The Iowa Library Association (ILA) has received the 2018 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award for taking a leadership role in several highly visible challenges to intellectual freedom. The award is given annually by the faculty of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and cosponsored by Libraries Unlimited.
The ILA and its Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) were cited for their sustained commitment. Three recent examples are:
- 2015: For working with the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom to reinstate Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian in the Waterloo (IA) Community School District curriculum.
- 2017: For defending the retention of Peter Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower in the AP English curriculum of Hempstead High School in Dubuque after the book was challenged.
- 2018: For offering support and guidance to the Orange City Public Library following challenges to the inclusion of LGBTQ books in the library’s collection and a subsequent burning of those books by a nonresident that was shared on YouTube.
In addition, the ILA and IFC have taken a proactive approach to meeting threats to intellectual freedom and the First Amendment. They have partnered with the ACLU of Iowa to raise awareness of intellectual freedom issues and sponsored a session with trustees of Iowa libraries to discuss the importance of being proactive in a challenge-prone environment and how to respond when challenges occur.
A reception to honor the ILA will take place during the Midwinter Meeting of the ALA in Seattle, Washington, on Saturday, January 26, 2019.
The Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award is presented annually to acknowledge individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it affects libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. The award was established in 1969 by the iSchool’s faculty to honor Robert Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on his twenty-fifth anniversary as director of the School.
Click here for more details on the Illinois iSchool website.