Article B - Ethics and Conduct

Code of Ethics for Library Employees:

Ethics is that branch of philosophy dealing with values of human life, concerned with conduct or character in terms of right and wrong, and based on standards or principles which guide a person in making morally right choices in daily activities.

Every citizen has the right as an individual to take part in public debate or to engage in social and political activity. The only restrictions on these activities are those imposed by law or regulation. However, since personal views and activities may be representative of the institution, proper precaution must be taken to distinguish between private actions and those authorized in the name of the institution.

Staff members of the Athens Regional Library System have a special responsibility:

To maintain the principles of the ALA Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement.
To learn and execute the library policies and to express in a positive manner any concern or objection with the policies, philosophies or programs of the library.
To maintain an objective and open attitude of understanding, courtesy, and concern for the patron’s needs.
To protect the essential, confidential relationship which exists between a library user and the library.
To serve all patrons equally according to their needs.
To make the library resources and services known and easily accessible to all current and potential users.
To carry out activities assigned under the policies of the library in a spirit of cooperation.
To avoid personal financial gain at the expense of the institution.
To be cognizant of the obligations of employment and of what constitutes abuse of working conditions and benefits.
To acknowledge the importance of the work done by all staff in all departments and to maintain a sense of loyalty to and cooperation with fellow staff members.
To carry out assignments so that fellow staff members need not assume added responsibilities except in emergencies.
To share knowledge and expertise with others.
To respect the abilities and knowledge or other staff and to treat others with respect.

Staff members are encouraged to become involved in civic, educational and professional organizations. Regularly scheduled and paid work time may not be used to attend meetings which are not job related.

Article B - Ethics and Conduct

B. 1. Overview

Ethics is that branch of philosophy dealing with values of human life, concerned with conduct or character in terms of right and wrong, and based on standards or principles which guide a person in making morally right choices in daily activities. Every citizen has the right as an individual to take part in public debate or to engage in social and political activity. The only restrictions on these activities are those imposed by law or regulation. However, since personal views and activities may be perceived to be representative of the institution, proper precaution must be taken to distinguish between private actions and those authorized in the name of the institution.

The proper operation of a public organization requires that officials and employees be independent and impartial, that policy and decisions be made through proper channels of the organizational structure, that positions not be used for personal gain, and that the public has confidence in the integrity of the organization.

B. 3. Conflicts of Interest

Employees must avoid any situation which involves (or may involve) a conflict between their personal interests and the interest of the Athens Regional Library System. An actual or potential conflict of interest occurs when an employee is in a position to influence a decision that may result in personal gain for the employee, a relative, or an associate as a result of the library’s business dealings. A personal gain may result in cases where an employee, relative, or associate has significant ownership in a firm with which ARLS does business, or receives any kickback, bribe, gift, or special consideration as a result of any transaction or business dealings involving ARLS.

Employees must make prompt and full disclosure in writing to the Executive Director (or designee) of any association, relationship, business arrangement, or circumstance which may involve a conflict of interest.

(10-19-2017)

Gifts and Gratuities

Monetary gifts should be viewed as a goodwill gesture and must be given to the public library and not to the person performing the service on behalf of the library (speaker at meetings, etc.). By giving the money to the library any conflicts of interest are avoided, and any attempt at cultivating favoritism on the part of any one employee can be avoided. Moreover, since many of our services are provided during regular work hours when an employee is receiving compensation for regular work duty, the acceptance of any monetary gift would be a violation of compensation already provided for in the salary schedule.

Some organizations and individuals may present a gift other than money to show appreciation for a service. These might consist of a gift of food or some other material gift and these too should be given to the library and not the individual.

Staff members requested to speak at job related meetings or workshops are encouraged to do so. Any employee who is hired to work as a consultant or is being paid an honorarium to present a program must work on the employee’s own time, e.g., vacation, holiday, or off day. Employees must have advance approval to participate in a meeting during the time they would be scheduled to work. Use of vacation or holiday time must also be approved.

B. 4. Gifts, Gratuities, & Favors

Employees should not solicit, accept, or agree to accept any gifts, money, loans, gratuities, discounts, favors, hospitality, or services from vendors known to be seeking business with the library. Since ARLS employees receive compensation from the library for the services or performances they provide, monetary gifts or stipends from library business associates should be viewed as a goodwill gesture to the library and should be turned over to the library, not kept by the employee performing the service on behalf of the library. Gifts other than money (e.g., food or other material gift) should also be given to the library and not the individual.

Gratuities or gifts normally acceptable include the following:

  • Occasional gift or award valued at $30.00 or less
  • Food items placed in a common area for staff to share
  • Inexpensive promotional or marketing items
  • Vendor samples to be used in the workplace
  • Floral arrangements to be placed in a common area
  • Courtesy admission to an educational or informational event
  • Meals, beverages, and refreshments at a business function or training event
  • Business meal at a meeting with a current ARLS vendor
  • Prize from a drawing at a work-related event
  • Gifts exchanged between coworkers as friends, or among a group of employees, as long as no employee feels required to participate or contribute.

This list is not intended to cover every potential situation; potential conflicts of interest should be reviewed with the supervisor.

(10-19-2017)

Outside employment

Any outside occupation, pursuit or endeavor that interferes with the regular and punctual discharge of library duties is prohibited and will result in termination. However, if outside activities do not interfere with regular work attendance or quality of work, outside employment is permitted. It should not, however, be in direct conflict with library service or involve the use of confidential information learned directly or indirectly through employment with the library. A statement describing outside employment must be on file.

B. 5. Outside Employment and Memberships

Any outside occupation, pursuit, or endeavor that interferes with the regular and punctual discharge of library duties is prohibited and will result in termination of employment. If outside activities do not interfere with regular work attendance or quality of work, outside employment is permitted. It should not, however, be in direct conflict with library service or involve the use of confidential information learned directly or indirectly through employment with the library.

Staff members are encouraged to be involved in civic, educational, and professional organizations. Regularly scheduled and paid work time may not be used to attend meetings which are not job related. Time spent on approved or assigned participation in outside organizations may be counted as work time. Any employee who is hired to work as a consultant or is being paid an honorarium to present a program must work on the employee’s own time. Employees must have advance approval to participate in a meeting during the time they would be scheduled to work. Use of vacation or holiday time must also be pre-approved.

Confidential Information

Library patrons are legally entitled to privacy with respect to information requested on their applications for borrowers’ cards, to the information they seek, and to the materials they use or borrow. These matters must not be discussed with other library patrons and should not become the subject of idle conversation among staff members.

Any person who comes to the library and inquires about a patron’s reading records or about information contained on the borrower’s application cards should be referred to the Library Director or the librarian in charge at the time. The library has adopted a strong statement on confidentiality of library records and this information will not be provided except by court order.

Personal information about staff members, such as home addresses, telephone numbers, children’s names, etc., should never be given out on the telephone or across the information desk. Refer inquirers to Administration staff. (See Confidentiality Policy in Policy Manual)

Political Activity

Employees are encouraged to be involved and interested in civic and political activity vital to a representative government in a free society. Employees are free to engage in whatever civic and/or political activity they choose so long as their involvement does not infringe on library time, is not conducted on library premises and is not a conflict of interest.

F. 3. d. Political Activities

No library employee shall hold an elective government office which affects the funding of the library, nor shall he/she solicit any contributions, assessments, or services.

Employees are encouraged to exercise their right to vote and, on their own time, to take part in political activities. However, employees' rights to express their political opinions during work hours or as a representative of the library are limited.

No employee may engage in political activities, including displaying political campaign buttons or other apparel, at the work place or during work shifts. No employee may make use of library time, equipment, email accounts, or other resources to aid or endorse a political candidate, party, or cause; nor may any employee use his or her position at the library to persuade, coerce, or intimidate any other person in the interest of a political candidate, party, or cause. Bumper stickers or decals may not be applied to library property or library vehicles unless specifically approved by the Library Director or Assistant Directors.

All Athens Regional Library System employees should be free of any and all political persuasion or coercion in relationship to their employment, and/or from their supervisors and fellow employees, and should report any such attempted pressure to their supervisor or the Human Resources Officer.

(4-20-2017)

The Internal Revenue Code regarding tax exempt agencies prohibits employees of public agencies from actively campaigning for any candidates for public office at the library. Library employees are prohibited from endorsing or advertising a political candidate or issue on library premises with the exception of bumper stickers on employee cars in library parking lots. No promotional materials will be attached to the vehicles owned by the library and political materials will not be permitted on public bulletin boards. The library can provide materials of an educational and informational nature on local, state and national political issues.

Professional and Public Conduct

In all of its dealings with personnel, the library makes every effort to be fair, to provide good working conditions, equitable payment, and equal opportunity and consideration for all. In return, it expects reasonable effort and productivity, combined with adherence to established rules and regulations. As an institution serving the public, there are specific guidelines for conduct and dress.

Because the demeanor, attitude and conduct of each library employee is as important to the patron as the service received, the library expects each employee to interact with every patron and staff member with poise, tact, courtesy, self discipline and to conduct each encounter with prompt, friendly and efficient service. For this reason, all employees are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the following guidelines:

Each patron should be given courteous and prompt service.

  1. Staff members should show proper restraint and tact at all times. Difficult situations, or people, should be brought to the attention of the Branch Manager/Team Coordinator.
  2. The staff should be alert and approachable. Patrons should not be made to feel that the staff is completely absorbed in work or conversation and thus too busy to help them.
  3. Telephone calls should be answered pleasantly and with the library’s name.
  4. Employees working in public areas may not eat food or candy or chew gum while they are on duty. Branch/Team Coordinators may specify other areas as off limits to eating or drinking.
  5. Employees are expected to exhibit loyalty to the library system and a spirit of courteous cooperation between individuals and teams when working.
  6. Except for emergencies, employees are expected to conduct personal business on their own time.
  7. Employees are expected to exercise due care in the use of library property and to use such property only for authorized purposes.
  8. Employees are expected to suggest ideas to reduce operating costs to their supervisors.
  9. Employees are required to report to their jobs in appropriate mental and physical condition, ready to work. If an employee may be impaired because of taking medication according to a doctor’s prescription, he or she is expected to discuss it with her/his supervisor before commencing work that day.

B. 8. Public Relationships

Because the demeanor, attitude, and conduct of each library employee is as important to the patron as the service received, the library expects each employee to interact with every patron and staff member with poise, tact, courtesy, and self-discipline and to conduct each encounter with prompt, friendly, and efficient service. For this reason, all employees are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the following guidelines:

  1. Each patron should be given courteous and prompt service.
  2. Staff members should show proper restraint and tact at all times. Difficult situations, or people, should be brought to the attention of the Branch Manager/Team Coordinator.
  3. The staff should be alert and approachable. Patrons should not be made to feel that the staff is completely absorbed in work or conversation and thus too busy to help them.
  4. Telephone calls should be answered pleasantly and with the library’s name.
  5. Employees working in public areas may not eat food or candy or chew gum while they are on duty. Branch/Team Coordinators may specify other areas as off limits to eating or drinking.
  6. Employees are expected to exhibit loyalty to the library system and a spirit of courteous cooperation between individuals and teams when working.
  7. Except for emergencies, employees are expected to conduct personal business on their own time.
  8. Employees are expected to exercise due care in the use of library property and to use such property only for authorized purposes.
  9. Employees are expected to suggest ideas to reduce operating costs to their supervisors.
  10. Employees are required to report to their jobs in appropriate mental and physical condition, ready to work. If an employee may be impaired because of taking medication according to a doctor’s prescription, he or she is expected to discuss it with her/his supervisor before commencing work that day.

All staff members are expected to be pleasant and courteous to all persons because the opinion people have of the library depends a great deal on the contact they have with the staff. The library cannot function properly as a public service agency unless staff members do their share in helping the public. Consequently, a friendly, helpful attitude on the part of all staff is extremely important if the library is to perform its function of providing information and services to the public.

B. 8. b. Contact with Media

External media communications (in print, electronic, or any other format) that mention the library in any manner must have authorization from the Executive Director, an Assistant Director, the Public Relations Officer, or other designee prior to submission for publication or the employee must indicate that the publication does not necessarily represent the views of the library. All media inquiries regarding the library and its operations must be referred to the Executive Director, an Assistant Director, the Public Relations Officer, or other designated individuals. No employees are authorized to make statements on behalf of the library unless specifically designated by the Executive Director.

Use of the library’s name in the endorsement of any product, service, program, or other type of promotion is not permitted without prior authorization by the Executive Director or designee.

B. 8. c. Representing the Library at Outside Events

In order to unify the library system’s face and voice in the communities, to inform the public and other stakeholders about library programs and services, and to give audiences the tools and information they need to become effective library advocates, the ARLS Public Information Office coordinates publicity outreach and off-site events, such as booths at local festivals or tables at information fairs. Requests to represent the library at such types of local events should be submitted to the Public Information Officer or the Assistant Director for Regional Services and Outreach in advance of event registration.

B. 8. d. Social Media

Social media can be defined as content created by people using highly accessible Internet-based publishing tools for sharing and discussing information. These emerging platforms for online collaboration offer new ways to engage with patrons, colleagues, and the world at large, and have the potential to help staff build stronger professional relationships and take part in national and global conversations related to the library’s work.

The Athens Regional Library System encourages the use of social media tools; however, due to the nature of social media, which encourages free-flowing conversations and allows for instantaneous publication reaching a potentially wide audience, the following tenets are required in order to assure effective and appropriate information, security, responsible speech, and privacy protection.

Library Social Media

All library social media entities, sites, or memberships, whether regional, branch, or departmental, must be pre-approved by the Executive Director or the Director’s designee. ARLS disavows and is not responsible for any sites, posts, opinions, or content not coordinated through and approved by the Executive Director or designee.

  1. The focus of all library social media sites must be consistent with the mission of the Athens Regional Library System.
  2. The ARLS Public Information Officer coordinates the library’s social media presence.
  3. Participating staff administering or editing library social media sites must have the requisite expertise to post information.
  4. Confidential information may not be shared via social media; all posts must adhere to library policies, especially those concerning the privacy of others. Documents, decisions, and conversations which are internal to the library may not be released without appropriate approval. Comments on legal matters or litigation related to the library are not allowed without pre-approval from the Executive Director.
  5. Staff posts and comments must be respectful and considerate and contain no remarks that are offensive or off-topic. Responses to posts must be appropriate, polite, and may not denigrate others. Airing grievances against management, patrons, fellow employees, departments, or local or state agencies is not appropriate.
  6. Transparency must be maintained when posting or commenting by identifying the poster and his/her role within the library. Employees are personally responsible for content they post. All of the content associated should be consistent with the library's values and professional standards.
  7. If user/patron content is positive or negative and in context to the conversation, then the content should be allowed to remain, regardless of whether it is favorable or unfavorable to the library. If the content is offensive, denigrating, completely out of context, or otherwise against Patron Responsibilities and Conduct policy, then the content should be rejected and removed.

Personal Social Media

Employees may use personal social media on their own time and using their own equipment. The following types of personal social media postings are not allowed:

  1. Sensitive or proprietary information about ARLS.
  2. Confidential information about patrons or fellow employees.
  3. Posts which violate ARLS policies covering harassing, demeaning, or creating a hostile work environment for other ARLS employees.

Posts on personal social media are the legal liability of the poster, not the library.

(10-17-2017)

Telephone Calls and Other Communications Activity

Prompt and courteous answers to telephone calls are very important. Telephone manners make or lose friends for the library.

Library telephone and data communication lines are intended for library business purposes only and are limited in number. Incoming and outgoing personal calls are discouraged except in case of emergency and should be kept brief. Employees are responsible for making this clear to family and friends. Personal calls should not be taken at public service desks, but should be taken at phones away from public areas and limited to three minutes. Long distance calls and directory assistance must be recorded on telephone log sheets and initialed. These services may not be used for personal business. Staff should use their phone credit card, or charge to their home number any personal long distance calls made from the library.

