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Reference Services: Professional Ethics

Reference Librarians: We make your research easier & your results better!

Professional Ethics

ODU Library reference staff are guided by the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association, which promotes high service quality, patron privacy and confidentiality, intellectual freedom, freedom of access, intellectual property rights, and a patron's right to pursue information. At an academic institution, privacy and confidentiality, as well as information literacy and academic integrity are especially important, and as such are further addressed below.

Privacy & Confidentiality

All reference queries are considered confidential, and librarians respect the privacy rights of all patrons. Except in a professional context in discussion with other library staff, librarians who provide reference service will not discuss patron reference encounters with others. (Refer also to Electronic Queries for further information on the ethics of email and chat reference service and patron privacy.)

Information Literacy & Academic Integrity

While ODU librarians provide student-centered and patron-centered reference service, the librarians also recognize the importance of information literacy instruction in reference services at an academic institution. Librarians help educate patrons in the use of information resources, guided in part by the following:

Librarians are also obligated to hold to the highest ethics of academic integrity as defined by the University.

As a result, librarians will not:

  • Do student homework
  • Proofread student homework
  • Compile bibliographies for students
  • Provide formatted citations for students
  • Format student papers
  • Order library materials for students

Reference librarians would be happy to show students how to search and order library owned materials & non-library information sources and where to get help for citations, formatting, and bibliographies with the intent of encouraging and enabling students to learn how to master these skills.

See also  Our Policies for more details.