ALA adopts new Code of Ethics principle on racial and social justice

For Immediate Release
Wed, 07/28/2021


Steve Zalusky

Communications Specialist

Communications and Marketing Office

American Library Association

CHICAGO – During the American Library Association (ALA) Annual and Exhibition virtual conference, the ALA Council unanimously adopted a new ninth principle on racial and social justice to the association's Code of Ethics. This new professional guideline illustrates ALA's continued commitment to providing library professionals with resources that promote equity within library service and librarianship.

The ninth principle was the product of work done by the Social and Racial Justice subgroup of the Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) in collaboration with groups within the ALA, including the Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Advisory Committee, the Committee on Diversity, and the Intellectual Freedom Committee. A draft of the principle was posted on ALA Connect (a forum for ALA members, sections, and roundtables to communicate with each other) so that members could provide feedback. All feedback was considered, and COPE members voted on the final draft of the proposed principle on May 11, 2021. This final draft was presented to the ALA Council by chair Stephen Matthews and passed unanimously during the Council III meeting of the ALA Annual Conference on June 29, 2021. 

“This addition to the ALA Code of Ethics supports the association’s mission to foster cultural understanding by providing library professionals with a professional framework that supports equity, diversity, and inclusion,” said ALA President Patty Wong. “On behalf of the ALA Executive Board, I would like to thank COPE, the ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Advisory Committee, the ALA Committee on Diversity, and ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee for their diligence, commitment, and dedication to ensuring that library service is equitable and available to all.”

The ninth principle within the ALA Code of Ethics reads:

“We affirm the inherent dignity and rights of every person. We work to recognize and dismantle systemic and individual biases; to confront inequity and oppression; to enhance diversity and inclusion; and to advance racial and social justice in our libraries, communities, profession, and associations through awareness, advocacy, education, collaboration, services, and allocation of resources and spaces.”

The ALA Code of Ethics translates the values of intellectual freedom that define the profession of librarianship into broad principles and provides a framework for library professionals dealing with situations involving ethical conflicts. The addition of the principle codifies the library and information services profession’s commitment to racial and social justice and further emphasizes diversity and inclusion as one of the profession’s core values.

The ALA Code of Ethics and supplementary documents can be found on the ALA website.

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library's role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all.