We welcome the appointment of James LaRue, Director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, and Executive Director, Freedom to Read Foundation, effective January 4, 2016. In his application, LaRue noted “My passion for this core principle of librarianship is tightly bound with my own history….For me, librarianship – and life – is predicated on a respect for the fundamental dignity of individual inquiry.”
James LaRue brings a rich and diverse background to this role. He is currently CEO of LaRue & Associates, with an active career in writing, speaking and consulting. Previously, he was director of the Douglas County Libraries (Colorado) and Library Services Director at the Greeley Public Library (Colorado), with earlier positions at the Lincoln Library (Illinois) and Illinois State University.
LaRue also brings a long history of professional engagement. Among his many activities, he has served on the Bibliographic Center for Research (BCR) Board of Trustees, OCLC Membership Council, and Douglas County Youth Initiative Executive Board. He was president of the Colorado Council for Library Development (2002-2003) and president of the Colorado Library Association (1998-1999). He was named Colorado Librarian of the Year in 1998 and received the Julia J. Boucher Award for Intellectual Freedom from the Colorado Library Association in 2007. In 2004, he was awarded the National Council of Teachers of English/Support for the Learning and Teaching of English Intellectual Freedom Award.
Within ALA, he has most recently been active on ALA’s Digital Content Working Group (2011–). He is a member of the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) and Public Library Association (PLA), both divisions of the American Library Association, and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table.
A prolific writer and frequent speaker, his publications include “Self-Publishing: Does It Belong in the Collection,” in Rethinking Collection Development and Management; “The Last One Standing,” Public Libraries (January/February 2002); “Tough Times and Eight Ways to Deal with Them,” American Libraries (January/February 2010); and, The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges (2007), among others. He regularly speaks on a range of topics, from libraries in the digital world to leadership and transformation.
James LaRue has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science (University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana) and a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and English (Illinois State University).
As Director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), James LaRue will work with ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) and Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE), as well as the Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT). OIF provides information to individuals and organizations facing intellectual freedom challenges; plans and promotes initiatives that promote intellectual freedom, privacy and free access to information (including Banned Books Week); and, works closely with others, including the ALA Washington Office, on core information policy issues. The OIF Director also serves as the executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, an allied 501(c)(3) organization, and as secretariat for the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund.
LaRue’s appointment follows the December 31, 2015 retirement of Barbara M. Jones as the Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom.