Ethics Policy

Public service is a public trust.  As a publicly funded institution, the Smyth County Public Library (SCPL), its employees, Trustees, and volunteers have an obligation to ensure that all library business is conducted according to accepted standards of government ethics.  This policy provides a statement of the standards for public libraries that SCPL will apply to its operations.

Transparency is a critical element of government ethics to ensure that every citizen can have complete confidence in the integrity of SCPL.  It is the intent of the Smyth County Public Library Board of Trustees that the Library be as transparent as possible in all of its dealings.  It is important for the library’s credibility with the public that the Library, its staff, Trustees, and volunteers avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest. 

SCPL staff members significantly influence or control the selection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information. In a political system that depends on an informed citizenry, we are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information. We have a special obligation to ensure the free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations.

The principles of this policy are expressed in broad statements to guide ethical decision making. These statements provide a framework; they cannot dictate conduct to cover particular situations.

  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.
  2. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
  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.
  4. We respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.
  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.
  6. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or the Library.
  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 the Library or the provision of access to our information resources.
  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.

Approved by the Smyth County Public Library Board of Trustees on April 20, 2023.  This policy will be reviewed no later than April 2027 or earlier if necessary.

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