Academic Freedom and Copyright Ownership bargaining proposal

This post reflects the opening statement presented by the UC-AFT Table Team on 4/27/18 at UC Irvine, presented to the UC Bargaining Team as background information for the proposed new article on Academic Freedom.

  1. Academic Freedom

UC-AFT proposes that changes be made to Article 1, and continued in more detail in this new article, to articulate in the MOU that librarians are afforded the same protections under the principles of academic freedom as currently granted to senate faculty, lecturers, and students.

Librarians are already recognized as academics

In existing language found article 1 the Unit 17 MOU, it is clearly stated that librarians are considered academics:

  • Article 1.C:“The terms “librarian” or “librarians” in this Agreement, whether specifically stated or not when used, shall refer to librarians who are in the bargaining unit covered by this Agreement. The University recognizes librarians as academic employees.”

In several other places, the academic nature of librarian work is acknowledged, and librarians are encouraged to publish research articles, books, and/or other forms of scholarly output.

  • Article 3.A.:“Choice of other activities such as study, writing, research, public service, and requests to attend workshops, institutes, and conferences, as well as the choice of professional organizations in which to be active, are left to the discretion of the individual librarian.”
  • Article 4.C.2.d. “Research by practicing librarians has a growing importance as library, bibliographic, and information management activities become more demanding and complex. Librarian engagement in academic research enhances their ability to relate their functions to the more general goals of the university. It is therefore appropriate to take research into account in measuring a librarian’s professional development. The evaluation of such research or other creative activity should be qualitative and not merely quantitative and should be made in comparison with the activity and quality appropriate to the candidate’s areas of expertise. Note should be taken of continued and effective endeavor. This may include authoring, editing, reviewing or compiling books, articles, reports, handbooks, manuals, and/or similar products which are submitted or published during the period under review.”

What is Academic Freedom?

The most concise history and description of academic freedom can be found in Democracy, Expertise, Academic Freedom: A First Amendment Jurisprudence for the Modern State, by Robert C. Post:

“The first and arguably greatest articulation of the logic and structure of academic freedom in America was the 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure, published by the newly formed American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The concept of academic freedom advanced in the Declaration was later incorporated in the canonical 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which has been endorsed by over [250] educational organizations and which has become “the general norm of academic practice in the United States.”

The 1915 Declaration defined academic freedom as consisting of three components: “Academic freedom… comprises three elements: freedom of inquiry and research; freedom of teaching within the university or college; and freedom of extramural utterance and action.” Twenty-five years later these same three components of academic freedom were reaffirmed in the 1940 Statement.”

The 1940 Statement includes the following:

“The purpose of this statement is to promote public understanding and support of academic freedom and tenure and agreement upon procedures to ensure them in colleges and universities. Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.

Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning. It carries with it duties correlative with rights…

Why should Academic Librarians be guaranteed Academic Freedom?

The “Association of College and Research Libraries Joint Statement on Faculty Status of College and University Librarians” was prepared by the Joint Committee on College Library Problems, a national committee representing the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Association of American Colleges (now the Association of American Colleges and Universities), and the American Association of University Professors. It contains the following passage:

“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. Moreover, as members of the academic community, librarians should have latitude in the exercise of their professional judgment within the library, a share in shaping policy within the institution, and adequate opportunities for professional development and appropriate reward.”

Of course, UC Librarians do not have faculty status.  ACRL anticipated the needs of Academic Librarians in such a situation, and simultaneously produced Guidelines for Academic Librarians Without Faculty Status. Its preamble states:

“ACRL supports faculty rank, status, and tenure for librarians but recognizes that not all academic institutions provide faculty status to their librarians. To ensure that their rights, privileges, and responsibilities reflect their integral role in the mission of their institutions, ACRL has developed the following guidelines for academic librarians without faculty status.”

It then lays out 9 guidelines in the hiring and employment of academic librarians:

  1. Professional responsibilities
  2. Governance
  3. Contracts
  4. Compensation
  5. Promotion and salary increases
  6. Leaves and research funds
  7. Academic freedom
  8. Dismissal or nonreappointment
  9. Grievance

The Unit 17 MOU is consistent in some degree with the other 8 guidelines laid out by ACRL, but does not address guideline #7, which states the following:

“Academic freedom: Librarians are entitled to the protection of academic freedom as set forth in the American Association of University Professors 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.”

