Approved at ALA Annual Conference, June 2010.
Revised by the Status of Academic Librarians Standards and Guidelines Review Task Force, January 2021. Approved by the ACRL Board of Directors, April 2021.
II. Promotion in academic rank
III. Tenure (Continuous Appointment)
IV. Termination of appointments
VI. Dismissal procedures
VII. Action by the institutional governing board
VIII. Procedures for imposition of sanctions other than dismissal
IX. Terminal salary or notice
X. Academic freedom and protection against discrimination
XI. Complaints of violation of academic freedom or of discrimination in non-reappointment
XII. Administrative personnel
This Standard for Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure is intended for use where librarians have faculty or academic status. It is intended for application within the context of two ACRL policy statements on faculty status for academic librarians  as well as related statements issued by the American Association of University Professors.  Librarians without faculty status can refer to the “ACRL Standards for Librarians Without Faculty Status."  The objective of this Standard is to propose criteria and procedures for appointment, promotion in academic rank, and tenure (continuous appointment) for use in academic libraries. Utilizing these criteria and procedures will ensure that the library faculty and, therefore, library services will be of the highest quality possible. These criteria are intended to serve as guidelines. These procedures may need to be adjusted in minor detail to conform to existing institutional procedures for other faculty. Any contractual procedures must be observed. Titles may vary by institution.
A. General Policies
- Appointment of librarians shall follow the same procedures that are established for appointing all institutional faculty members. Any librarian appointed to a college or university library faculty shall have the appropriate terminal professional degree. 
- Appointment to any rank shall meet the criteria appropriate to that rank.
- To ensure that only candidates of the highest quality are appointed to the library faculty, there shall be at least one committee representative of the library faculty selected to participate in the reviewing and screening of all candidates, participate in the interview process, and make recommendations for appointment.
- The terms and conditions of every appointment to the library faculty shall be stated and confirmed in writing, and copies of all relevant documents, including the official document of appointment, shall be given to the faculty member. Subsequent extensions or modifications of an appointment shall be stated and confirmed in writing.
- Library faculty applying with previous experience and/or degrees may negotiate a rank or time towards tenure and/or promotion during the hiring process.
B. Probationary Appointments
- Probationary appointments may be for no less than one year, or for other stated periods longer than a year, subject to renewal. The total period of full-time service prior to acquiring tenure shall not exceed seven years, and may include, for example, previous full-time service with the rank of librarian/instructor/equivalent entry-level rank or higher in other institutions of higher learning (except that the probationary period may extend to as much as four years, even if the total full-time service in the profession thereby exceeds seven years; the terms of such extension shall be stated in writing at the time of initial appointment). Scholarly leave of absence for one year or less shall count as part of the probationary period as if it were prior service at another institution, unless the individual and the institution agree in writing to an exception to this provision at the time the leave is granted.
- The faculty member shall be advised in writing at the time of initial appointment of the substantive standards and procedures employed in decisions affecting renewal and tenure. Institutional standards should be clearly documented, as well as any special standards adopted by the library. The faculty member shall be advised in writing of the time when decisions affecting renewal or tenure are made.
- Library faculty who are reassigned to another position during the probationary period should be given credit for outputs in the previous position and flexibility in the timeline, if needed.
- The institution shall normally notify faculty members in writing of the terms and conditions of their renewals by March 15 or three months before the new contract begins.
- Written notice that probationary appointment is not to be renewed shall be given to the faculty member in advance of the expiration of the appointment, as in following examples:
- When a faculty recommendation or a decision not to renew an appointment has first been reached, the faculty member involved shall be informed of that recommendation or decision in writing by the body or individual making the initial recommendation or decision; the faculty member shall be advised upon request of the reasons, which contributed to that decision. The faculty member may request reconsideration through an appeal process by the recommending or deciding body.
- If the faculty member so requests, the reasons given in explanation of the non-renewal shall be confirmed in writing.
- Should the faculty member allege that the decision against renewal was based on inadequate consideration, the committee that reviews the faculty member's allegation shall determine whether the decision was fair in terms of the relevant standards of the institution. The review committee shall not substitute its judgment on the merits for that of the faculty body. If the review committee determines that adequate consideration was not given, it shall request reconsideration by the faculty body, indicating the ways in which it believes the consideration may have been inadequate. It shall provide copies of its findings to the faculty member, the faculty body, and the chief executive officer or other appropriate administrative officer.
A. General Professional and Scholarly Qualifications of the Library Faculty
All activities shall be judged by professional colleagues on and/or off the campus on the basis of their contribution to scholarship, the profession of librarianship, and library service. The basic criterion for promotion in academic rank is to perform professional level tasks that contribute to the educational and research mission of the institution. There should be flexibility and fairness in addressing a request to go up for promotion early or later in the process.
Evidence of this level of performance may be judged by colleagues on the library faculty, members of the academic community outside the library, and/or professional colleagues outside the academic institution.
Additional evidence for promotion in rank may include:
- Contributions to the educational mission of the institution: for example, teaching (not necessarily in a classroom); organization of workshops, institutes or similar meetings; public appearances in the interest of librarianship or information transfer. Assessment by students and professional colleagues may contribute to this evaluation.
- Contributions to the advancement of the profession: for example, active participation in professional and learned societies as a member.
- Activities related to inquiry and research: for example, scholarly publication, presentation of papers, reviews of books and other literature, grants, consulting, service as a member of a team of experts, or other means of disseminating professional expertise.
B. Criteria for Promotion to Specific Ranks
Promotion varies according to the practices of the institution, such as the ranks of assistant professor/librarian, associate professor/librarian, and professor/librarian or equivalent administrative ranks, and requires a record of successful fulfillment of criteria at the lower level. Entry level and academic ranks will vary according to the institution or within the institution:
Instructor - Appointments at this rank shall require expectation of successful overall performance and the potential for a promising career in librarianship. Institutional practice for faculty appointments varies. Specialized skills or expertise may justify appointment at a higher rank.
Lecturer - Appointments at this rank shall require expectation of successful overall performance and the potential for a promising career in librarianship but may have different expectations of service and scholarship than the instructor rank.
Assistant Professor/Librarian - Promotion to this rank shall require evidence of significant professional contributions to the library or to the institution.
Associate Professor/Librarian - Promotion to this rank shall require evidence of substantial professional contributions to the library and to the institution as well as attainment of a high level in research or other professional endeavors.
Professor/Librarian - Promotion to this rank shall require outstanding achievements in librarianship, research, and other professional endeavors.
C. Procedures for Promotion to Specific Ranks
- Candidates for promotion in academic rank shall be considered by a peer review committee formed in accordance with appropriate institutional regulations.
- Recommendations for promotion in academic rank may be made by the appropriate administrator or a member of the library faculty, who shall give the candidate copies of any recommendations or evaluations. These statements shall be retained.
- Documentation in support of candidates for promotion in rank shall include evaluations from the appropriate administrator. Additional documentation may include letters from colleagues, copies and reviews of publications, records of committee activity, etc.
- The peer review committee (see C-1) shall transmit its recommendations, with all supporting documentation, to the chief administrative officer of the library.
- The chief administrative officer (CAO) of the library will receive the recommendations of the committee, make a decision, and so notify the committee. If the CAO of the library does not concur in any particular recommendation, after consultation with the committee, he/she may note such disagreement before notifying the candidate of the recommendations. The CAO of the library shall inform the committee and the candidate in writing of the recommendations before transmitting the recommendations of the committee and the CAO of the library to the appropriate institutional officer. The candidate then will have the opportunity to respond in writing to the recommendations. After this, the CAO of the library will submit his/her recommendation, the recommendation of the committee, and any responses from these parties or from the candidate, to the appropriate institutional officer.
