LAUC Statement on Academic Freedom

Mar 05, 2019

The Librarians Association of the University of California (LAUC) calls for definitions of protections, responsibilities, obligations for scholarship, research, and teaching for Librarians at every level in the University of California system, specifically around the concept of Academic Freedom. In doing so, LAUC joins the University of California Council of University Librarian (CoUL) in their call for such an effort.1

LAUC affirms that UC librarians are engaged in all of the activities noted above. In addition, activities specific to librarianship, such as collection development, mark the librarian’s role in making decisions on the inclusion or exclusion of content in our libraries; a role that assures a broad range of perspectives and opinions are represented in the resources our libraries make available. Extending the protections of academic freedom to librarians is vital to support their role as educators and as promoters of intellectual freedom on our campuses.

Academic Freedom for librarians is not a new concept. In November of 2000, the American Association of University Professors Council endorsed the American Library Association’s statement on Intellectual Freedom Principles2 but prefaced its endorsement with language taken from the 1973 Joint Statement on Faculty Status of College and University Librarians3 that specifically mentions academic freedom:

College and university librarians share the professional concerns of faculty members. Academic freedom, for example, is indispensable to librarians, because they are trustees of knowledge with the responsibility of ensuring the availability of information and ideas, no matter how controversial, so that teachers may freely teach and students may freely learn.4

In addition, Academic Freedom for faculty and staff is one of the core standards by which the University of California is assessed for accreditation. Specifically, the University is required to "publicly state its commitment to academic freedom for faculty, staff, and students, and act accordingly."5 Librarians clearly fall under this umbrella.

A standing LAUC Committee on Professional Governance (CPG) is available both to support the crafting of such policy as well as to provide an ongoing mechanism for oversight and adjudication. The LAUC membership will approach this work in good faith and with active participation.

Submitted on behalf of the LAUC Membership,
Roger Smith
LAUC President, 2018-2019

CoUL letter of endorsement

2 ALA Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries

3 ACRL Joint Statement on Faculty Status of College and University Librarians

4 Intellectual Freedom, Academic Freedom, and the Academic Librarian

5 WASC Accreditation Standards

Academic Freedom and Librarians: A Natural Fit