ACRL reiterated this stance in their 2015 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” (2008) states that “we are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information.” In the context of higher education, 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” (2012) 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 Association of College and Research Libraries, in accordance with our professional standards and stated commitments, opposes any actions that limit the free expression of ideas of librarians and faculty on campus, in the classroom, in writing, and in the public sphere, especially in the context of higher education and its traditional support for academic freedom.  Further, the Association of College and Research Libraries opposes retaliation for the expression of those ideas. A free and vigorous exchange of ideas is integral to sustaining an environment in which teaching, learning, and research may thrive.

Approved by the ACRL Board of Directors during the ALA Annual Conference, June 2015

Academic librarians are day-to-day champions of intellectual freedom, and its institutional cousin, academic freedom.  It is rooted in the ethics of our field, and librarians have risked their livelihoods and sometimes their lives to protect it through the age of McCarthyism, through the PATRIOT act and its impact on libraries, and through countless conflicts in and out of the public eye.  To those who have an imperative to treasure and defend intellectual freedom in all its forms enshrined in our profession’s code of ethics, it is deeply ironic to be denied such freedoms.

We hope and believe that the majority of library administration will agree wholeheartedly with the necessity of our academic librarians to be guaranteed academic freedom.

Incorporating Academic Freedom into the MOU

This is accomplished with some additional language in Article 1.C., right after the existing acknowledgement that librarians are academic employees, articulating that librarians enjoy academic freedom as a right.

Then, in the new Article, Academic Freedom is further articulated in section A as “extend[ing] to librarians through all applicable provisions of University policy.” Section B grants LAUC the authority to develop and administer a process to resolve disputes and grievances on matters of academic freedom.

LAUC could choose to simply use the provisions of APM 10 and 15 as guide documents in any disputes of academic freedom.  Should that approach prove unsatisfactory to LAUC, they could choose to articulate a librarian code of conduct. The current MOU for Unit 18, the “Lecturer contract,” addresses Academic Freedom in this manner by articulating “Standards of Conduct and Duties and Responsibilities,” which is more concise than, but generally consistent with, language in APM 015.

We do not think it appropriate to negotiate such a code at the bargaining table.  We think it appropriate to lay out governing principles and put a frame around procedures. LAUC, the deliberative academic collective of librarians in the UCs, should carefully determine standards of academic conduct particular to the study of library and information science and its practical application in academic librarianship.  If they determine the APM’s Faculty Code of Conduct is not sufficiently applicable, they can parse out what does apply and what does not, and assemble a librarian code of conduct consistent with APM 15’s principles.

It would seem logical to place the governance and grievance of academic freedom violations with LAUC, our mechanism of governance for review in many other aspects similar to Academic Senate governance over faculty.

  1. Copyright Ownership

Librarians should be explicitly named in the UC Copyright Ownership policies, so they have the same right to their scholarly and aesthetic works granted explicitly to faculty, students, and other specific classes of employees in academic roles.  

UC has a long-standing Policy on Copyright Ownership:

See the full policy for more details, but essentially: “A scholarly/aesthetic work is a work originated by a designated academic appointee resulting from independent academic effort. Ownership of copyrights to scholarly/aesthetic works shall reside with the designated academic appointee originator…”

The policy defines Designated Academic Appointees as such: “Those University employees who have a general obligation to produce scholarly/ aesthetic works. Included are all appointees in the Professor series, In-Residence series, and the Professional Research series. Appointees in other academic titles may also be designated by the appropriate Chancellor or Vice President as having the obligation to produce scholarly/aesthetic works.”

The problem lies in the last sentence; librarians are not specifically named, but they “may also be designated by the appropriate Chancellor or Vice President.” (emphasis added)  We need Librarians to be specifically named as “Designated Academic Appointees” for the purposes of this policy.

When a librarian writes an article and it is accepted for publication in a scholarly journal, they typically sign an author agreement with the publisher that transfers or licenses copyright to the publisher. At present, librarian authors typically sign such agreements without gaining formal consent from the university, and generally no one objects to this practice. If librarians on any campus are not explicitly “designated by the appropriate Chancellor or Vice President as having the obligation to produce scholarly/aesthetic works,”  they do not own the copyright to their scholarly work.  If that is the case, librarian authors technically and legally need permission from the proper campus authority before publishing in this manner; It is improper for them to transfer copyright to the publisher when they are not clearly empowered to do so.  If that becomes the status quo – requiring the approval of administration to transfer copyright and publish an article – it will not allow librarians to genuinely retain the authority over their own professional development choices as articulated in Article 3.A.