- If the candidate for promotion believes there are substantial grounds for disagreement with a denial of promotion, appropriate institutional regulations shall be provided so that the case may be properly reviewed. The unsuccessful candidate may file a grievance as specified in Section V.
- Tenure, or continuous appointment, is defined as an institutional commitment to permanent employment to be terminated only for adequate cause (for example, incompetence, malfeasance, mental or physical disability, bona fide financial exigency) and only after due process. Tenure shall be available to librarians in accordance with provisions for all faculty of the institution.
- The criteria for tenure are closely allied to the criteria for promotion in academic rank. The relationship between tenure and rank shall be the same for library faculty as for other faculty in the institution. These criteria include performance, scholarship, and service.
- A candidate for tenure shall be reviewed according to established institutional regulations, which shall be similar to those described above for promotion in academic rank.
- There should be flexibility and fairness in addressing a request to go up for tenure early or later in the process.
A. Termination of Appointment by the Individual
Faculty members may terminate their appointments, provided that they give notice in writing at the earliest possible opportunity, or within 30 days after receiving notification of the terms of appointment for the coming year. Faculty members may properly request a waiver of this requirement of notice in case of hardship or in a situation where they would otherwise be denied substantial professional advancement or other opportunity.
B. Termination of Appointments by the Institution
- Termination of an appointment with continuous tenure, or of a probationary or special appointment before the end of the specified term, may be affected by the institution only for adequate cause.
- If termination takes the form of a dismissal for cause, it shall be pursuant to the procedures specified in section VI below.
- Financial Exigency
a. Termination of an appointment with continuous tenure, or of a probationary or special appointment before the end of the specified term, may occur under extraordinary circumstances because of a demonstrably bona fide financial exigency, i.e., an imminent financial crisis that threatens the survival of the institution as a whole and that cannot be alleviated by less drastic means.
[Note: Each institution in adopting regulations on financial exigency will need to decide how to share and allocate the hard judgments and decisions that are necessary in such a crisis.
As a first step, there should be a faculty body that participates in the decision that a condition of financial exigency exists or is imminent, and that all feasible alternatives to termination of appointments have been pursued
Judgments determining where within the overall academic program termination of appointments may occur involve considerations of educational policy, including affirmative action, as well as of faculty status, and should therefore be the primary responsibility of the faculty or of an appropriate faculty body. The faculty or an appropriate faculty body should also exercise primary responsibility in determining the criteria for identifying the individuals whose appointments are to be terminated. These criteria may appropriately include considerations of length of service.
The responsibility for identifying individuals whose appointments are to be terminated should be committed to a person or group designated or approved by the faculty. The allocation of this responsibility may vary according to the size and character of the institution, the extent of the terminations to be made, or other considerations of fairness in judgment. The case of a faculty member given notice of proposed termination of appointment will be governed by the following procedures.]
b. If the administration issues notice to a particular faculty member of an intention to terminate the appointment because of financial exigency, the faculty member shall have the right to a full hearing before a faculty committee. The hearing need not conform in all respects with a proceeding conducted pursuant to Section VI, but the essentials of an on-the-record adjudicative hearing shall be observed.
The issues in this hearing may include:
1. The existence and extent of the condition of financial exigency. The burden will rest on the administration to prove the existence and extent of the condition. The findings of a faculty committee in a previous proceeding involving the same issue may be introduced.
2. The validity of the educational judgments and the criteria for identification for termination; but the recommendations of a faculty body on these matters will be considered presumptively valid.
3. Whether the criteria are being properly applied in the individual case.
c. If the institution, because of financial exigency, terminates appointments, it will not at the same time make new appointments except in extraordinary circumstances where a serious distortion in the library would otherwise result. The appointment of a faculty member with tenure will not be terminated in favor of retaining a faculty member without tenure, except in extraordinary circumstances where a serious distortion of the library would otherwise result.
d. Before terminating an appointment because of financial exigency, the institution, with faculty participation, shall make every effort to place the faculty member concerned in another suitable position within the institution.
e. In all cases of termination of appointment because of financial exigency, the faculty member concerned shall be given notice or severance salary not less than as prescribed in Section IX.
f. In all cases of termination of appointment because of financial exigency, the place of the faculty member concerned shall not be filled by a replacement within a period of three years, unless the released faculty member has been offered reinstatement and a reasonable time in which to accept or decline it.
