In the course, we're attempting to get a survey or lay-of-the-land look at the kinds of policy and ethics issues that affect library and information professionals in the course of their professional, and very likely, personal lives. As you note, it looks quite possible that there has been a move away from the important of information ethics (and access) at the levels our fellow student denoted - in government, the media, and so on. As current and future practitioners, many of you likely see the value of recognizing and articulating how these large-scale issues and cultural trends affect your local library and, just as the personal is political, so is the local, global. But one thing we might want to think about, too, is the ways in which librarians can agitate not just at the local level, but at a larger scale, to heighten awareness or make demands to ensure that the values and ethics we have talked about in class (and may deal with every day, on the job) are taken seriously and have import beyond our local level. I spent some time, for example, working with ALA's Washington, D.C. policy and government relations (the uncharitable might call the latter "lobbying") group, and saw firsthand the way librarians were building coalitions, to the benefit of libraries and, by extension, their patrons, with other think tanks and national organizations on a variety of topics we've touched on in class: copyright and fair use, access to information, funding issues, and so on. Because of the unique role, along with perhaps just a handful of other professions, of librarianship as being seen (by most) as advocating for the public good, librarians have a powerful voice that could be used in ways to agitate against some of these situations and paradigms that, at first blush, may seem insurmountable. I found those experiences, time and again, to be empowering. It was also impressive to see both how many trained librarians were working on these big issues and, likewise, the kind of respect they seemed to be afforded by other people and colleagues on their initiatives. I found that people speak about "librarians" with a different sort of tone in D.C. than they do, for example, about "lawyers." There is a preponderance of the latter working on policy there, to be sure.
It's also important to remember that while we have had a fairly easy time of it with this particular group of students in our class, in terms of people reaching general shared consensus about these policy and ethical issues, there have been many other instances of great and profound disagreement among library students in other iterations of this and similar classes. For that reason, I think there is value - and I hope you, the students do, too - in unveiling the state of so many of these issues and evaluating them collectively and vis-à-vis our own espoused ethical positions (e.g., ALA and similar professional ethical statements and documents) and those that have influenced us (e.g., J.S. Mill), on the whole. It keeps us knowledgeable and it keeps us on our toes, nimble and ready to be advocates for the public(s) we represent and engaged citizens, on the whole. I wonder if we have a higher burden, somehow, by simple virtue of our chosen vocations. What do all of you think?