Handbook for Librarians & Professional and Administrative Staff in the Harvard University Library

Professionalism and career development

Rights and Responsibilities of Harvard Librarians

The central functions of an academic community are learning, teaching, research, and scholarship. By accepting membership in the University, an individual joins a community ideally characterized by free expression, free inquiry, intellectual honesty, respect for the dignity of others, and openness to constructive change. The rights and responsibilities exercised within the community must be compatible with these qualities.

The following statement was adopted by the Harvard University Librarians' Assembly in May 1976.

    In order to exercise their professional responsibilities, Harvard librarians must keep themselves informed about University affairs and policies, and particularly should be aware of matters relating to the educational and scholarly programs dependent upon library support and policies that affect the work and the role of librarians within the University. Librarians also have a responsibility to participate wherever appropriate and whenever possible in University activities relating to their areas of concern and whenever possible to participate in the discussion and resolution of problems that affect the status of librarians and the place of the library within the University community. To the extent that librarians are expected to participate in Library and University decision-making, there is a need for access at the earliest possible time to all information relevant to such questions.

Professional Ethics Statement by the American Library Association
Since 1939, the American Library Association has recognized the importance of codifying and making known to the public and the profession the principles that guide librarians in action. The latest edition of the Code of Ethics reflects changes in the nature of the profession and in its social and institutional environment. Also see the University-wide Statement on Rights and Responsibilities.

Last modified on Thursday, April 18, 2002.