But no more! What follows is a statement approved by the SLA board in December 2010. I have left the old draft statement on this page in case you might want to compare the two.
SLA Professional Ethics Guidelines
SLA promotes the professional welfare of its members and the organizations and people they serve and fosters the global progress of the knowledge society. In an environment where concepts and practices of ethics and service continue to extend and expand, SLA members strive to implement and promote guidelines for the ethical and appropriate use of information and knowledge. Fundamental to these guidelines is the recognition that there are different kinds of information and knowledge, such as personally identifiable, proprietary, or classified information or public information pertaining to the actions of government. Also fundamental is a respect for a diversity of viewpoints, for cultural differences and for civil discourse.
SLA recognizes that ethical reflection is required in the application of these guidelines. In certain situations, ethical values may be in conflict or may demand that one ethical value take priority over another, especially given the diversity of SLA membership. For example, accountability to society or to the organization may trump the right to privacy or confidentiality.
SLA's guidelines for professional conduct are positioned within various interacting value systems: basic human rights; organizational missions, goals, objectives and ethical codes; legal, cultural, societal and governmental norms; and personal ethical beliefs. The guidelines are intended to help SLA members frame ethical deliberation whenever professionally-related ethical problems arise.
SLA members foster the profession's reputation for integrity, competence, diligence, honesty, discretion and confidentiality through creating and sustaining an environment that facilitates mutual trust among employers, clients or other individuals served, and the profession. They encourage the profession by sharing best practices, experiences and research.
Act with honesty, fairness and in good faith in serving and providing value to their employers, clients, and vendors.
Provide their employer, organization, or clients with the highest level of service, by delivering the best sources and services possible within organizational constraints and by improving the quality of and adding value to the information and knowledge they provide.
Enhance employer success by contributing to the mission, goals, policies and strategies of the organization.
Respect the intellectual property of their employers, clients and competitors, and within the legal and ethical constraints of the organization, inform their clients or employers of potential legal and ethical violations in the provision of sources or services.
Honor the privacy, rights, and reputation of individuals and organizations in the proper use of information content regardless of format or medium, adhering to the best practices of ensuring confidentiality.
Strive for excellence by seeking and maintaining professional knowledge and competencies in intellectual and information technologies in themselves, their colleagues, their organization and other professionals, including education for information literacy.
Represent themselves accurately concerning their education, competencies and experience to their employers, clients, colleagues and other professionals.
Avoid conflicts of interest while in the performance of their work.
Prepared by the SLA Information Ethics Advisory Council
Toni Carbo, Thomas Froehlich, Louis-Rene Dessureault, Jonathan Gordon-Till, Barbie Keiser, Barbara Wildemuth, Deb Hunt and Carolyn Sosnowski
Approved by the SLA Board of Directors December 2010*************************************************************************
At its 1992 annual conference, the SLA Board received for its consideration the draft statement on professional conduct reproduced below. It apparently was never formally adopted, because the SLA states on its website that it does not have its own code of ethics, but "adheres to all good practices of information delivery. In general members have felt that their organizational environments have set the work ethics by which they are guided rather than a professional organization."
Members of the Special Libraries Association are employed in libraries and information centers which are integral parts of other organizations. As such, they are bound by their parent organizations' codes of ethics or other such statements with regard to appropriate professional conduct. Nevertheless, there are areas of conduct specific to the management of a special library or information center and the provision of information for that library/information center's defined user group which are appropriate for members as part of their affiliation with the Special Libraries Association. These areas require compliance with laws currently in force and include such professional components as competence, continuing education, confidentiality, self-protection, comprehensiveness, honesty, and reliability. Therefore, members of the Special Libraries Association agree to be bound by the following obligations of professional conduct:
- To provide constituent users, as defined by the employer/organization, with the most current, accurate, and relevant information, regardless of personal beliefs or the possible uses to which the information might be put.
- To protect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals requesting information.
- To select and organize information resources responsibly to support the highest quality information services for the organization, consistent with the mission of the organization.
- To avoid misrepresentation of the purpose for gathering information or the use to which it will be put, in order to gain information which might otherwise be withheld.
- To uphold and actively advise others to uphold all laws governing the creation, reproduction, and dissemination of information.
- To maintain high standards of personal professional competence in information services.
- To abide by the legalities governing the employing corporate structure.
from Special Libraries, Fall 1992, pp 242-44
Or see: General Industry FAQs at http://www.sla.org/content/membership/Genfaq.cfm.