Skip to Main Content

Luminary Lectures @ Your Library

Information Ethics: Challenges for Library and Information Science Professionals

Dr. Toni Carbo - December 9, 2002

As the roles of LIS professionals continue to evolve, new challenges face us in balancing the many roles demanded of us. Increasingly, we are called up to serve as educators and "translators" to teach the many publics we serve, to continue to educate ourselves, and to translate among the many groups with whom we interact, increasingly across institutional boundaries and national borders. We are also called upon to develop and implement policies throughout the entire life-cycle of information. Among the greatest challenges facing us is the need to earn trust in the information we provide, in the organizations for which we work, and in ourselves. Understanding our own sense of ethics and calling upon that sense throughout all aspects of our work is the greatest challenge we face. This presentation will address these issues and seek to stimulate discussion on them.


by Toni Carbo
Luminary Lecture @ Your Library
December 9, 2002

  1. Introduction
    1. Disclaimer
    2. Background
  2. Context/Emerging Trends
    1. A. Greater focus on the individual
    2. Increasingly global society
    3. Connecting across wider communities
    4. Balancing the "old" and the "new"
    5. Balancing the roles of the information professional
    6. Emphasis on trust
    7. Summary of trends
  3. Areas of information ethics issues
    1. Selection/collection
    2. Ownership/integrity of content
    3. Preservation/exclusion
    4. Access/dissemination
    5. Management
    6. Trust/individual integrity

About the Speaker

Toni Carbo is a professor in the School of Information Sciences (SIS) and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh, where she served as Dean of the School of Information Sciences from September 1986 through June 2002. Currently on sabbatical, Dr. Carbo is the first Madison Council Fellow in Library and Information Science at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, where she is conducting research on Information Ethics and Policy related to electronic government in the United States and the European Union.

From 1980-1986, she was Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), the government agency established in 1970 to advise the President and Congress on policy and planning in the library and information field. Her work in the information field began in 1962 and includes extensive experience working with information service producers and users (database producers and libraries) and conducting research in the areas of information policy and use. She has an A.B. from Brown University and M.S. and Ph.D. from Drexel University.

Dr. Carbo chairs the board of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and is vice-chair of Three Rivers Connect(3RC), a non-profit organization working to harness Information Technology to improve the quality of life in Western Pennsylvania. She was elected to the International Women's Forum of Western Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Senator John Heinz Award Jury for Technology, the Economy, and Employment. From 1994-1996, she was a member of the US National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council (NII AC) and was named one of seven US representatives to the G-7 Round Table of Business Leaders for the G-7 Information Society Conference, February 1995, in Brussels, Belgium.

Dr. Carbo is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Institute of Information Scientists (IIS), the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services (NFAIS), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA). In 1989, she was president of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) from which she received its Watson Davis Award in 1983. Among her other awards are: membership in Beta Phi Mu in 1973, the Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Library Association (PLA) in 1995, the American Library Association's (ALA) Fiftieth Anniversary Honor Roll of Legislative and Grass Roots Library Champions, and the Greater Pittsburgh YWCA Science and Technology Award in 2000. She was selected by Drexel University as one of the 100 most distinguished of its 60,000 alumni and was awarded its Centennial Medal. In 2002 she was honored by the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science in a special resolution for her "outstanding lifelong contributions to the field of library and information science, for government, for academia, for the business and industrial sector, for professional societies, and in the international arena."

Active in international information policy for more than three decades, Dr. Carbo served as a member of the Planning Committee of the first UNESCO Infoethics Conference in Monaco, March 1997 and has been involved with planning several other Information Ethics programs. She co-chaired the University of Pittsburgh--European Union conference on e-government, in 2001. She chaired the last US delegation to a general council meeting, that of the UNESCO General Information Programme (PGI), in 1984 and served as a member of the 1982 delegation. She was co-chair of the US National Committee for the International Federation for Information and Documentation (FID), chair of FID's Infostructures and Policies Committee, which oversaw the FID's role in the Global Information Alliance (GIA), and chair of the FID-IDRC Advice Group for the Project on the Impact of Information. She has directed several international research projects related to the use of scientific and technical information, and her research on overlap in coverage of scientific literature is considered the seminal work in the field.

Dr. Carbo was also a member of the Research Advisory Committee of OCLC. She is a member of the Information Futures Institute of Clarion University, served on the ASIS Award of Merit Jury, and was a member of the board of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council (GPLC) for five years.

Author of more than 100 articles, speeches, and technical reports in the information sciences, and co-editor with James G. Williams of Information Science: Still an Emerging Discipline, Dr. Carbo is the Editor of The International Information and Library Review (IILR), published by Academic Press and has served on the editorial boards and as a reviewer for several publications.

She has one daughter, Amanda Carbo-Bearman Rochon.