December 12, 2011

USC SLIS Hooding Ceremony Address

Today I gave the hooding ceremony address for the USC School of Library and Information Science. Here's the speech! Enjoy :-)

December 2011 USC/SLIS Hooding Ceremony Speech

Welcome family, friends, faculty, and staff, and congratulations to all those being hooded and to all of those who are graduating from the USC School of Library and Information Science.

According to the US Census S.1501 Educational Attainment table for the Nation from 2005-2009, the percent of population age 25 and over holding a graduate or professional degree was 10.1%. 

When I narrowed my search to South Carolina, the percent went down to 8.2.  That certainly puts you into a unique category and you should all give yourselves a big round of applause for your accomplishments!

The only requirement I was given for this speech was to keep it brief. So I thought I would send you off with these thoughts I have on the American Library Association’s Librarian’s code of ethics. Now you’re thinking, “oh how boring is this going to be” but let me assure you, these are the guiding principles you will find yourselves referring to throughout your career and they will come in handy in many situations. 

According to the American Library Association’s web site, “The principles of this Code are expressed in broad statements to guide ethical decision making. These statements provide a framework; they cannot and do not dictate conduct to cover particular situations.”  HOWEVER, I have a few little stories to tell that go along with some of these Codes to help put them into context.  I don’t have a story for each one, but I do think that each one provides a special lesson.

1.                 We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.

When I worked at the Charleston County Public Library, a patron called the reference desk and asked to have The Bridges of Marion County and The Penguin Brief put on hold for her.  Knowing it was The Bridges of Madison County and The Pelican Brief, I just told her I’d be happy to. 

Lesson one: be nice to your users.

2.                 We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.

I have sat in on book selection meetings for a number of years, and many times, titles get thrown around, and, depending on the review being good, we’d purchase the book in question for the collection.  Some of you will unfortunately have to deal with book challenges from parents.  But, we have to keep in mind the community of users we serve and serve everyone who is a part of that community. There may be a book title you personally don’t like but you may still need to add it to your collection.

Lesson two: be open-minded

3.                 We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.

Lesson three: don’t be nosey or talk about your patron’s requests to other patrons.

4.                 We respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.

Lesson four: when it comes to copyright questions, use common sense if you have it, if you don’t, ask someone who does.

5.                 We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness, and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.

Lesson five is The Law of Two Feet: If you find yourself neither learning nor contributing, it is your responsibility to respectfully use your own two feet to find some place you are learning or contributing.

6.                 We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.

Lesson six: don’t sell your library’s books on eBay.  You’ll get arrested.

7.                 We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.

Lesson 7:  your users have the right to receive unbiased information to make personal and professional decisions. You want to avoid imposing your personal beliefs on the information your users seek.

8.                 We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

Lesson 8: continue to learn and most of all in this fast paced world of mobile computing and apps, keep up!

Each of you has gone through a lot to get to this stage in your academic career and it could not have happened without your instructors, professors, and staff of the USC School of Library and Information Science who have helped you every step along the way. I’d like for the faculty and staff to stand now and be recognized.

Thank you for listening and for most of you not falling asleep.  I wish each of you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.

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