ACRL Communities of Practice Assembly

ACRL Leadership Council at Midwinter

  • 1.  ACRL Leadership Council at Midwinter

    Posted Jan 23, 2015 03:47 PM
      |   view attached

    Please see the following message on behalf of ACRL President Karen Williams.

    Allison Payne
    ACRL Program Officer

    Greetings Fellow ACRL Leaders,

    I look forward to our time together at Leadership Council on Friday, January 30 and am attaching the agenda.  

    The Board of Directors has been taking a look at a number of our processes and traditions and we’ve come to realize that it may not be transparent to all of you how or why you ended up on Leadership Council; so I’ll try to shed some light.  When you are elected or appointed to leadership positions with committees or communities of practice (COP), you also become a leader for ACRL at large.  Your leadership at this level is critical to the success of ACRL and our strategic initiatives; your input on key issues is very important to the Board.  

    Your committee or COP leadership also makes you a member of the Leadership Council (LC), which has been the primary vehicle for interaction between you and the Board.  The Board is very intentional in crafting agendas for the LC meetings that occur at Midwinter and Annual conferences.  We want your good thinking on important issues and questions.  Having said that, we want to use a part of our upcoming meeting to hear your thoughts and expectations as an ACRL Leader.  How do you want to participate in ACRL leadership beyond your primary role?  What are the best vehicles for making this happen?

    We’re also trying something new in sharing an item with you in advance so you can think about it and be prepared for conversation in Chicago.  There have been many recent conversations in higher education around academic freedom.  The ACRL Professional Values Committee has drafted a Statement on Academic Freedom and we’ll be asking you to discuss in small groups and share your thoughts at LC.  As you consider the proposed statement below, please think about whether this adds to or complements existing ACRL/ALA policies or if you believe existing policies are adequate.

    Background on the proposed ACRL Statement on Academic Freedom:

    In recent years, new forms of media such as Facebook and Twitter have made it easier for faculty to share their perspectives and opinions beyond the classroom and traditional publications. Consequently, controversial statements made by faculty are easily shared by fans and critics alike, broadening the audience and scope of academic discourse while raising questions about the limits of academic freedom in a digital environment. Concerns about faculty rights of free expression on social and other online media prompted the American Association of University Professors to revise and update their statement on Academic Freedom and Electronic Communications in November 2013 (which was subsequently endorsed by ACRL in October 2014).

    Academic librarians face the same threat of curtailed academic freedom as our colleagues in the classroom. Existing ACRL and ALA policy statements are narrowly focused on either specific threats to academic freedom (e.g., the ALA resolution against the Academic Bill of Rights) or on specific roles of faculty librarians (i.e., teaching and research). As members of the academic community, librarians should show our support for the principles that are essential to all faculty. Therefore, the ACRL Professional Values Committee (PVC) believes that our association should have a clear and unambiguous statement that supports academic freedom in general, as free expression is a central tenet of our profession.

    In the fall of 2014, the PVC drafted a Statement on Academic Freedom and submitted it for review by the ACRL Executive Committee at their October meeting.   In response to comments from the Executive Committee, the PVC revised the statement, which is presented below:

    Proposed ACRL Statement on Academic Freedom

    Librarians have a long history and practice of defending the free expression of ideas. 

    The “Code of Ethics of American Library Association” states that “we are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information.” In the context of the university, intellectual freedom is closely associated with academic freedom.

    The “Association of College and Research Libraries Joint Statement on Faculty Status of College and University Librarians” states that “[c]ollege and university librarians share the professional concerns of faculty members. Academic freedom is indispensable to librarians in their roles as teachers and researchers.”

    The American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights” states that “Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.” 

    Therefore, the Association of College and Research Libraries, in accordance with our professional norms and stated commitments, opposes any actions that limit the free expression of ideas by employees and faculty on campus, in the classroom, in writing, and in the public realm, especially in the context of the university and its traditional support for academic freedom, and opposes retaliation for the expression of those ideas. [end]

    Many of you will also be aware of the robust conversation underway about the proposed new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.  We have not placed this item on the Leadership Council agenda as there have been many opportunities for input and it appears on the Board agenda both Saturday and Monday, with time for open mic comments.   If, however, your group has had conversation about the Framework, the Board would appreciate receiving a summary.  You can send something to or speak with your Board liaison.  For more information, please see my recent blog post on ACRL Insider at

    Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about the agenda.  See you soon in Chicago.  Wear layers!


    Karen Williams

    Dean of University Libraries

    Main Library A349 
    The University of Arizona
    P.O. Box 210055
    1510 E University Blvd
    Tucson, AZ 85721-0055

    Phone: (520) 621-5079
    FAX: (520) 621-9733