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The teacher librarian must be prepared to address many controversial issues.

issuesA parent wants me to remove a book she find offensive. What should I do?

A teacher wants me to record a television show. Is this legal?

How do I deal with censorship in my library media center?

These topics deal with common legal and ethical issues facing teacher librarians. School libraries are influenced by many laws and regulations. The decisions you make reflect your personal and professional perspectives and philosophies.

eye means readRead Butler, R. P. (2005). The School Librarian and On-the-Job Ethics (PDF document, Access requires Login). Knowledge Quest33(5), 33-34.

eye means readAlso investigate: Intellectual Property & Copyright.
Next week you will move on to cover:
1) Intellectual Freedom
2) Rights of Library Users
3) Internet Access & Filtering Issues

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What are your perspectives and philosophies?

Self-knowledge is critical to a library media professional. You need to know yourself and your bias. Your values can influence your decisions. Your personal stand on issues such as abortion, capital punishment, or drug abuse can have an impact on everything from the materials you select to the topics you use as examples.

Your personal preferences such as your love of picture books or poetry can affect your buying decisions.

Your political interests such as your views on the environment, war, or democracy may impact the collaborative activities you choose with teachers.

Your religious background such as your stand on stem cell research or perspective on history can impact your selection choices.

Your subject area strengths such as your dislike of math or science can impact the time your spend collaborating on projects with teachers in these areas.

Your educational philosophy such as your love of reading or belief in constructivism will impact your center program.

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What topics trigger a reaction for you?

A "hot-button" issue is a topic that gets people talking, discussing, and sometimes yelling. Whether teachers are assigning projects on social issues or students are making choices about leisure reading, these "hot-button" topics often emerge. If you get uncomfortable when facing an issue, then you probably have a strong personal perspective. You need to be aware of those things that trigger this reaction. For some people, it's the Sports Illustrated swim suit issue. For others, it's the topics covered in Seventeen magazine. Or, your stand on gun control could impact your selection or lack of selection related to particular titles in this area.

In addition to "hot button" issues, you also need to consider your interests. If you don't have a particular interest in fantasy, humor, or romance, you may overlook good materials that might appeal to some young readers. For example, graphic novels are very popular with young adults, but may be something you've never experienced. You may not like hunting, but many of your students may be into deer hunting and fishing.

In some cases, you've probably developed bias based on very little evidence. For example, some people will say they don't like audio books. However it's possible they've never listened to one or didn't like the one they tried years ago. This is like saying you don't read because you found one book boring.

eye means readRead the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association (1939, Jan. 2008). Website is supplement to (2010) Intellectual Freedom Manual (8th Ed.).

Also read Simpson, Carol (2004). School Library Ethics--A Battle of Hats (PDF document; Access requires login). Library Media Connection; 22(4), 22-23. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.
The American Library Association (ALA) has established a code of ethics. Teachers have their own codes of ethics; another mantle of ethical responsibilities. Combine that with personal and religious ethical values to give a melting pot of behaviors that may be in conflict. Recognizes the reality that school librarians and librarians do not have a clear statement with regard to ethics in the professions.

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Check Your Understanding

Create a list of your "hot button" topics. What do you think triggers these reactions?

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Make It Real

student with computerYou've taken a new job in the mid-year. After a couple weeks on the job, a box arrives from Follett containing items purchased by the previous media specialist before leaving. As you open the box, some of the titles catch your eye.

Do you think your personal stance would have an impact on the way you'd handle the materials?

Discuss your initial reaction.

Select at least three and discuss why they drew your attention.

eye means readSocial networking has become an issue in many schools. Read Carl Anderson's guest posting at Blue Skunk Blog: (Sept 2010) Social Networking Scenarios - Carl's Take.

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Read More About It

Blansett, J. (2008). Digital DiscriminationLibrary Journal133(13), 26-29.
Article discusses the development of Internet accessibility standards that mitigate print disabilities in the presentation of digital resources.

Menefee, M. (2009). The Changing LibraryAmerican School Board Journal196(8), 32-35.

Everhart, N., & Frazer, M. (2006). Research into PracticeKnowledge Quest35(1), 58-63.

Simpson, C. (2004). Should I or Shouldn't I? An Ethical ConundrumLibrary Media Connection23(2), 18-21.

Valenza, J., & Johnson, D. (2009). Things That Keep Us Up at NightSchool Library Journal,55(10), 28-32.


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