Ethics for Public Library Trustees


Ethics Statement for Public Library Trustees

“Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees; and both the trust and trustees are created for the benefit of the people.” - Henry Clay, Kentucky speech (1879)

Trustees, in the capacity of trust upon them, shall observe ethical standards with absolute truth, integrity, and honor.

Trustees must promote a high level of library service while observing ethical standards.

Trustees must avoid situations in which personal interests might be served or financial benefits gained at the expense of library customers, colleagues, or the institution.

It is incumbent upon any trustee to disqualify one’s self immediately whenever the appearance of a conflict of interest exists.

Trustees must distinguish clearly in their actions and statements between their personal philosophies and attitudes and those of the institution, acknowledging the formal position of the board even if they personally disagree.

A trustee must respect the confidential nature of library business while being aware of and in compliance with applicable laws governing freedom of information.

A trustee must be prepared to support to the fullest the efforts of librarians in resisting censorship of library materials by groups or individuals.

Trustees who accept appointment to a library board are expected to perform all the functions of library trustees.

–Developed and adopted by
Board of Directors of the American Library Trustee Association, July 1985,
Adopted by the Board of the Directors of the Public Library Association, July 1985,
Amended by the Board of the Directors of the American Library Trustee Association, July 1988,
and Approval of amendment by the Public Library Association of the American Library Association, January,1989.