in his own words and admission) from the great contributions of Alfino, Pierce, Mason, Stichler, Smith, Hauptman, and especially the thinking of Martha Nussbaum Martha Nussbaum (born Martha Craven on May 6, 1947) is an American philosopher with a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy and ethics. , Almagno sees the course based on three main components. First, he provides an introduction addressing the reason and need for moral instruction and ethical reflection. Next, he tries to teach the necessary steps for facing up to and resolving a moral dilemma. And finally, he looks at ethical issues in librarianship, information technology, and management. And basic to the entire course--as a constantly repeated theme--is the conviction that moral education and ethical reflection is first and foremost directed to the individual and only later is it directed to others. Information ethics has, in our conviction, a place--a vital place--in the curriculum because, in a professional school, the student is constantly involved with the "know-how." And while/when ethical issues may come up in other classes, the student does not have the chance to really look at those issues--or simply responds to them from a "gut level." The present SIS information ethics course strives to combine the "know-how" with the "know-why" and thus is constantly in process.
Interest Beyond the University
In March 1997, Unesco held the first "Info-Ethics: International Conference on Ethical, Legal, and Societal Aspects of Digital Information." Carbo served on the planning committee planning committee n (in local government) → comité m de planificación for the conference and presented a paper on "Mediacy me·di·a·cy
The state or quality of being mediate.
Noun 1. mediacy - the quality of being mediate
indirectness - having the characteristic of lacking a true course toward a goal : Knowledge and Skills to Navigate the Information Highway." The proceedings from the conference are published in The International Information and Library Review (1997) and cover three major themes: (1) accessing digital information, (2) preserving digital information and records, and (3) preparing society for the multimedia environment.
Through our SIS efforts, several library associations International
Abbr. PR or P.R.
A self-governing island commonwealth of the United States in the Caribbean Sea east of Hispaniola. Library Associations at the University of San Juan San Juan, city, Argentina
San Juan (săn wän, Span. sän hwän), city (1991 pop. 353,476), capital of San Juan prov., W Argentina. It is a commercial and industrial center in an agricultural region. (1999), and to the 1999 Buffalo meeting of the New York Library Association The New York Library Association (NYLA) was founded in 1890 to promote New York libraries. NYLA was was the first state-wide organization of librarians in the United States. One of its founders was Melvil Dewey, who has had a lasting impact on libraries in the United States. where his topic was "Information Ethics: Our Profession's Reluctant Response." In March 2000 he lectured on the "Ethics of Our Profession" at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, College of Library and Information Science. And during 2000 and 2001, he is scheduled to deliver a paper (together with Barbara Rockenbach) on "Distance Learning Education: Some of the Unasked un·asked
1. Not asked: Several unasked questions remain.
2. Not invited: Unasked guests arrived at the party.
3. and Unanswered Questions" at the Ethics of Electronic Information in the 21st Century symposium in Memphis and to give four major addresses: a lecture in celebration of the commencement of delivering the library science program, with a focus on health sciences librarianship/health information (13 September 2000, Texas Woman's University) at the university's Houston campus in Texas Medical Center; Long Island, New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , at the LILRC LILRC Long Island Library Resources Council (New York) Ninth Annual Conference on Libraries and the Future (19 October 2000); Saratoga, New York For the adjoining City of Saratoga Springs, see Saratoga Springs, New York.
Saratoga is a town in Saratoga County, New York, United States. The population was 5,141 at the 2000 census. , a day-long presentation on information ethics for the New York Library Association (1 November 2000); and Columbia, South Carolina Columbia is the state capital and largest city of South Carolina. As of 2006, estimates for the population of the city proper is 122,819. Columbia is the county seat of Richland County, but a small portion of the city extends into Lexington County. , the USC An abbreviation for U.S. Code. Dean's Lecture (30 March 2001).
Information ethics is expected to become even more important in the years ahead. Recent articles and news reports about breaks into security systems, viruses, whether access to the Internet should be limited to certain groups such as children and, if so, how, are just a few examples of questions facing information professionals today. Very soon, many students at universities will probably have digital cameras built into chips on their computers, giving them the opportunity to share full motion video with others. Some students are running businesses from their dorm rooms; in public areas, some are viewing materials considered objectionable (or even "obscene") by others. Downloading of music from the Web raises questions of violation of copyright and also of appropriate use of university-provided or corporate-provided networks and other services. Monitoring of employees' uses of the Internet or other information-technology services provided by the employer is becoming commonplace and has been determined to be legal. Questions about these and other practices become more challenging each day.
