Professional Ethics Guidelines

SLA promotes the professional welfare of its members and the organizations and people they serve and fosters the global progress of the knowledge society. In an environment where concepts and practices of ethics and service continue to extend and expand, SLA members strive to implement and promote guidelines for the ethical and appropriate use of information and knowledge. Fundamental to these guidelines is the recognition that there are different kinds of information and knowledge, such as personally identifiable, proprietary, or classified information or public information pertaining to the actions of government. Also fundamental is a respect for a diversity of viewpoints, for cultural differences and for civil discourse.

SLA recognizes that ethical reflection is required in the application of these guidelines. In certain situations, ethical values may be in conflict or may demand that one ethical value take priority over another, especially given the diversity of SLA membership. For example, accountability to society or to the organization may trump the right to privacy or confidentiality.

SLA’s guidelines for professional conduct are positioned within various interacting value systems: basic human rights; organizational missions, goals, objectives and ethical codes; legal, cultural, societal and governmental norms; and personal ethical beliefs. The guidelines are intended to help SLA members frame ethical deliberation whenever professionally-related ethical problems arise.

SLA members foster the profession’s reputation for integrity, competence, diligence, honesty, discretion and confidentiality through creating and sustaining an environment that facilitates mutual trust among employers, clients or other individuals served, and the profession. They encourage the profession by sharing best practices, experiences and research. 

SLA professionals:
Act with honesty, fairness and in good faith in serving and providing value to their employers, clients, and vendors.

Provide their employer, organization, or clients with the highest level of service, by delivering the best sources and services possible within organizational constraints and by improving the quality of and adding value to the information and knowledge they provide.

Enhance employer success by contributing to the mission, goals, policies and strategies of the organization.

Respect the intellectual property of their employers, clients and competitors, and within the legal and ethical constraints of the organization, inform their clients or employers of potential legal and ethical violations in the provision of sources or services.

Honor the privacy, rights, and reputation of individuals and organizations in the proper use of information content regardless of format or medium, adhering to the best practices of ensuring confidentiality.

Strive for excellence by seeking and maintaining professional knowledge and competencies in intellectual and information technologies in themselves, their colleagues, their organization and other professionals, including education for information literacy.

Represent themselves accurately concerning their education, competencies and experience to their employers, clients, colleagues and other professionals.

Avoid conflicts of interest while in the performance of their work.

Prepared by the SLA Information Ethics Advisory Council
Toni Carbo, Thomas Froehlich, Louis-Rene Dessureault,
Jonathan Gordon-Till, Barbie Keiser, Barbara Wildemuth,
Deb Hunt and Carolyn Sosnowski
Approved by the SLA Board of Directors December 2010

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