This change would simply correct a hole in policy, and align with the default practice of librarians, which library administration seldom (if ever) objects to.  It reduces the waste of staff time and resources necessary to obtain formal permission from the proper campus authority. It insures equal treatment of librarians on this issue across the 10-campus system, removing the possibility of unequal treatment across the bargaining unit.

Lest anyone fear the University would lose access to works created in such a manner, remember the UC Presidential Open Access Policy still applies and requires all librarians to post a copy of their published scholarly articles in eScholarship.  This new language would not change that.

Similarly, in the supplementary UC Policy on Ownership of Course Materials,

the University must recognize Librarians as “Designated Instructional Appointees.”

While scholarly articles written by librarians are benignly neglected and treated as the property of librarian authors, other scholarly and aesthetic items created by librarians in the course of their library work (lesson plans, slides, handouts, bibliographies, libguides, videos, etc.) are, at present, generally considered “work for hire” and therefore treated as property of the UC Regents.

Such materials on the UCLA Library website, and many other campuses, are made available for reuse through a creative commons license, regardless of the wishes of the librarian(s) who authored them. To be clear, many if not most librarians would still likely make most of their works available for reuse through a creative commons license, as is the common practice in our field.

But it is not unreasonable to assume an ambitious librarian, looking to fulfill their duties under Criterion 4,  would develop a series of lesson plans or presentation slides into a resource guide, a scholarly article, or even a textbook on a topic of interest in our profession, such as “Information Literacy,” or on “Managing Rights Issues in Text and Data Mining Research.”  If such smaller, more incremental pieces of scholarly and aesthetic work are treated differently, it does not allow librarians to build upon these works and assemble more recognizable, formal scholarship in any reasonable manner, and does not allow them to genuinely retain the authority over their own professional development choices as articulated in Article 3.A.

The Ownership of Course Materials policy already insures that such works are licensed in perpetuity to the university, for potential reuse of instructional materials by library staff if/when the copyright owner has separated from the university.

Librarians have informed library administration of these holes in policy, but the policy problem persists.  Hence its inclusion in our proposed article 35 on Academic Freedom in the MOU.

Works Cited / Suggestions for further reading

“ACRL Guidelines for Academic Librarians Without Faculty Status”, American Library Association, September 6, 2006. (Accessed April 22, 2018)

“ACRL Joint Statement on Faculty Status of College and University Librarians”, American Library Association, September 6, 2006. (Accessed April 22, 2018)

“ACRL Statement on Academic Freedom”, American Library Association, July 31, 2015. (Accessed April 22, 2018)

“Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries”, American Library Association, July 26, 2006. (Accessed April 22, 2018)

“Professional Ethics”, American Library Association, May 19, 2017. (Accessed April 22, 2018)

Danner, R. A. and Bintliff, B. (2006), “Academic Freedom Issues for Academic Librarians.” Legal Reference Services Quarterly 25: 20.

DelFattore, J. (2010). Knowledge in the making: Academic freedom and free speech in America’s schools and universities. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Dreyfuss, S. & Ryan, M. (2016). Academic Freedom: The Continuing Challenge. portal: Libraries and the Academy 16(1), 1-9. Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved April 22, 2018, from Project MUSE database.

Jones, B. M. (1999). Libraries, access, and intellectual freedom: Developing policies for public and academic libraries. Chicago: American Library Association.

Jones, B. M., & American Library Association. (2009). Protecting intellectual freedom in your academic library: Scenarios from the front lines. Chicago: American Library Association. Bottom of Form

Mann, J.D. (2017) Intellectual Freedom, Academic Freedom, and the Academic Librarian. JAF: AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, Vol. 8.

Post, R.C.  Democracy, Expertise, Academic Freedom: A First Amendment Jurisprudence for the Modern State. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Kandiuk, M., Sonne de Torrens, Woodsworth, A. (2015). Librarians in a Litigious Age and the Attack on Academic Freedom. Current issues in libraries, information science and related fields. 39, 3-45.


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