Values of the
Prepared and reported by:
Joanne C. Constantino
The Values of librarianship
Values are essential to the
success and future of
librarianship: they highlight what
is "important and worthy in the
long run," and help to define our
profession. In a literature review
on professional values in LIS,
Lee Finks argues that these
values fall into four categories:
Professional values are inherent in librarianship
and include recognizing the importance of
service and stewardship; maintaining
philosophical values that reflect wisdom, truth,
and neutrality; preserving democratic values; and
being passionate about reading and books.
General values are "commonly shared by
normal, healthy people, whatever their field."
Librarians' work, social, and satisfaction values
express a commitment to lifelong learning, the
importance of tolerance and cooperation, and the
need to feel accepted.
Personal values specifically belong to library
workers and include humanistic, idealistic,
conservative, and aesthetic values.
Rival values threaten the mission of libraries with
bureaucratic, anti-intellectual, and nihilistic ideas.
Librarians must have faith in the profession's
ability to do good.
Defining professional values
In 1999, the ALA formed a task force to "to clarify the
core values (credo) of the profession". This task
force believed "that without common values, we
are not a profession," and proposed the following
definition of common goals for our field:
Connection of people to ideas
Assurance of free and open access to recorded
knowledge, information and creative works
Commitment to literacy and learning
Respect for the individuality and the diversity of all
Freedom for all people to form, to hold, and to
express their own beliefs
Preservation of the human record
Excellence in professional service to our
Formation of partnerships to advance these values
Despite the work of this task force, the
ALA did not adopt a Core Value
Statement until June 2004. This
statement represented a compromise
between the task force and its critics,
and took its 11 core values from ALA
policies that were already in effect.
While the task force's document
positioned these values in relation to
our profession (for example, our
profession must provide "assurance"
that access to recorded knowledge is
free and open), the official ALA policy
simply lists the values.
The ALA's wording also leaves its list open to
other values as well, and lists these
as examples of core values:
Access - All information resources that are provided directly or
indirectly by the library, regardless of technology, format, or methods
of delivery, should be readily, equally, and equitably accessible to all
Confidentiality/privacy - Protecting user privacy and confidentiality is
necessary for intellectual freedom and fundamental to the ethics and
practice of librarianship.
Democracy - A democracy presupposes an informed citizenry. The
First Amendment mandates the right of all persons to free
expression, and the corollary right to receive the constitutionally
protected expression of others. The publicly supported library
provides free and equal access to information for all people of the
community the library serves.
Diversity - We value our nation's diversity and strive to reflect that
diversity by providing a full spectrum of resources and services to
the communities we serve.
Education and lifelong learning - ALA promotes the creation,
maintenance, and enhancement of a learning society, encouraging
its members to work with educators, government officials, and
organizations in coalitions to initiate and support comprehensive
efforts to ensure that school, public, academic, and special libraries
in every community cooperate to provide lifelong learning services to
Intellectual freedom - We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and
resist all efforts to censor library resources.
Preservation - ALA reaffirms the following fundamental values of libraries in
the context of discussing outsourcing and privatization of library services.
These values include that libraries are an essential public good and are
fundamental institutions in democratic societies.
The Public good - The Association supports the preservation of information
published in all media and formats. The association affirms that the
preservation of information resources is central to libraries and librarianship.
Professionalism - The American Library Association supports the provision of
library services by professionally qualified personnel who have been
educated in graduate programs within institutions of higher education. It is of
vital importance that there be professional education available to meet the
social needs and goals of library services.
Service - We provide the highest level of service to all library users ...We
strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own
knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-
workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the
Social responsibility - ALA recognizes its broad social responsibilities. The
broad social responsibilities of the American Library Association are defined
in terms of the contribution that librarianship can make in ameliorating or
solving the critical problems of society; support for efforts to help inform and
educate the people of the United States on these problems and to encourage
them to examine the many views on and the facts regarding each problem;
and the willingness of ALA to take a position on current critical issues with the
Why is the Librarian having no philosophy?
The experts created varied reasons why this
particular profession doesn’t have its own
Allegedly, the librarians are very much occupied
in their works that deprive them to devote ample
time in analyzing himself and his profession.
The heavy responsibility he encounters in his
work reduces his time in deep thinking or in
philosophical meditation about the significance of
The librarian seems to be solute in the simplicity
of practical outlook: his devotion to duty and the
quest for solution or enhancement to every
technical work is seemingly enough for his
ADVANTAGES OF HAVING A
To give systematic organization of the
To be able to examine the complex
nature of librarianship.
To know vividly the meaning of our
To solve practical problems.
To become articulate in valuable future
According to Foskett “one of the
advantages of having philosophy is to
acknowledge librarianship as a
Philosophy serves as guideline to the
goals and objectives of librarianship.
