Educating from the Margins: Academic Librarians and Academic Freedom

By Alexis Logsdon and Danya Leebaw


In this article, we highlight how academic librarians’ distinct and often precarious role on campus, together with our profession’s focus on the parent concept of intellectual freedom, complicates librarians’ ability to enact academic freedom in their daily work. After a brief review of the literature, we share findings from our original research into this topic. We then offer two scenarios that showcase how the familiar, routine work of librarians is subject to scrutiny and pushback in ways that have been normalized and rationalized by higher education colleagues. Throughout the article, we attend to how social identity and positional power affect higher education workers’ experiences of academic freedom. Ultimately, we argue that academic freedom limitations for academic librarians matter in their own right, and also illuminate problems with precarity in higher education as a whole.

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