Monday, January 21, 2013

More Ethical Scenarios for Youth Librarians

Last week, we talked about sticky situations youth librarians can find themselves in. If you'd like to read through all the responses, I've published it as a web page. I would have done a PDF, but there were 31 responses (thank you!) and it was an obscene amount of paper. I found it easier to read all the responses to the first question and then scroll back up to the top to read the second set of answers, and so on.

There were so many interesting dilemmas suggested, that I'm back with a much longer survey. I made some of the ones that seemed "yes/no" into multiple choice questions. You can elaborate in the comments, at the end, if you wish to explain an answer.

Take the follow-up survey here! As before, no identifying information is requested. Responses will be identified by a date/time stamp. None of the questions are "required." I will post the results in the same format as the previous version's. I will leave the survey open until at least Thursday. I'll post the results in a new post (and will have more scenarios if more are suggested). 

To summarize answers briefly: 
There were some very good answers for Scenario #1, which was about a parent asking if The Hunger Games was suitable for an 8 year old, so I'd read those.

The second question about whether you would allow a teenager to check out 50 Shades of Gray was unanimously answered yes. Answers were more split about whether you would discuss the contents of the book for the teen (and a few people pointed out how easily that one can be confused with a legitimate YA book's title).  A few people mentioned that they didn't think everyone in their library would be as willing to check 50 Shadows out to minors. One person mentioned that they were having a staff meeting because of this exact issue.

The third question, about accepting gifts from patrons, was the most split. I was surprised by how many libraries don't allow gifts! My library's "gifts" policy only covers gifts/donations to the library itself. Personally, I'd accept a gift card, on behalf of the library, but use it for a summer reading prize. It's probably obvious that I was the inspiration for the baby clothes part of that question, and, yes, I did accept that gift. Actually it was accepted on my behalf, because it was dropped off on my day off from a patron I am quite close to. I wonder if the libraries that are stricter about this sort of thing are departments of their city or county? My public library is an independent entity, but I could see how there would be more potential for ethical lapses when you're dealing with huge government contracts.

Here are my favorite things people said in their responses:

  • "I am knowledgeable about the book [contents], not the child" 
  • "...If your parents aren't comfortable with you reading those books, I never saw you."
  • "I read some inappropriate stuff when I was younger and I turned out just fine." 
  • In my mind, gift card equals money and I've had patrons offer me "tips" or donations for all the good work I do. (Yes, I do amazing work!) (Ed note: I love this one because I think we are far too humble in our little corner of Library Land)