Library School – Data, Law and Ethics module

I took this module last autumn, one of the last two of the PG Dip. For my general post about my librarianship course, go here.

I had really high hopes for this module. I thought we’d get into all kinds of meaty issues I was really interested in like privacy, surveillance and censorship. We did address these issues and others, but at a very high, broad-brush level. The module had to cram a lot in, so I felt I got an overview of the main issues but little to no in-depth engagement. It also placed a big emphasis on legal frameworks so we covered a lot of laws and government policy which was fairly dry. I would have appreciated learning about a law, say the Copyright, Design and Patents Act (1988) and then delving into a relevant example that raised all sorts of uncomfortable questions and applications. There were some attempts to engage via activities you were supposed to do which were helpful, but I felt this classes’ subject matter would work better in an in-person context where you can have discussions.

The module was structured as a series of workbooks that we worked through with some discussion board posting online. There were two assignments to complete. One was a discussion board post on a legal case or area of legislation and the other was a topical essay or critical analysis of journal articles. I would have loved to do the essay, but in the end time pressure forced me to do the article review because I knew I wouldn’t have time do all the reading I wanted to for the essay. One of the articles on the approved list was about the library’s role in disaster preparedness and looked at how libraries met people’s needs after Hurricane Katrina in 2010 on the Gulf Coast (Braquet, 2010). This was obviously of personal interest to me (here’s my Katrina post) and I found that the study and others on this topic showed that libraries basically kept on doing what they do best in the midst of terrible situations, viz. providing quality information, internet access and a safe space for all. This was of great value to those communities and of course is now a major talking point on the value of libraries. See for instance this article about Baltimore public libraries remaining open during the riots last year.

Reference:

Braquet, D. M. (2010) ‘Library experiences of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans flood survivors’, Libres Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 20(1), pp. 1-23. Available at: http://libres.curtin.edu.au/ (Accessed: 7 Dec 2015).

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