Ethics Paper: On Access

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Access Defined

Access is defined in libraries by the American Library Association (ALA) Code of Ethics, the ALA Library Bill of Rights, and a number of interpretations of the Bill of Rights issued by the ALA.  Access inhabits the region where intellectual freedom and service intersect, in that it concerns applying intellectual freedom principles to the deployment of libraries’ resources and to shaping service to enable maximal use of those resources.  Aspects of access are often defined in opposition to barriers to access; librarians are charged with overcoming, eliminating, or reducing physical, societal, procedural, and economic elements that hinder users’ information seeking (Rubin, 2004, pp. 45-47).  Conceptually, access can be broken down into two categories: equity of access and access to information.  “Equity of access means that all people have the information they need-regardless of age, education, ethnicity, language, income, physical limitations or geographic barriers” (American Library Association, 2010).  The other half of the equation is access to information—what information does the library make available to users?

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