Consider nominating a defender of intellectual freedom

Awards, Intellectual Freedom Round Table

By: Allyson Mower

Think about the principles of intellectual freedom:

  • Freedom to access information
  • Freedom to read and explore ideas
  • Freedom to think independently
  • Freedom to express ideas, thoughts, and opinions
  • Freedom to choose publication outlets and publicity

Then think about the range of events that challenged these principles throughout 2019 and how librarians, authors, and other information professionals responded to them (the links take you to the details listed in Intellectual Freedom News):

Newspapers canceled. Story hours protested. Information seekers surveilled online and in libraries. Speakers and authors disinvited from events. Book hiding and book burning.

There have been an increased number of popular books written about information access and content creation, such as:

From these news stories, you can find many librarians and intellectual freedom advocates responding courageously to these anti-intellectual freedom occurrences. From this, consider nominating an individual, group, or book for an intellectual freedom award from the American Library Association (ALA). I am thinking of submitting Shoshana Zuboff’s book for the Oboler Award. Perhaps you have other librarians and/or authors from your local community in mind for the other awards.

Intellectual Freedom Round Table

ALA offers several IF awards. Three come from the Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT). One comes from the Public Library Association (PLA) and one from the American Association of School Libraries (AASL)

The three awards from IFRT include:

  • Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award – The Hodges Award recognizes an intellectual freedom focused organization that has developed a strong multi-year, ongoing program or a single, one-year project that exemplifies support for intellectual freedom, patron confidentiality, and anti-censorship efforts. Deadline is January 1, 2020.
  • John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award – The Immroth Award honors notable contributions to intellectual freedom and demonstrations of personal courage in defense of freedom of expression. Deadline is December 1, 2019. 
  • Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award – The Oboler Award honors a literary work or series of works, in the area of intellectual freedom, including matters of ethical, political, or social concerns related to intellectual freedom. Deadline is December 1, 2019.

The awards from PLA and AASL include:

Consider nominating a defender of intellectual freedom!

Allyson Mower

Allyson Mower, MA, MLIS is Head of Scholarly Communication & Copyright at the University of Utah Marriott Library. She’s very curious about curiosity, what drives people to uncover information, and how libraries of all types create demand for knowledge. As a tenured faculty member, she researches the history of academic freedom — a kind of intellectual freedom — and the history of authorship and scholarly communication at the institution. She provides the U of U community and the general public with information, tools, and services related to both copyright and publishing. Allyson was a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2008, was nominated as a 2012 Society for Scholarly Publishing Emerging Leader, and served as the U of U Academic Senate President in 2014. Find her on Twitter @allysonmower.

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