Course Description: Concepts, processes, and issues related to the larger social context within which the life cycle of knowledge is played out. Discussion topics include intellectual freedom, information as public/private good, intellectual property, privacy, confidentiality, information liability, information and telecommunications policy, the economics of information, and other professional values.

Case Study: Liability and Ethics in a Library Setting

A group assignment required analysis of a case study to comment on the facts and law surround a library’s program to copy and sell topographical maps of popular local hiking trails. The library eventually began enhancing the maps with additional content developed by volunteers. A number of incidents and accidents raised questions of the library’s liability to users of the maps, who relied on the content as authoritative, for purposes both expected and unanticipated by the library staff. The case also raised questions about the ethics of operating as a creator and seller of information, in addition to the more traditional role of locating and circulating information resources published by others.

This paper demonstrates a thorough and sophisticated understanding of the boundaries within which information providers must operate in fulfilling their mission to serve patrons’ needs. It omits the group’s discussion of copyright questions, as other members primarily produced that content, while I reviewed it and offered comments.
Complete paper (.doc, 50K) – Category: Foundations of Information Science – All Coursework

Topographic Map
Source: U.S. Forest Service,, accessed 09/16/2011

Journal Reflections: Copyright, Ethics, Privacy, Liability

This product compiles short responses to questions addressed by readings, lectures, and discussions over the course of the class. Beyond course materials, it demonstrates consideration of these issues over a career as an information professional grappling with copyright and ethical questions, along with years as a politically and socially active citizen concerned with erosion of privacy rights.
Complete paper (.doc, 41K) – Category: Foundations of Information Science – All Coursework