In my previous posting, I wrote about conflicts of interest. I was discussing this post with my husband, who happens to be a lawyer. He commented that librarians in the private sector should consider privacy or confidentiality agreements between themselves and their clients. This would be similar to a solicitor and client privacy agreement.
What would a confidential or privacy agreement do? This type of an agreement serves several purposes. First, it guarantees a right of privacy to your clients. This will assure them that the information you are cataloguing and their own name as an individual or company will remain confidential. It will also provide assurance to our clients who may, perhaps, be competitors with other clients. They will have a contract that outlines the services we are providing and that the information will be not discussed with or available to outside parties, including their competitors.
Finally, it will protect us as professionals. Agreements such as these will protect our integrity and support our reputation as professionals. Providing an understanding of the services we provide and how their information will be stored and/or used will assure them that we are simply organizing information, not using it, reporting it or judging it. In essence, are an uninterested third party whose sole service is to organize and provide clients with access to their information.
I don’t know if the existing “cataloguing” firms out in the public sector are currently using such agreements. However, I think that those cataloguers who choose a career in the private sector need to accept that they are not only cataloguers, but businessmen (or women) and conduct their services accordingly. Given today’s litigious environment and concern over matters of privacy, we need to carefully consider our position and the roles we play both in the public and private sector. We should always adhere to highest principles of our professional ethics and take any precautionary steps necessary to protect our profession and integrity. We do not want to be accused of being in a conflict of interest or of failing to keep information confidential. This will hurt our reputations, our profession and our business.