Academic freedom is the conviction that the freedom of inquiry by faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy as well as the principles of academia, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts (including those that are inconvenient to external political groups or to authorities) without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment.
"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."
1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, American Association of University Professors
This page is managed by ALA’s Office for the Intellectual Freedom, dedicated to preserving First Amendment rights in libraries.
ALA Statements and Policies on Academic Freedom
- ALA Resolution in Support of Academic Freedom (2006)
- Guidelines for Academic Status for College and University Librarians (ACRL 2011)
- Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (2014)
A strong intellectual freedom perspective is critical to the development of academic library collections and services that dispassionately meet the education and research needs of a college or university community. The purpose of this statement is to outline how and where intellectual freedom principles fit into an academic library setting, thereby raising consciousness of the intellectual freedom context within which academic librarians work.
- Joint Statement on Faculty Status of College and University Librarians (ACRL, AAUP, AAC 2012)
American Association of University Professors
The AAUP is a nonprofit membership association of faculty and other academic professionals.
- Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure (1940)
- Academic Bill of Rights (2003)
- Academic Freedom and National Security in a Time of Crisis 2003)
- Journal of Academic Freedom
- Trigger Warnings (2014)
Recorded: September 30, 2015
Publications and Articles
DelFattore, Joan. 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. "Academic Freedom: The Continuing Challenge." Libraries and the Academy, vol. 16 no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-9.
“The constitutions of many countries grant a separate right to free learning, teaching, and research. In the United States, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that academic freedom is a constitutional right under the First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” In 1957, the court summarized the “four essential freedoms” that constitute academic freedom for a university. Academic freedom, the court said, means that an institution can “determine for itself on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it should be taught, and who may be admitted to study.”
Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234 (1957).
Jones, Barbara, and American Library Association. 2009. Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your Academic Library : Scenarios from the Front Lines. Chicago: American Library Association.
Assistance and Consultation
The staff of the Office for Intellectual Freedom is available to answer questions or provide assistance to librarians, trustees, educators, and the public about academic freedom. Areas of assistance include policy development, First Amendment issues, and professional ethics. Inquiries can be directed via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (312) 280-4226.