Ethics and Information Ethical principles of the library and information professionals


Issued by BID - Federal Union of German Library and Information Associations
(Last updated: 19 March 2007)

The BID is the umbrella organization of library and related
institutions and personnel federations, and advocates the interests of
its members.
Library and information professionals in the member associations act
according to ethical principles establishing codes of conduct to become
part of the professional identity. Library and information professionals
do not get professionally involved with organizations whose activities
and goals contradict those ethical principles.

The BID and its member associations are committed to work according
to those ethical principles. This can be achieved through continuous
information, professional education and training, cooperation with
related organizations, and through reacting publicly to known breaches
of those principles. The members of the BID declare those ethical
principles within the profession and the general public.

1. Ethical principles: client services

  • We serve all of our clients equally in accordance with our
    mandate and legal bases. We offer high quality services to all of our
  • We provide our clients access to our holdings and publicly accessible information resources.
  • We inform and advise our clients objectively, impartially and
    courteously, and assist them in retrieving the information they need.
  • We treat all our clients with equal respect, regardless of
    their origin, race, age, social status, creed, gender or sexual
  • We observe the principles of barrier free accessibility.
  • We protect children and youths from contents unsuitable for
    them according to the Young Persons Protection Act and other legal
  • We respect our clients' privacy. Personal data will be saved
    only to ensure service delivery and only within the legal framework. We
    will share personal data with other institutions only as required by
  • We perform our duties in a professional manner regardless of our personal opinion and view.

2. Ethical principles: other services

  • We encourage the shaping of opinion and the free flow of
    information as well as the existence of libraries and information
    services to facilitate free access to all kinds of information resources
    provided by our democratic society. We reject censorship of content.
  • We protect our cultural heritage according to the libraries' collecting mandate.
  • We support science and research by providing information,
    resources and related services. We also promote the freedom of science
    and research.
  • We are committed to the principle of lifelong learning in order
    to improve our own competence and the competence of all members of the
    public. In this context we see ourselves in a continual improvement
    process to optimize services for our clients.
  • We organize events to promote reading and the active use of information, alone and in cooperation with partners.
  • Our relationship with suppliers and other business partners is based on a high ethical standard.
  • We choose information resources exclusively according to
    objective criteria, their quality and their suitability to meet the
    needs of our clients regardless of personal preferences and influences
    of third parties. Our reference services and professional competence
    guarantee access to all information resources.
  • We actively advertise our services and facilities to the
    members of the public to make them aware of all means of access to
    public information.
  • We provide information on the internet as data and full-texts within the legal limits to increase accessibility.
  • We recognize the rights of creators and copyright holders of copyright-protected library and information material.
  • We apply our professional competence to preserve heritage holdings for future generations.
  • We treat our colleagues with fairness and respect, and promote a culture of cooperation, responsible acting and mutual trust.
  • Professional independence, respect, fairness, willingness to
    cooperate and critical loyalty define our interactions with our
    superiors and superior authorities.

Barbara Lison
Spokesperson of the BI
Leipzig, March 19, 2007

(Translated from German by Maria Reinhard April 2007)

FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression)

Last update: 5 October 2012