Library Ethics and Principles

The universal mission of libraries is to provide equitable access to information and to facilitate and protect the right to freely pursue knowledge. Waterloo Region District School Board library programs, customer service standards, and procedures uphold the ethics and principles inherent in this mission, as well as the ethical guidelines of the organization.

This page explains these ethics and principles and our expectations for library practice.

Equity of Access

Equity of access is the founding principle of all libraries. Libraries exist, in large part, to give everyone in the community access to information and to reading, regardless of any barriers that may exist in their lives.

The public school system is itself an expression of equity of access to a quality education. School libraries, as part of the public school system, have a particular duty to provide information and service for all members of the school community.

Equity of access means that all people have the information they need-regardless of age, education, ethnicity, language, income, physical limitations or geographic barriers. It means they are able to obtain information in a variety of formats-electronic, as well as print. It also means they are free to exercise their right to know without fear of censorship or reprisal.

American Library Association, Equity of Access.

Intellectual Freedom

Our school libraries foster a culture of inquiry. Students are invited to explore ideas deeply and to consider diverse opinions. The principles of intellectual freedom are the foundation of collection development, the inquiry and research process, self-directed reading selection, and customer service standards in the library.

Selection of Educational Resources

All resources in all formats in WRDSB libraries are selected according to the principles in the board procedural document, Selection of Educational Resources, 2005. The principles for selection in this document are very inclusive, providing the foundation stimulating intellectual, social, cultural and personal growth. It is important to note in particular that the principles include the following statements about selection.

Collectively, such resources:

  • are representative of the many religious, ethnic and cultural groups and their contributions to our heritage;
  • are representative of the experiences and perspectives of individuals from diverse backgrounds, lifestyles and sexual orientation, and portray gender, cultural and racial inclusiveness;
  • reflect the Waterloo Region District School Board position on sex equity, race and ethno-cultural relations

De-Selection of Educational Resources

Secondary teacher-librarians and elementary digital literacy support teachers continually re-assess the relevance of resources in the library collection, de-selecting (weeding) resources that no longer meet criteria according to the principles and criteria expressed in the Selection of Educational Resources guideline document.

This continuous renewal cycle applies to all library resources in all formats – print, electronic, and multimedia.

At the discretion of the teacher-librarian or digital literacy support teacher, a small number of resources that are weeded from the library collection may be offered to another area of the school or to another school in the WRDSB.

Refer to the Weeding School Library Collections brochure for further details and information.

Privacy

Protecting the privacy of library users is a fundamental principle of library practice. Our libraries offer an opportunity for people to explore diverse ideas. Privacy is an essential element for protecting intellectual freedom. Library staff maintain the privacy of library users. This includes borrower records, personal information, and reading choices, in print or online.

Information Ethics

Information Ethics: The branch of ethics that focuses on the relationship between the creation, organization, dissemination, and use of information, and the ethical standards and moral codes governing human conduct in society.

Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science.

Because developing good research skills is the best deterrent to developing unethical information behaviours, the entire Learning section of this website provides a rich body of instructional resources.

The following specific links to this website are particularly useful for quick reference: