Code of Ethics for Health Sciences Librarianship
Code of Ethics Overview
Task Force Drafts Code of Ethics
By Richard A. Lyders, AHIP
A code of ethics is a hallmark of any profession. Other library associations have recognized that without a code their professionalism could be questioned and thus have developed codes of ethics that reflect their particular perspectives on the information field. The MLA Board of Directors believes that health sciences librarians also face ethical issues unique to their discipline and that a code of ethics for health sciences librarianship is necessary.
In June 1992, then-President Jacqueline D. Bastille, AHIP, appointed an Ethics Task Force, charged with preparing a code of ethics for the profession and consisting of
The task force developed a first draft of the code in January 1993 and presented it to the membership at an Open Forum held during the 1993 Annual Meeting. This draft was put on the MEDLIB listserv in June and discussed at various fall MLA chapter meetings. The task force incorporated comments from these discussions into [a] draft, which was approved by the board at its midwinter meeting in February 1994. The code is scheduled for discussion and vote by the membership at Business Session I on Sunday, May 15, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m., at the 1994 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX.
A code of ethics should enable a health sciences librarian to say, "This is what my profession says I should do. This code gives me the ethical standards I need to enable me to determine the right thing to do in my practice." A code will not tell you the specifics of practice, however. It cannot give you a specific answer in a specific situation. But, it will give you an ethical standard to which you can hold your question, your ethical dilemma, your ethical difficulty, to help you decide how to act. Your conscience and your code should go hand in hand to help you determine how to practice your profession ethically.
The task force urges you to think about the code in these terms. In the April 1994 MLA News, the task force will explain certain words and phrases in the draft to further clarify the code.
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2010 March 30