At the crossroads: International academy adopts resolutions on ethics and openness

lrwagranada.jpg International leaders met at the crossroads of culture and tradition in Granada, Spain, on April 27 and 28 to discuss the future of library and information science education, which are facing a crossroads of their own.

Adopting Thomas Jefferson’s pledge of “Eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man” as its motto, the Louis Round Wilson Academy approved its first general resolutions (statements) on ethics and openness – two topics of special concern for those responsible for the future stewardship of recorded knowledge.

The Academy is the central pillar that supports The Knowledge Trust, a program founded by Dr. José-Marie Griffiths, dean of the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in October 2005.

The statement on ethics includes principles related to personal integrity, honesty and respect for diverse perspectives; maintaining the vital role of public trust; validation of the authenticity of all materials; respect; and a commitment to service.

Academy members also agreed that access to information should be freely and easily available to all, with due regard for safety and human rights. The principles adopted in the statement on openness encourages open access to the world’s knowledge, with a balanced regard and respect for the appropriateness and dangers inherent in archives and other collections withheld from public view, and regard for the necessity of restricted access to certain forms of information.

Representing business, academe, information technology, museums, librarianship and digital era innovators, academy members traveled from all parts of the globe to contribute to their continuing discussion about how to shape the education, professional practice and ethos of future generations of knowledge professionals.

The academy is developing a common vision to prepare the next generation of knowledge professionals – information specialists, librarians, technologists, curators, archivists and other stewards of knowledge – for an ever-changing environment and the challenges it presents.

These professionals will be expected to guide individuals through the masses of information they receive, to validate the authenticity of information and to provide stewardship, preservation and access for a global public.

When Griffiths established The Knowledge Trust, she, the school faculty and UNC leaders made a formal commitment to re-define and affirm the essential role and preparation of 21st-century knowledge professionals. The term knowledge trust also is used to describe the totality of the world’s recorded knowledge, as well as the professionals who are stewards of this knowledge.

“When we first met less than a year ago, we determined that our next meeting should be in a special place,” said Griffiths. “It should be a place symbolic of the highest values of stewardship of the knowledge trust and of the benefits and joys derived from the increase and diffusion of knowledge by and among men and women of good will of all races, colors and creeds. “What better place than Andulusia, what better symbol than Granada and what better example than their great libraries of the high Middle Ages whose patrons and stewards in a culture of tolerance preserved, protected and passed down to the latest generation much of what is known of the ancient cultural heritage of three great traditions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim?”

During the meeting, academy members focused on the principles of ethics and openness  throughout their discussions. The group touched on topics such as the blurring of access to public and private information; the new and powerful search engines and how they are administered; the preservation of digital images and records in the public domain for all to access; and the importance of understanding new laws.

The group also heard and participated in discussion on topics related to return on investment in libraries, re-balancing access to the world’s wealth of knowledge and shaping a new role and identity for the 21st-century knowledge professionals.
Sixteen members of the Louis Round Wilson Academy were formally inducted during a ceremony held in the 15th-century Marble Courtyard of the Hospital Real at the University of Granada. 

The newest members of the Louis Round Wilson Academy include:
•  Chris Batt, chief executive, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, London
•  Dr. Lynne Brindley, chief executive, The British Library
•  Ubaldo Gonzalez, senior representative, Spanish Ministry of Finance, Embassy of Spain, Washington, D.C.
•  Jay Jordan, president and CEO, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc.
•  Donald King, visiting scholar at UNC at Chapel Hill; research professor, University of Pittsburgh
•  Paula Le Dieu, director, iCommons
•  Dr. Cathy Norton, director, Marine Biological Library/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts
•  Dr. Wayne Pond, director, Program in Humanities and Human Values, UNC at Chapel Hill
•  Tom Rabon, executive vice president, Corporate Affairs, Red Hat, Inc.
•  Dr. Yael Ravin, program director, Learning and Organizational Performance, IBM
•  Dr. Terry Sharrer, health sciences curator, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History
•  Dr. Robert Shelton, president, University of Arizona
•  John Wilkin, associate university librarian for Library Information Technology and Technical and Access Services, University of Michigan
•  Dr. Ian Wilson, librarian and archivist, Library and Archives Canada
•  Dr. Ann Wolpert, director, MIT Libraries, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
•  Nicole Wong, associate general counsel, Google, Inc.

The Granada meeting was hosted and sponsored by the University of Granada, the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science and the Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C. The Academy was welcomed to Spain and the city of Granada by University of Granada representatives Rector D. David Aguilar Peña; Manuel Diaz Carrillo, vice rector for international and institutional relations; Dr. Antonio Sanchez Pozo, vice rector and commissioner for the European higher education area; Josefina Vilchez Pardo, dean of the faculty of information and library science; and Antonio Marin Ruiz, director of communications.

Representatives of the Spanish government who hosted and sponsored the meeting were Carlos Westendorp, ambassador to the United States; Miguel Martinez, senior representative of the ministry of education and science; and Ubaldo Gonzalez of Washington, D.C., senior representative of the Spanish Ministry of Finance. The next meeting will focus on the topic of educating the 21st century knowledge professional. 

This article was included in the summer issue of

A press release was issued by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s News Service.