Statement on Professional Ethics (1975)


American Library Association


History of the Code of Ethics: 1975 and 1979 Drafts from American Libraries

Date Approved: 

April 1975

Other Versions: 

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Statement on Professional Ethics, 1975 Introduction

The American Library Association has a special concern for the free flow of information and ideas. Its views have been set forth in such policy statements as the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement where it has said clearly that In addition to the generally accepted legal and ethical principles and the respect for intellectual freedom which should guide the action of every citizen, membership in the library profession carries with It special obligations and responsibilities.

Every citizen has the right as an individual to take part in public debate or to engage In social and political activity. The only restrictions on these activities are those imposed by specific and well-publicized laws and regulations which are generally applicable. However, since personal views and activities may be Interpreted as representative of the institution In which a librarian is employed, proper precaution should be taken to distinguish between private actions and those one is authorized to take in the name of an Institution.

The statement which follows sets forth certain ethical norms which, while not exclusive to, are basic to librarianship. It will be augmented by explanatory interpretations and additional statements as they may be needed.


The Statement

A Librarian

  • Has a special responsibility to maintain the principles of the Library Bill of Rights.
  • Should learn and faithfully execute the policies of the Institution of which one Is a part and should endeavor to change those which conflict with the spirit of the Library Bill of Rights.
  • Must protect the essential confidential relationship which exists between a library user and the library.
  • Must avoid any possibility of personal financial gain at the expense of the employing institution.
  • Has an obligation to insure equality of opportunity and fair judgment of competence in actions dealing with staff appointments, retentions, and promotions.
  • Has an obligation when making appraisals of the qualifications of any individual to report the facts clearly, accurately,. and without prejudice, according to generally accepted guidelines concerning the disclosing of personal information.

AMERICAN LIBRARIES April 1975 Vol. 6, No. 4