Ithaka S+R Report: Censorship and Academic Freedom in the Public University Library

[W]e spoke to 10 library leaders from five states with restrictive policies, comparing their experiences to five library leaders in five states without such policies.[2] Based on these interviews, conducted in September and October 2023, we find that:

  • Academic library collections are not being directly censored by policy or subject to large-scale, systematic content challenges.
  • Decisions around collection building are, however, being influenced by state and university policy and politics.
  • University academic freedom policies continue to serve as a defense against content challenges.
  • University and library leadership require an extensive amount of political savvy, balancing commitments to different groups with sometimes differing values or perspectives.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, programs, and units in universities and their libraries are being eliminated, renamed and/or reorganized in a number of states. Even among interviewees who suggest that the underlying services and their impacts will be unhindered, a critical issue is that many of their employees are scared, which is impacting the workplace.
  • Library directors in certain states feel it has become more difficult to recruit and retain top talent, especially when prospective employees or their family members are LGBTQ+.
  • Library directors are seeking opportunities to speak to others at peer institutions about these issues without drawing public attention. They do not want organizations to speak for them or advocate on their behalf, out of fear that it will draw negative attention to their libraries.

| Research Data Curation and Management Works |
| Digital Curation and Digital Preservation Works |
| Open Access Works |
| Digital Scholarship |

Avatar photo

Author: Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr.