Part 1 – Introduction

The Cataloguing Code of Ethics was created by the Cataloging Ethics Steering Committee, consisting of members from cataloguing communities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, with the assistance of Working Group members from the international cataloguing community. 

In response to a clear interest and need for direction on cataloguing ethics, this committee was formed to create a dynamic document on cataloguing ethics that embodies the collective experiences and wisdom of the cataloguing community of practice. The completed document would consist of ethical statements based on principles and values identified by the committee and the Working Groups, with guidance and examples of best practice, that can be shared across the cataloguing community.

Cataloging Ethics Steering Committee website

The term cataloguing ethics is defined as a set of principles and values that provide an intentional decision-making framework for those who work in cataloguing or metadata positions.

The ethical statements listed in Part 2 are intended to inform our professional practice and provide ethical guidance. The statements are based upon fundamental principles and values in cataloguing work, identified by the Cataloging Ethics Steering Committee and the Working Groups: 

  • Access to resources and metadata
  • Acknowledging bias
  • Advocacy
  • Collaboration
  • Critically applying standards
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Education and training
  • Respect for agent privacy and preferences
  • Responsibility and transparency
  • Understanding and meeting user needs

 The full version of this introduction, together with a list of members of the Cataloging Ethics Steering Committee and Working Groups

Part 2 - Statements of Ethical Principles

We will use these ethical statements, listed here in no particular order of importance, to guide and improve our cataloguing practice:

1. We catalogue resources in our collections with the end-user in mind to facilitate access and promote discovery.

2. We commit to describing resources without discrimination whilst respecting the privacy and preferences of their associated agents.

3. We acknowledge that we bring our biases to the workplace; therefore, we strive to overcome personal, institutional, and societal prejudices in our work. 

4. We recognise that interoperability and consistent application of standards help our users find and access materials. However, all standards are biased; we will approach them critically and advocate to make cataloguing more inclusive.

5. We support efforts to make standards and tools financially, intellectually, and technologically accessible to all cataloguers, and developed with evidence-based research and stakeholder input.

6. We take responsibility for our cataloguing decisions and advocate for transparency in our institutional practices and policies.

7. We collaborate widely to support the creation, distribution, maintenance, and enrichment of metadata in various environments and jurisdictions.

8. We insist on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. We promote education, training, equitable pay, and a fair work environment for everyone who catalogues so that they can continue to support search and discovery.

9. We advocate for the value of cataloguing work within our organisations and with external partners.

10. We work with our user communities to understand their needs in order to provide relevant and timely services.

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