Ethical and Social Issues

Everything's got a moral, if you can only find it. —Lewis Carroll

Ethics Update designed primarily to be used by ethics instructors and their students. It is intended to provide resources and updates on current literature, both popular and professional, that relates to ethics. Thanks to Judith Turner for the heads-up on this site.

Ethics, Accountability and Recordkeeping in a Dangerous World, by Richard Cox, Facet Publishing, London, 2006, pp. 352. Richard Cox, Professor, Archival Studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences and editor of Records and Information Management Report (RIMR),  This most recent book by one of the most distinguished and prolific educators, authors and editors in the field of archives and records management ties together two distinct but highly related topics of ethics and accountability as they impinge on the practice of recordkeeping. Read the Table of Contents and Chapter Four, "America's Pyramids: Presidents and Their Libraries," an assessment of the history and development of presidential libraries that concludes with a most provocative proposal for re-centralization of presidential libraries in a single presidential library in or near Washington, D.C. under NARA. (An earlier version of this chapter previously appeared in Government Information Quarterly 19 (2002) 45-75.)  

Topics critical to the recordkeeping practice include:     

    *   From accountability to ethics, or when do records professionals become  whistleblowers? 
     *   Testing the spirit of the information age 
     *   Searching for authority: archivists and electronic records in the new world at the fin-de-sičcle 
     *   Searching for recognition: does strategic information have ARMs? 
     *   Why the nomination of the Archivist of the United States is important to  records professionals and society 
     *   America's pyramids: Presidents and their libraries 
     *   The world is a dangerous place: recordkeeping in the age of terror 
     *   Technology, the future of work, and records professionals 
     *   Records and truth in the post-truth society 
     *   Censorship and records 
     *   Personal notes: intellectual property, technology, and unfair stories

Richard Cox's 2006 rejoinder to the controversy over the "Sun Mad Raisins" cover, American Archivist cover (Vol. 66, No. 2, Fall/Winter 2003).  See also commentary by Bruce Buemmer's  "Brown Shoes in a World of Tuxedos: Corporate Archives and the Archival Profession."

"Brown Shoes in a World of Tuxedos: Corporate Archives and the Archival Profession,"  by Bruce Bruemmer, Director of Corporate Archives, Cargill, Inc.,  a presentation at the 2006 joint annual conference of the National Association of Government Archivists and Records Administrators (NAGARA), the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) and Society of American Archivists (SAA) in Washington, D.C. The paper is an abbreviated version of a chapter that will appear in Documenting Society and Institutions, Essays in Honor of Helen Samuels, Terry Cook, editor, planned for publication in 2007. It includes a discussion of business recordkeeping ethics and rejoinder to Richard Cox's commentary  in the American Archivist, Vol. 68, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2005 on the earlier American Archivist "Sun Mad Raisin" cover issue. See also, Richard Cox's rejoinder to the controversy. 

Ethics and the Archival Profession: Introduction and Case Studies,  by Karen Benedict, a book review by Rick Barry for the American Archivist.

"Ethics and Social Issues for Creators, Managers and Users of Records," by Rick Barry, a keynote presentation at the Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies (LUCAS) Conference on "Political Pressure and the Archival Record," July 24, 2003. The proceedings of this conference have been published in Political Pressure and the Archival Record. See publication details for a commentary by Eric Ketelaar, Professor of Archivistics, University of Amsterdam, and Honorary Professor, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

"Keeping the record, keeping the trust" by Rick Barry originally published in the January, 2000, Newsletter of the British Society of Archivists. This is about a few of the social, human factors and ethical issues – let us say 'social issues' for short – of some millennial proportion that are bearing down on ARM professionals: privacy and the sale of public records; public alienation from government; and the role of ARM professionals in ethical violations. 

"Thinking about accountability, recordkeeping and Shelley Davis' Unbridled Power : a commentary", by Rick Barry.  A new look at a fascinating book, Unbridled Power:  Inside the Secret Culture of the IRS, by Shelley L. Davis originally published as a book review by Rick Barry and later developed by him in this essay raising questions for the archives and records management community, policy makers and society.

Archives and the Public Good, Richard Cox, Professor, Archival Studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences and David Wallace, Assistant Professor at the School of Information, University of Michigan. Editors,  Greenwood Press, 2002. Read the Table of Contents and the Introduction; and read about the many outstanding Contributors to this book. This book should be required reading for all educators and students of archives and records management, and for executives who want to avoid ruin over absent or misused records. 

"Former President Giuliani and His Library?" by Richard Cox This op-ed piece was submitted by Richard Cox to the New York Times, which, regrettably, did not publish the piece. It constitutes an excellent commentary on the importance of the public records of elected officials.

The ABA's Formal Opinion 06-442 on reading metadata in electronic documents: summary, by John Wesley Hall. Provides ethical guidance on reading metadata in electronic documents provided by one's opponent.

Political Pressure and the Archival Record Revisited: "The Role of the Archives in Protecting the Record from Political Pressure," by Chris Hurley. This is an August 2004 reprise and update of a paper originally presented at the LUCAS Conference in Liverpool, July 2003. It was presented to the  ICA 2004 - Archives, Memory & Knowledge, Conference, August 25, 2004.

 “Recordkeeping, Document Destruction, and the Law (Heiner, Enron, and McCabe)” by Chris Hurley. This paper on legal and ethical issues surrounding the improper destruction of records is a revised version of an article that originally appeared in Archives & Manuscripts in the issue for November 2002 (Vol. 30, No. 2) pp. 6 - 25.  Hurley was awarded the Michael Standish Prize by the Archives & Records Association of New Zealand (ARANZ) for this paper.  

 "The role of the archives in protecting the record from political pressure," by Chris Hurley, keynote presentation to the Liverpool University International Conference on Political Pressure and the Archival Record, 22-25 July 2003 and to be published in the forthcoming Proceedings of that conference by the Society of American Archivists.

Computer & Information Ethics, by Marsha Cook Woodbury, PhD, Stipes Publishing, Champaign, IL, 2002, ISBN 1-58874-155-9. Marsha is a faculty member of the Department of Computer Science of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and is a former board member of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. Read the Table of Contents and Introduction. "Technology is driving the future: Who is doing the steering?...Taking time to think about computer and information ethics will not supply set answers to the choices we have to make, but it will prod us to reflect, ponder, evaluate, learn, and cogitate."  This book should be required reading for all educators and students of information management, including archives and records management, and for current practitioners such as CIOs, CTOs, IT Directors and the people who work for them.

For analysis of the Australian "Heiner Case" that is discussed in several of the above papers, see details on the Justice Project.

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