Between Librarians and Bookworms: About the (Missing) Social Engagement of the Information Community.
Using Carl Spitzweg’s painting “The Bookworm” (ca. 1850) and the social criticism it expresses as a metaphor for today’s information community (libraries as well as other information professions), the paper addresses the problematic of the missing social engagement within this community. Using several issue that challenge intellectual freedom and privacy as examples, the paper emphasizes the stress ratio between their effects on society as a whole and their effect on the information community and its practice.
To illustrate this notion, the following examples are discussed:
- Intellectual Property (social effects of the IP-mechanism as well as legislations such as HADOPI, SOPA, PIPA, ACTA and their consequences)
- Telecommunications Data Retention
- A Trojan horse employed by the German government
The main argument in the paper claims that the information community should not limit its actions only to cases, in which these issues directly affect its practice (e.g. exceptions for libraries in copyrights-legislations; Library of Congress blocking access to WikiLeaks), but rather take a stand in the public debate and situate itself in this debate as  the professional community when it comes to information and knowledge  a professional community with high moral values that takes actions for the future of society.
The paper concludes with an outline of an initiative for such social engagement. It includes library and information institutions (e.g. FAIFE), cooperation with other organization from the information sector (e.g. Global Network Initiative), and emphasizes the personal engagement of the information community’s members. The initiative has a considerable online character (employment of social media, amongst others) but doesn’t neglect the importance of real-world activism (presence on conventions and demonstrations, assimilation of these subject in academic LIS curricula, engagement of “young professionals” etc.).
An important point of reference for the plea in the paper is the working paper “Code of Ethics for Librarians and other Information Workers” as well as the German code of ethics „Ethische Grundsätze der Bibliotheks- und Informationsberufe“. These offer a framework for discussion and argumentation.
A deep reading of these papers, together with consideration of the above mentioned issues in their broad and global context, offer the insight that social engagement in the manner plead for in this paper is the only way to be truly loyal to these codes of ethics in all of their facets.