- Discontinuation of a Program or Department Not Mandated by Financial Exigency
a. The decision to discontinue formally a library unit, program or department of instruction shall be based essentially upon educational considerations, as determined primarily by the faculty as a whole or an appropriate committee thereof. [Note: “Educational considerations” do not include cyclical or temporary variations in enrollment. They must reflect long-range judgments that the educational mission of the institution as a whole will be enhanced by the discontinuance.]
b. Before the administration issues notice to a faculty member of its intention to terminate an appointment because of formal discontinuance of a library unit, program or department of instruction, the institution shall make every effort to place the faculty member concerned in another suitable position. If placement in another position would be facilitated by a reasonable period of training, financial and other support for such training will be proffered. If no position is available within the institution, with or without retraining, the faculty member’s appointment then may be terminated, but only with provision for severance salary equitably adjusted to the faculty member’s length of past and potential service.
[Note: When an institution proposes to discontinue a program or department of instruction, it should plan to bear the costs of relocating, training, or otherwise compensating faculty members adversely affected.]
c. A faculty member may appeal a proposed relocation or termination resulting from a discontinuance and has a right to a full hearing before a faculty committee. The hearing need not conform in all respects with a proceeding conducted pursuant to Section VI, but the essentials of an on-the-record adjudicative hearing will be observed. The issues in such a hearing may include the institution’s failure to satisfy any of the conditions specified in this section. In such a hearing a faculty determination that a program or department is to be discontinued will be considered presumptively valid, but the burden of proof on other issues shall rest on the administration.
- Termination Because of Physical or Mental Disability
In cases of termination of appointment, the governing board shall be available for ultimate review.
In the event that an amicable solution cannot be reached between the two parties, a grievance procedure shall be provided by the institution. The general criteria for a grievance procedure include:
- The procedure shall be equitable to both parties.
- The procedure shall state clearly what is to be done, when, and by whom.
- The term "grievance", as well as any other terms which could be misunderstood, shall be clearly defined.
- The procedures should be accessible to and easy to initiate by all members of the library faculty.
- Steps in the procedure shall be completed within specified time limits. Additional time shall be allowed as the grievance moves to higher levels.
- There shall be effective safeguards against reprisal for initiating or participating in a grievance proceeding and against abuse of the procedures.
- Any procedure must be consistent with applicable institutional regulations and contracts.
- Termination of any appointment, other than by expiration, may be made for adequate cause. Adequate cause for a dismissal shall be related, directly and substantially, to the fitness of faculty members in their professional capacities as librarians. The dismissal procedure shall include a written statement of adequate cause. Dismissal shall not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom.
- Dismissal of a faculty member with continuous tenure, or with a special or probationary appointment before the end of the specified term, shall be preceded by:
a. Discussions between the faculty member and appropriate administrative officers looking toward a mutual settlement;
b. Inquiry by the duly elected faculty or peer review committee that will make a non-binding recommendation to continue or cancel dismissal proceedings; and
c. A statement of charges, framed by the chief executive officer or the CEO’s delegate.
