Records, Responsibility, and Power: An Overview of Cataloging Ethics


Author/Creator ORCID





Citation of Original Publication

Jennifer M. Martin (2021): Records, Responsibility, and Power: An Overview of Cataloging Ethics, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2020.1871458



Ethics are principles which provide a framework for making decisions that best reflect a set of values. Cataloging carries power, so ethical decision-making is crucial. Because cataloging requires decision-making in areas that differ from other library work, cataloging ethics are a distinct subset of library ethics. Cataloging ethics draw on the primary values of serving the needs of users and providing access to materials. Cataloging ethics are not new, but they have received increased attention since the 1970s. Major current issues in cataloging ethics include the creation of a code of ethics; ongoing debate on the appropriate role of neutrality in cataloging misleading materials and in subject heading lists and classification schemes; how and to what degree considerations of privacy and self-determination should shape authority work; and whether or not our current cataloging codes are sufficiently user-focused.