Magazine article Information Today

Libraries in the Digital Age 2001

Magazine article Information Today

Libraries in the Digital Age 2001

Article excerpt

This conference addressed ethics and information services issues

The third Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) conference was held May 23-25 at the Interuniversity Centre in Dubrovnik, Croatia, with a dual theme of The Internet: Ethics and Legal Issues and Information Services--Practice and Research. The conference's co-directors were Tatjana Aparac Jelusic, from the Department of Information Sciences' Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Zagreb in Croatia; Tefko Saracevic, from the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey; and Rafael Capurro, from the University of Applied Sciences in Stuttgart, Germany. Eighty-two people attended the eight workshops, with two tutorials and 20 papers presented by representatives from nine countries.

As at the past two conferences, Saracevic supplied the opening remarks. "The purpose of LIDA is to address the changing and challenging environment for libraries and information systems and services in the digital age, with emphasis on examining contemporary problems, advances, and solutions ... and how to change for the better," he said. "What do libraries do in the digital environment ... and what does the digital world actually do to libraries?"

The major impact of the digital age, Saracevic said, is that libraries are being affected through evolution, which changes the nature of collection (he then asked "what is a collection now?"), access, services, cooperation, and management. This requires a new set of competencies built on traditional values.

Ethics in Information

Capurro introduced the conference theme in his presentation "Ethics and Information in the Digital Age." He said, "Digital libraries belong to an emerging digital culture." He traced the concept of ethics back to Aristotle and discussed information ethics within the context of culture, economics, and technology. He, as did other speakers on the topic, linked the current thinking on ethics in the information field to the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html). Capurro noted that the Internet's International Center for Information Ethics (http://v.hbi-stuttgart.de/[sim]capurro/icie-index.html) offers a forum for information as well as communication about such issues.

Thomas J. Froehlich, from the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University in Ohio, presented "Ethical Principles and Their Application to Library and Information Work." He also opened his comments with a reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and emphasized the importance of this document within the field of information ethics. He outlined ethical principles such as freedom of self-determination, equality of opportunity, privacy, and recognition for one's work.

During his subsequent presentation, "Copyright and Fair Use: Fair Use as a Right?" Froehlich further developed ethical questions concerning copyright, noting differences (as did other speakers) in Anglo-American, European, and Asian concepts of intellectual property.

The movement from religion to morals to ethics to law provided the framework for "Moral Perspectives in Digital Libraries," a presentation given by the University of Oklahoma's Wallace Koehler. He said, "From one perspective, ethics, morals, and legal norms differ from one another in the degree to which they are formalized and [in] the form[s] that sanctions, if any, are applied." Intellectual property was given as a "good example," with contrasts between the Anglo-American, European, and Asian views.

Quoting the National Research Council report The Digital Dilemma: intellectual Property in the information Age, Koehler noted: "In cultural/social systems, as in China and other Asian countries, artistic and intellectual products are part of the social fabric. No single person therefore 'owns' ideas or expressions since the individual is merely a conduit for the artistic and intellectual expression of the community. …

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