- The individual concerned shall have the right to address the elected faculty or peer review hearing committee. Librarians have a right to appeal a decision for non-renewal of an appointment based on their institutional guidelines for faculty.
a. Pending a final decision by the hearing committee, the faculty member shall be assigned to other duties in lieu of suspension and suspended only if his/her continued presence poses a significant danger.
b. The hearing committee may, with the consent of the parties concerned, hold joint pre-hearing meetings with the parties to stipulate the facts, provide for the exchange of documentary or other information, and achieve other appropriate prehearing objectives to make the hearing fair, effective, and expeditious.
c. The faculty member may waive a hearing or may respond to the charges in writing at any time before the hearing. If the faculty member waives a hearing, the committee shall evaluate all available evidence and submit its recommendation upon the evidence in the record.
d. The committee, in consultation with the chief executive officer and the faculty member, shall determine whether the hearing shall be public or private.
e. During the proceedings, the faculty member shall be permitted to have an academic advisor and counsel of the faculty member's choice.
f. At the request of either party or the hearing committee, a representative of a responsible educational association shall be permitted to attend the proceedings as an observer.
g. A verbatim record of all hearings shall be taken and a copy made available to the faculty member without cost, on request.
h. The burden of proving adequate cause rests with the institution and shall be satisfied only by clear and convincing evidence in the record considered as a whole.
i. The faculty member shall have the opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses, documentation, or other evidence. The administration shall cooperate with the hearing committee in securing witnesses, documentation and other evidence.
j. The faculty member and the administration shall have the right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses. When the witnesses cannot or shall not appear, but the committee determines that the interests of justice require admission of their statements, the committee shall identify the witnesses, disclose their statements, and, if possible, provide for interrogatories.
k. In the hearing of charges of incompetence, the testimony shall include that of qualified librarians.
l. The hearing committee shall not be bound by strict rules of legal evidence. It may admit any evidence, which is of probative value in determining the issues. Every possible effort shall be made to obtain the most reliable evidence.
m. The findings of fact and the decision shall be based solely on the hearing record.
n. Except for simple necessary announcements that cover the time of the hearing and similar matters, all parties shall avoid public statements and publicity about the case until the proceedings have been completed.
o. If the hearing committee concludes that adequate cause for dismissal has not been established by the evidence in the record, it shall so report to the president or CEO of the institution. If the president/CEO rejects the report, he/she shall state the reasons for doing so, in writing, to the hearing committee and to the faculty member, and shall provide an opportunity for response before transmitting the case to the governing board. If the hearing committee concludes that an academic penalty less than dismissal is more appropriate, it shall so recommend with supporting reasons
If dismissal or other severe sanction is recommended, the president shall, on request of the faculty member, transmit the record of the case to the governing board. The governing board's review shall be based on the record of the committee hearing. This review shall provide opportunity for the principals or their representatives to make oral and/or written arguments. The governing boards shall either sustain the decision of the hearing committee, or return the findings to the committee with specific objections. The committee shall then reconsider, taking into account these objections, and receiving new evidence if necessary. The governing board shall make a final decision only after study of the committee's reconsideration.
- If the administration believes that the conduct of a faculty member does not constitute adequate cause for dismissal, but is sufficiently grave to justify imposition of a severe sanction, such as suspension from service for a stated period, the administration may institute a proceeding to impose such a severe sanction. The procedures outlined in Section VI shall govern such a proceeding.
- If the administration believes that the conduct of a faculty member justifies the imposition of a minor sanction, such as a reprimand, it shall notify the faculty member of the basis of the proposed sanction. The faculty member shall have an opportunity to persuade the administration that the proposed sanction not be imposed. A faculty member who believes that a major or minor sanction has been incorrectly imposed, may, pursuant to Section V, petition the faculty grievance committee for such action as may be appropriate.
If the appointment is terminated, the faculty member shall receive salary or notice in accordance with the following schedule:
This provision for terminal notice or salary need not apply in the event that there has been a finding that the conduct, which justified dismissal, involved malfeasance. On the recommendation of the faculty hearing committee or the chief executive officer, the governing board may take into account the length and quality of service of the faculty member in determining what, if any, payments shall be made beyond the effective date of dismissal.
- All members of the faculty, whether tenured or not, are entitled to academic freedom as set forth in the 1940 "Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure," formulated by the Association of American Colleges and the American Association of University Professors.
