27 March 2018

BSLA Project Report: Sri Lanka (2015-2018) "Establishment and Promotion of Professional Ethics Culture among Library and Information Professionals"

After completion of the BSLA project we had some questions for the project team and this is what they told us!  Get inspired by the path taken by the Sri Lanka Library Association (SLLA) in strengthening their library and information sector!

BSLA Train of Trainers in Sri Lanka

What were your goals?

After exploring and studying the current situation of professional ethics in the Library and Information Science (LIS) field, the SLLA identified the need to:

  • Promote and raise the awareness of professional ethics in the LIS sector in Sri Lanka

How did you plan to make this happen?

The SLLA started with a full review of its existing Code of Ethics (CoE) that was published in 1998. 

Once this review was done, efforts to increase awareness and promote it among LIS professionals followed with a Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop for 20 LIS professionals selected based on their experience in the field.

After the workshop, trainers shared the newly acquired knowledge through training to other levels in the LIS profession across the country.

How did it work?

The CoE was revised after much deliberation at SLLA Committee level, and then by a group of Senior LIS professionals, particularly past SLLA presidents.

The new version of the CoE was then used for the whole project, as well as the ToT and subsequent trainings.

A successful ToT was conducted and the content was immediately used at four trainings held in four provinces in Sri Lanka: Jaffna, Colombo, Uva and Central Provinces.

An awareness programme was also carried out in the South Eastern University for academic LIS staff, facilitated by two ToT trainers.

Copies were given to all trainees and in all instances the CoE was used to emphasize the need of Professional Ethics and behavior in our profession.

Evaluations and feedback showed that this programme was highly useful for library employees' day to day professional work and their careers. 

How did you use communications during the project?

The following communication materials and tools were used during the workshop:

  1. Multilingual lectures and discussions, held in English, Sinhala and Tamil languages, as participants came from different areas of Sri Lanka.
  2. Power Point presentations, prepared as course materials to be used in other cascade trainings in the country.These were translated to Sinhala and English.
  3. Case studies/presentations, lecturers were interactive and some activities consisted on discussing real-life scenarios. These were very helpful to understand what Professional Ethics are and to convey the need to act accordingly. 
  4. Experience sharing, a very interesting feature was that participants shared issues or dilemmas they faced when carrying out their work. Especially for the following: user behavior, user negotiation, imparting confidential information, copyright issues and plagiarism, and being confidential about users’ type of information. 
  5. Role playing, this activity was very effective to highlight problems and solutions to challenges that are faced by librarians.

What did you learn in the process?

Through discussions, we discovered a lack of understanding concerning CoEs in the LIS sector, despite the undeniable importance of it to our profession.

The questions on how to deal with some critical situations showed us that a CoE of an institution should be discussed internally, taking real life experiences into account.

The participants felt confident in having such documentation to back their issues and knowledgeable on the expected professional behavior in most situations.

The SLLA is fully aware that such programmes should be continued in the future whenever and where ever it is deemed necessary, to sustain the awareness gained by participants and future LIS generations.

What are your next steps?

The SLLA project team will work in the following activities:

  • Hold more awareness-raising trainings on this area when possible, with available resources
  • The CoE will be promoted online and in trainings
  • The subject of Professional Ethics will be incorporated to the SLLA’s Diploma Educational program

LDP (Library Development Programme), Associations, Capacity building, Professional development, Sri Lanka, Building Strong Library Associations, BSLA, ethics

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