According to J. P. Danton some points
that comprises the advantages that
can be used by the professionals
prompted by the establishment of a
philosophy these can be stated briefly
The acquisition of a specific and known stand for the library
for the social order and if there is not distant, of a new social
order, the foundation and recognition of the library as an
important, creative and an educating force to improve
The acceptance of library science is gradually taking place.
The acceptance according to the needs of time and current
The giving of technical meaning and mechanical strategies
the progress of library science certainly contributes to the
achievement of orderly scientific structure for practical
Another advantage that can be gained from professional
philosophy is the certainty of a directed work brought by
knowledge or understanding of a goal.
The goodness affected by knowledge and the ways of
separating or identifying the myriad responsibilities and work
of the varied types of library employees.
We can rely on the birth of the unified professional spirit - this
means the reorganization or acceptance of a definite stand of
Five laws of S.R. (Shiyali
Books are for use
Every book its reader
Every reader his book
Save the time of the reader
The library is a growing
Michael Gorman respectfully adjusted
Ranganathan's laws to better fit the
future needs and practices of libraries.
Gorman's revised laws are:
Libraries serve humanity- They should
serve the individual, community and
society to a higher quality. When making
decisions, librarians should consider how
the change will better serve humanity.
Respect all forms by which knowledge is
communicated- If there is a new means
of communication of knowledge, and it is
a better carrier, utilize it.
Use technology intelligently to enhance
service- Technology needs to be
integrated so that it is used intelligently in
a cost-effective and beneficial way.
Protect free access to knowledge- The
library is central to freedom. It needs to
preserve all records so none are lost,
and should be transmitted to all.
Honor the past and create the future-
Libraries need to combine the past and
future in a rational manner. Not clinging
to the past but looking forward for the
Rich Gause’s Philosophy
Know your Collection
Do more than just focus on your assigned subject area;
learn something about the whole library. Know its
strengths. Know its weaknesses. Know its hidden
treasures. The practice of librarianship is neither abstract
concepts nor Boolean operators. Some fresh librarians never
seem to go near the print resources and some experienced
librarians still shy away from newfangled electronic
resources. Don’t fall into either trap. Blow the dust off the old
tomes, power up the microform reader, or pull the really skinny
books off the shelf to see how much can be hidden inside 20-60
pages. Explore circulating books, journals, audiovisual items,
maps, special collections, file cabinets, and other nooks and
crannies. Look at new resources that are acquired with an eye
towards what they add to the current mix. Browse through the
reshelving bins to get a sense of what your patrons are actually
using. It is not possible for anyone to know every detail about
every resource in any medium-sized or larger library. But one of
the major values of having librarians in the library is the
guidance brought to the research process.
•Know your Colleagues
Again, no single person can know everything, but a
team of librarians can almost always resolve the most
baffling of questions. Get to know the backgrounds and
interests of your colleagues. What are their
specialties? What flavors do they add to the soup? If
you have to turn a question over to a specialist
colleague, follow up later to learn what they used. The
librarian with the brand new degree has probably had
greater opportunity to read about the latest trends in the
field. New colleagues can provide a fresh eye to
critically analyze the way things have always been
done. Be conversant with the processes of other
specialties. Talk with these colleagues so that you
understand the broader ramifications of seemingly small
decisions. Acknowledge the vital roles played by the
other individuals working in the library: computer
technicians, programmers, clerks, shelvers,
administrators, custodians, student assistants, library
technical assistants, etc.
•Know your Profession
Explore the history of language, writing, books,
libraries, computers, and everything else that
relates to storing and transferring
information. Think about how Ranganathan's Five
Laws of Library Science apply in the modern library
setting. Internalize the ideals of intellectual freedom
and confidentiality. Spend time pondering issues
such as literacy, censorship, copyright, equity of
access and privacy. Recognize how the social and
political climates of your institution or community
may influence decisions. Examine your principles
and develop skills to educate others. Avoid
isolating yourself within your specialty. Make a
point of learning about other types and sizes of
libraries: public, academic, school, prison,
corporate, law, medical, etc. Network with a wide
variety of individuals from all walks of life.
•Share your Knowledge
The point of learning everything is to share it with
others. Don't bottle it up inside and don't be miserly
when sharing it. There is no danger of making yourself
dispensable. There will always be new learners and
new things for you yourself to learn. Teach others who
express an interest in learning how to find information
on their own, and avoid overwhelming the person who
just wants a few facts. Create finding aids, conduct
training sessions, or write articles and books. Engage
in discussions face-to-face and through electronic
means. Do more than just attend conferences and
workshops -- be an active participant and take on
responsibilities within your professional
associations. Get involved in your local community
outside the library. Contribute to the profession in
whatever ways suit you. The aggregate value of
thousands of librarians all over the world comes when
they each know their local collections well and then
share that knowledge.
”The joys of librarianship
come from the endless
to learn new things and to teach
Be passionate about whatever
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