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EDUCAT  March 2008

EDUCAT March 2008

Subject:

Re: Ethics in Cataloging

From:

Suzanne Stauffer <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Discussion List for issues related to cataloging & metadata education & training <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 12 Mar 2008 21:36:08 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (154 lines)

Again, that was not the question. The question was specifically whether it was ethical to limit table of contents information to 505 fields. That does not strike me as an ethical issue.
 
I am concerned that we seem to be diluting the concept of "ethics" by applying that label to every issue that arises in order to support our own point of view. Calling the decision not to analyze a work "unethical" simply because we disagree with that decision does not make it so. 
 
While assigning "Unibomber" as a reference to Kaczynsky before it had been deteremined that he was the Unibomber would have been potentially libelous, therefore illegal and possibly unethical, it would most definitely have been inaccurate, premature, and possibly inefficient as it would have had to be removed had he been found not to have been the Unibomber. 
 
Suzanne M. Stauffer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Louisiana State University
275 Coates Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
(225)578-1461
Fax: (225)578-4581
[log in to unmask]

________________________________

From: Discussion List for issues related to cataloging & metadata education & training on behalf of Boehr, Diane (NIH/NLM) [E]
Sent: Wed 3/12/2008 1:43 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [eduCAT] Ethics in Cataloging



Suzanne,

When I taught cataloging I would point out that there were even ethical
issues in name authority work. For example, for geographic headings,
what message are we sending when Jerusalem is not qualified by any
country heading? 

For personal names, back between 1996 and 1998 we had some discussions
about whether or not it would be ethical to put Unabomber as a cross
reference on the record for Theodore Kaczynski before he was formally
convicted.


Diane Boehr
Head, Cataloging Section
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894

301-435-7059
301-402-1211 (fax)
[log in to unmask]



-----Original Message-----
From: Suzanne Stauffer [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:46 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [eduCAT] Ethics in Cataloging

The specific question I was responding was about access issues.

Ethics in cataloging in general does go beyond access issues, as you
describe. However, the original question was whether it went beyond such
things as classification and subject heading bias.

Suzanne M. Stauffer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Louisiana State University
275 Coates Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
(225)578-1461
Fax: (225)578-4581
[log in to unmask]

________________________________

From: Discussion List for issues related to cataloging & metadata
education & training on behalf of Leibowitz, Faye R
Sent: Wed 3/12/2008 8:03 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [eduCAT] Ethics in Cataloging



It sometimes goes beyond "access" issues.

Many years ago, the Diversity Committee of the University Library System
at Pitt conducted focus groups for library users from a variety of
constituencies.

The major concern that arose during our meeting with GLBT library users
was cataloging-related. Several students were very angry and upset that
the library was shelving books about homosexuality near books about
prostitution. They believed that this indicated a negative bias against
them.

I explained to them that the LC classification system used by the
library reflected moral values that existed when the classification
system was developed around the turn of the 20th century. I indicated
that there were mechanisms in place at the Library of Congress to
suggest changes, and I gave them contact information for the Cataloging
Policy and Support Office. I don't know if any of them followed up by
contacting CPSO. This happened not too long after a major initiative by
Sanford Berman to have many offensive subject headings and
classification numbers changed.

I would never have known about the negative feelings generated by the
cataloging of this category of material had I not participated in the
focus group. There could be many other library users who never make
their feelings known, but stop coming to the library because they
consider it an unfriendly environment.

The first entry in the ALA Code of Ethics is:

        We provide the highest level of service to all library users
through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service
policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous
responses to all requests.

So trying to make our cataloging and classification systems free of bias
goes beyond access and extends to the more general concept of library
service.

Best wishes,

Faye R. Leibowitz
General Languages Team Leader
Catalog Management Unit
University Library System
University of Pittsburgh
[log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion List for issues related to cataloging & metadata
education & training [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Suzanne
Stauffer
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 7:07 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [eduCAT] Ethics in Cataloging

It depends on how you are defining "ethics." I would only see what you
describe as unethical if it were being done deliberately in order to
prevent a specific group of people from finding the information or to
prevent access to a specific class of information.

Suzanne M. Stauffer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Science Louisiana State University
275 Coates Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
(225)578-1461
Fax: (225)578-4581
[log in to unmask]

________________________________

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