Library patrons should use the pay telephone for regular telephone usage. However, patrons who have emergency need for use of library telephones will be assisted by library staff members in dialing appropriate numbers. Patrons will be requested to complete calls as quickly as possible to leave library telephone lines available for business use.

The postage meter may NOT be used for personal mail. Staff must buy stamps for personal use from the Business Manager.

All employees, other than couriers and bookmobile drivers, who must leave the building on official business or for personal reasons other than lunch hour, must sign out accurately with time departing, estimated time of return, and destination. The receptionist or staff in the circulation area will use this information for efficiency in answering the phone and for emergency contact purposes. This requirement protects staff should an accident occur while conducting library business. Library errands which require an employee to leave the building must be approved by the team coordinator.

Communication within the library must be directed through regular administrative channels. This will facilitate communication efforts we well as improve their overall effectiveness. External communications that mention the library in any manner must either have the Director, Administrative Assistant, or Public Relations Assistant’s authorization prior to submission for publication or the employee must indicate that the publication does not necessarily represent the views of the library. Publicity programs and requests for graphic art work must be routed through the Public Relations Assistant, except publicity releases to local community papers in the region which may be submitted on approval of the Branch Consultant.

Use of the library’s name in the endorsement of any product or service or other type of promotion is not permitted without prior authorization of the Director.

B. 7. Workplace Communication

Effective communication is crucial to the success of each employee as well as to the Library. Employees are responsible for checking their assigned mailboxes, emails, and voicemails (if applicable) on a regular basis. Employees will also receive information verbally from supervisors and other staff. Individual departments may have additional mandatory procedures for communicating changes or other information. Employees should become familiar with the communications expectations for their assigned duties. Employees should keep supervisors informed about any questions, concerns, suggestions, or other workplace issues. Supervisors should be able to answer staff’s questions or refer them to another source for information.

B. 7. a. Use of Library Communication Systems

A variety of communication channels are maintained by Athens Regional Library System to promote the efficient operation of Library business. All information transmitted by, received by, or stored in these communications systems is the sole property of ARLS; an employee has no expectation of privacy related thereto.

B. 7. b. Use of Library Telephones

Library telephones are provided for purposes of conducting ARLS business. Personal calls made by staff should be avoided unless there is an immediate concern and should not be taken at public desks. Personal long-distance calls are not permitted on ARLS phones.

(10-19-2017)

General Housekeeping Duties

A neat and orderly service area and building reflects positively on the service image of the library. Public service personnel do not dress for work to perform heavy custodial tasks, but some light housekeeping activity is expected of all personnel. Efforts should be made to provide a space for everything and service areas and individual work spaces should be kept clean and orderly. A staff room is maintained for the convenience of employees and volunteers for use during breaks and meal periods. Staff members are expected to wash their own utensils, dispose of unused food, and leave the area in a clean and orderly condition. Staff is not allowed to bring drinks or food into the public service areas. Staff is also expected to remind library patrons that drinks and food are not allowed in the library.

Safety

The library strives to develop and maintain safe working conditions and encourages its employees to work carefully and safely and to observe the safety rules of their area or branch. Many injuries are caused by carelessness, even though the job itself is not hazardous. The prevention of accidents is basically an individual responsibility.

The library may hire security services to provide a more secure environment for staff and patrons. The Access Services Coordinator will be responsible for the security staff; the Access Team supervisors will monitor daily security operations. The security guard is responsible for securing the facility each night.

Only library personnel have access to non-public areas of the building. The code for the security keypad should not be given to anyone other than library personnel.

All valuables such as purses, wallets, jewelry and money funds should be locked at all times whether offices are occupied or unoccupied. Lost property should be reported to a supervisor immediately.

An employee injured on the job should report the injury to his supervisor immediately regardless of how slight it might appear and should also indicate where on library property it occurred. The employee’s supervisor and the employee will notify the Administrative Assistant who will notify and provide information to the managed care provider for further instruction. In the event of an extreme medical emergency, an employee may be directed to the hospital emergency room or have an ambulance called.

An employee can only receive disability benefits for a work related injury if the injury is reported promptly. A slight injury may become quite serious after several days. If the injury is not reported when it occurs, an employee may have difficulty proving that it is work related.

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