LIS 600: Foundations in Library and Information Studies
Library Science is a profession devoted to one thing: information. As information takes many forms, so do libraries, the people who work in them, and the ways in which information can be collected, organized, accessed, and disseminated. I consider myself to be a seeker of information, and I place huge emphasis on being able to find the answers to others’ questions. I also possess a strong drive to serve others. Library and Information Science combines these needs into one field.
Upon first encountering the field I thought nothing could be better than archiving—collecting old materials, repairing them, preparing them for future use, and sharing them with others. Now, having worked in a public library for a couple years and having learned more about the different types of libraries, I have realized that although archiving is definitely an interesting profession and one which serves humanity in its own right, being able to serve individuals is more rewarding to me.
One of the first things we learn as LIS students is Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science:
These have had a profound effect by deepening my personal feelings regarding the profession of Library Science. These laws speak to the very heart of the profession. It is all too easy to forget why libraries exist, or to become frustrated by the daily tasks of the profession, but by reminding myself of these laws, I remind myself of my purpose and of the larger purpose of the library to society. Above all else, these laws remind me that respect is essential to being a good librarian.
Many of my beliefs toward issues within the field stem from Ranganathan’s Five Laws. These Five Laws are echoed in the principles and guidelines endorsed by professional associations, and provide a strong foundation for deliberation upon many of these issues.
One such issue is that of intellectual freedom. In this I believe that we should protect the rights of all individuals to access information. We should resist censorship in all of its forms through unbiased selection, unfiltered and unrestricted access, and free access to materials and the internet. By presenting all views in context, we can allow patrons to make the most informed decisions. Additionally, service should never be predicated by age, gender, race, class, etc.
The public library serves a variety of needs for the public, informational, cultural, educational, recreational, such that no patron or need is worth more or less than another. Because the library is charged with these tasks, it must seek to understand the community it serves. Therefore it is important that the community of librarians, staff, and volunteers represent the interests of the community which it serves.
There are a variety of characteristics I feel are important to serving the public. I feel that it is important to have an understanding of customer service, and a commitment to being an effective communicator. Additionally, it is important to think creatively, in order to develop services for the community, but also to be able to resolve the many funding, personnel, and professional struggles that arise in the changing information environment.
Finally, and most importantly, I feel it important to possess a strong sense of professional ethics. The American Libraries Association (ALA) Code of Ethics provides guidelines for librarians regarding such difficult issues as censorship, access, and privacy. Accordingly, we should protect our patrons’ rights to accessing information by resisting censorship, which limits access to information, protect their privacy from outside agencies, and protect the library.
Often there is ambiguity when situations arise as to whose rights we should put first. Although I respect the various points of the ALA Code of Ethics, which generally places the rights of patrons’ first, I understand that sometimes this may result in more harm being placed upon other patrons, the library, or some portion of society. Therefore, I believe that these costs and particularly preserving the good of society must be considered.
These qualities reflect my commitment to the field of library science, and particularly service to the public. Professionally, I strive to give the best possible service in light of competing demands of the inner working environment, outer community, and the space in between—the space I create for the patrons. Personally, I strive to acquire the tools to do so.