No other school has followed SIS's lead in integrating four components (a course, lecture series, Web site, and fellows) into an information ethics program, and only a few teach even one course on this important subject. In the future, it is expected that more schools will introduce such a course. Interest in the Web site and in conferences, such as the Unesco and Memphis conferences Memphis Conference is one of the 72 Conferences (or middle judicatories) of the United Methodist Church. It is comprised of seven districts and 446 churches in West Tennessee and the Jackson Purchase area of western Kentucky. Richard J. Wills, Jr. is Bishop. (The International Information and Library Review, edited by Toni Carbo, will publish the proceedings of EEI EEI Edison Electric Institute
EEI Estación Espacial Internacional (Spanish: International Space Station)
EEI Electrical and Electronics Institute (Thailand)
EEI Electro Energy, Inc. 21-MEMPHIS-2000), indicate growing international concern about these issues. The authors hope that this interest will result in more library, archival, and information programs developing and teaching courses on information ethics.
SIS plans to continue to teach these courses and to maintain its program and Web site. To date, more than 400 students have taken the courses and well over 1,000 people have attended the forums. Two forums in 2000 featured Sanford Berman Sanford Berman (b. October 6, 1933) is an outspoken, radical librarian (cataloger) known for promoting alternative viewpoints in librarianship and acting as a pro-active information conduit to other librarians around the world, mostly via public speaking, voluminous correspondence, speaking on library catalog access to materials concerning ethnicity, seniors, gays and lesbians, and other groups; Jerry Berman, the executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, addressed issues of privacy in the electronic environment. The forum series will continue to seek to address the most challenging issues of the day in the years to come.
Almagno, after thirty years at SIS, will retire in 2002, and Carbo will teach the ethics course. SIS plans to continue with the duty, privilege, and challenge of educating in information ethics in the years ahead.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT acknowledgment, in law, formal declaration or admission by a person who executed an instrument (e.g., a will or a deed) that the instrument is his. The acknowledgment is made before a court, a notary public, or any other authorized person.
The authors wish to acknowledge the many fine students at the School of Information Sciences and from other schools at the University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh community who have taken our courses, participated in ethics lectures, and served as Information Ethics Fellows. We have learned from them as we continue to face the challenges of educating them and encouraging others to address information ethics in their lives and work. We also gratefully acknowledge the several foundations and the many individuals who have supported the development of our information ethics program.
Barnes, R. F. (1990). The making of an ethics code. American Society for Information Science Bulletin, 16(6), 24-25.
Bearman, T. C. (1981). Do we need a code of ethics for information science. American Society for Information Science Bulletin, 8(1), 36.
Carbo, T. (1997). Mediacy: Knowledge and skills to navigate the information highway. The International Information and Library Review, (29), 393-401.
Carbo, T. (Ed.). (1997). Info-ethics: First international congress on ethical, legal, and societal aspects of digital information. The International Information and Library Review, 29(2 & 3-4), 111-260; 261-516.
Carbo, T. (2000). Ethics of electronic information in the 21st century symposium. The International Information and Library Review, 30(324), 251-517.
Hammond, J. S.; Keeney, R. L.; & Raiffa, H. (1998). The hidden traps in decision making. Harvard Business Review Harvard Business Review is a general management magazine published since 1922 by Harvard Business School Publishing, owned by the Harvard Business School. A monthly research-based magazine written for business practitioners, it claims a high ranking business readership and , 76(2), 137.
Rockenbach, B. (1998). Information ethics at the University of Pittsburgh. Journal of Information Ethics, 7(2), 13-18.
Toni Carbo, University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences, 505 IS Building, 135 N. Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Stephen Almagno, University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences, Department of Library and Information Science, 657 IS Building, 135 N. Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
TONI CARBO is Dean and Professor, University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences. She has worked in the information professions since 1962. Prior to her tenure at the University of Pittsburgh, Dean Carbo was Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS). She has extensive experience in libraries and with information providers.
STEPHEN ALMAGNO is Professor, University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences, Department of Library and Information Science. He has taught courses on various subjects such as Rare Books and Resources in the Humanities and was instrumental in the development of courses, the lecture series, and the Fellowship program on information ethics for students in the information field.