Power and Status (and Lack Thereof) in Academe: Academic Freedom and Academic Librarians

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Power and Status (and Lack Thereof) in Academe: Academic Freedom and Academic Librarians

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In the Library with the Lead Pipe




Academic librarians do not experience full academic freedom protections, despite the fact that they are expected to exercise independent judgment, be civically engaged, and practice applied scholarship. Academic freedom for academic librarians is not widely studied or well understood. To learn more, we conducted a survey which received over 600 responses from academic librarians on a variety of academic freedom measures. In this article, we focus specifically on faculty status for librarians and the ways this intersects with academic freedom perceptions and experiences. Even though all librarians who answered our survey share similar experiences when it comes to infringements on their freedom, faculty librarians are more likely to feel they are protected in their free expression. We find it useful to situate librarians within a growing cohort of “third space” academic professionals who perform similar duties to traditional faculty but lack tenure and its associated academic freedom protections. We argue that more attention needs to be paid in the library profession to academic freedom for librarians, and that solidarity with other non-traditional faculty on campus is a potential avenue for allyship and advocacy.


This is a postprint. The version of record can be found here: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2020/power-and-status-and-lack-thereof-in-academe.

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Leebaw, Danya; Logsdon, Alexis. (2020). Power and Status (and Lack Thereof) in Academe: Academic Freedom and Academic Librarians. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/216535.

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