- All members of the faculty, whether tenured or not, are entitled to protection against illegal or unconstitutional discrimination by the institution, or discrimination on a basis not demonstrably related to the faculty member's professional performance, including but not limited to race, color, religion or creed, gender, gender expression, age, national origin or ancestry, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, political affiliation, or citizenship.
If a faculty member on probationary or other non-tenured appointment alleges that a decision against reappointment was based significantly on considerations which violate either academic freedom or policies of nondiscrimination with respect to race, color, religion or creed, gender, gender expression, age, national origin or ancestry, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, political affiliation, or citizenship shall be first considered by the appropriate committee. This committee shall try to settle the matter by informal methods. The allegation of violation shall be accompanied by the faculty member’s statement consenting to the institution’s presentation of supporting evidence to the committee. An unresolved matter shall be heard in the manner set forth in Sections VI and VII, except that the faculty member making the complaint is responsible for stating the grounds upon which the allegations of violation are based, and the burden of proof shall rest upon the faculty member. If the faculty member succeeds in establishing a prima facie case, it is incumbent upon those who made the decision against reappointment to present evidence in support of the decision. Statistical evidence of improper discrimination may be used in establishing a prima facie case.
The foregoing regulations apply to administrative personnel who hold academic rank, but only in their capacity as faculty members. The procedures set forth in Section XI apply to termination or non-reappointment to an administrative post. Administrators who allege a violation of academic freedom or of governing policies against improper discrimination are entitled to these procedures.
1. "Standards for Faculty Status for Academic Librarians," approved by ACRL and ALA, January 2001; "Joint Statement on Faculty Status of College and University Librarians," drafted by a committee of the Association of American Colleges (AAC), the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL); endorsed by ACRL, June 1972, and by AAUP, April 1973. Reaffirmed by ACRL, June 2001 and 2007. Additional revisions were made by a subcommittee of ACRL along with representatives of the AAUP in June 2012 and approved by the ACRL Board of Directors in October 2012. The statement was reaffirmed by the ACRL Board of Directors in April 2018.
2. "Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure." Much of the original Model Statement was drawn from earlier versions of this statement.
3. See the “ACRL Guidelines for Librarians Without Faculty Status.”
4. See the ACRL "Statement on the Terminal Professional Degree for Academic Librarians."
About the Guidelines
These Guidelines are a revision of the Model Statement of Criteria and Procedures for Appointment, Promotion in Academic Rank and Tenure for College and University Librarians first issued by ACRL in 1973 and revised in 1987. The ACRL Board charged the Committee on the Status of Academic Librarians with the task of revising this document. The revision process began in January 2003 under the chairmanship of Bill Nelson, Augusta State University. The final revision was completed under the chairmanship of Sharon McCaslin, Fontbonne University, with a draft published in the April 2005 College & Research Libraries News. Following the recommendation of the ACRL Standards and Accreditation Committee (SAC), the title was changed to Guidelines rather than Model Statement. The Guidelines were approved by SAC and subsequently approved by the ACRL Board in June 2005. The previous Model Statement was rescinded.
The guidelines were reviewed and revised in 2009 and 2010. Members of the 2009-2010 ACRL Committee on the Status of Academic Librarians were: Sandra Hawes, Saint Leo University; Connie Strittmatter, Montana State University; Gloria Creed-Dikeogu, Ottawa University; Patricia M. Duck, University of Pittsburgh; Bradford L. Eden, University of California, Santa Barbara; Kevin Gunn, Catholic University of America; Carol A. Leibiger, University of South Dakota; and Mark McBride, Buffalo State College.
The document was again reviewed and revised from 2018-2021 by the ACRL Status of Academic Librarians Standards and Guidelines Review Task Force and approved by the Board of Directors in April 2021. Members of the ACRL Status of Academic Librarians Standards and Guidelines Review Task Force were Julia Gelfand (chair), Nancy Fawley, Courtney Mlinar, and Christopher Proctor. Jessica Brangiel, Jan Kemp, and Sally Neal were members of the task force from 2018-19.