CLA urges LAC to revisit its Code of Conduct

Today the Canadian Library Association released this statement:

(Ottawa, March 22, 2013) – The Canadian Library Association urges Library and Archives Canada to revisit its Code of Conduct in order to strike a more even balance between the duty of loyalty to the Government of Canada that all public services have and the freedom of expression that is imperative to the work of librarians in a strong democracy.

The LAC Code of Conduct: Values and Ethics restricts unnecessarily the ability of librarians and information professionals to perform key aspects of their work, namely teaching and speaking at conferences and other public engagements. The conditions placed upon those activities, and the categorization of those activities as ‘high risk,’ effectively eliminate the possibility that librarians may engage in essential elements of their work, elements that benefit both themselves and the greater professional community as well as the public good.

The language of the LAC Code also appears to infringe unnecessarily on the personal activities and opinions of public servants beyond the workplace. While we recognize a duty of loyalty to the Government of Canada and its elected officials, a reasonable balance must be maintained in recognizing that public servants also have a first duty of loyalty to Canadians at large.

The Canadian Library Association Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom states that both employees and employers in libraries have a duty, in addition to their institutional responsibilities, to uphold the principles of freedom of expression, including the responsibility “to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity.”

We recognize that, as public servants, LAC employees also have a duty to uphold the principles contained in the Government of Canada’s Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, including the duty to “use resources responsibly by acquiring, preserving and sharing knowledge and information.” If employees of Library and Archives Canada are unable to teach and to speak publicly, they are unable to perform their work as information professionals and as public servants.
A strong leadership role is expected of our national institution, including an expectation that LAC librarians participate in and contribute to innovation in the profession, in education, and in the field at large for the benefit of all Canadians. The professional expertise and leadership of LAC archivists and librarians are essential to national progress in making our documentary heritage accessible to all.

The Canadian Library Association urges Library and Archives Canada to revisit its Code of Conduct and to continue to encourage its employees to share their professional experience and professional expertise through teaching, speaking at conferences, and appearing at public engagements.

Pilar Martinez,
President, Canadian Library Association