Class Week 8: Ethics and Workshop Prep

One of the parts of 643 I’ve been enjoying most is the “meta” nature of class–Kristin often teaches us by example, like using a Socratic seminar-style discussion to teach us how to do a Socratic seminar or book club. And the actual content of those discussions are still very relevant to class and are intriguing, complex examples. This week we began class by going over the one-shot workshop and trying to glean what makes a workshop bad or good. It was easier to pick out the bad traits than it was the good. I tried to think about what made the good workshops I’ve attended so good, and all I could come up with was that the instructors were confident, entertaining, and conveyed knowledge and passion for the material. They were also all relaxed and made me feel comfortable and OK with not knowing the answer to everything.

After that we discussed the ALA Code of Ethics, and whether we would change anything. Once again, as with other texts in this class, I got a little shot of motivation from reading the document; it gave me a feeling of affirmation to read about and feel more a part of my future profession and the way it functions. My small group really couldn’t find anything we wanted to change about the code of ethics. There were parts we felt were a bit… wishy washy, like the statement about being balanced between intellectual property rights holders and users. While I wish the ALA had taken a stronger stance on that, I also understand why it was worded that way. Perhaps in the next 10-15 years that part of the document will change. We moved on to discuss some ethical issues that have come up in the news recently. The Toronto Public Library was thinking about implementing two new features to deal with impending budget cuts from the city: one, selling advertisements and printing them on the back of date due receipts, and two, putting “buy this” links for books in their catalog (which would take them to a third-party vendor website). Both made me feel queasy. It was like a Would You Rather…? game, where neither option was appealing. Like I said in class, I feel that public libraries are a sort of haven, and shouldn’t be tainted by commercialism; perhaps the receipt ads would be better because they could feature local businesses, where the “buy this” link would be sending business outside of the community.

As I see several other bloggers in my cohort have already commented upon, I was also a bit disappointed that we didn’t discuss the Lenker reading that had the case studies on ethics and “dangerous questions”. I wanted to hear what others had to think about his use of case studies, his approach using the value ethics model, and his rather abrupt way of ending the article–that Lenker would be happy if all it could do was elicit “sophisticated confusion” for LIS student readers. Both the content and the context of the article were worth unpacking. On the other hand, I like that it brought us together in even deeper discussion in our mini blogosphere!

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3 thoughts on “Class Week 8: Ethics and Workshop Prep

  1. I’m still surprised at the different reaction that the class had towards the receipt vs buy now button than my small group had. We felt much more comfortable with the buy now button. I think this is a really good reminder for me that my “gut” feeling may not always be the same reaction that my colleagues or library patrons may have.

    I was glad that I was not the only one who was a little disappointed about not having a discussion about the Lenker article. But I’m also glad that we were able to discuss the issues that were bothering us or ideas that struck us in our blog cohort.

  2. You’ve got me curious….what stronger stance would you like the ALA to take on intellectual property rights?

    I agree about your comparison to the “Would You Rather?” game. Unfortunately, I think that’s a game we’re going to be playing for a while unless there are significant changes in the economy or budget situations for libraries. The only difference to real libraries is that they have more options, such as stepping up efforts to solicit private donations and cutting hours.

  3. I also really like how Kristen incorporates lessons on how how to do assignments throughout her lectures! Queasy is the right word for the Toronto Public Library examples. There was a lot of unsettling hypotheticals that were brought up in discussion about both these examples. I didn’t really have a problem with the ‘buy’ option at first, but after discussing it in class, I started to change my mind!

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