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Contact: Bernadette Murphy
ALA Washington Office
(202) 628-8410 x. 8236
For Immediate Release
March 1, 2006

Librarians mark 40th anniversary of Freedom of Information Act
with “Sunshine Week” events


(WASHINGTON, DC) Hurricane Katrina highlighted massive government failures to provide up-to-date and accurate information to the public both before and after the failure of the levees.  Recent news accounts of tragedies in mines show public safety threats are exacerbated when the government inappropriately withholds information.  A commitment to more transparency can ensure the public gets timely information before a disaster strikes.


This year marks the 40th anniversary of the federal Freedom of Information Act and librarians and others are marking the occasion with Sunshine Week (March 12-18)—a series of events co-sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and organizations representing librarians, journalists, and people dedicated to open access and open government. Sunshine Week is intended to raise awareness of the importance of open government to the public. This year it will be celebrated with several exciting events, including:



Are We Safer in the Dark? A Dialogue on Open Government and Secrecy

In celebration of Sunshine Week, a panel of experts from around the country will discuss open government and secrecy – the problems confronted, the impacts on communities, and what the public can do. The panel will be broadcast from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and will link via satellite to locally-sponsored discussions in communities across the country. Libraries interested in hosting local discussions can register, by March 6th, at:


When: Monday, March 13, 2006, 1:00pm - 2:30pm ET. Local programs will follow.

More information on this program can be found at:


2006 Freedom of Information (FOI) Day Conference
This year’s conference will be held on Thursday, March 16, at the Freedom Forum’s World Center in Arlington, Va. The annual symposium brings together access advocates, government officials, lawyers, librarians, journalists, educators and others to discuss the latest issues and developments in freedom of information.


At a ceremony during the FOI Day conference the American Library Association will present the James Madison Award to Steve Aftergood, creator of “Secrecy News” and the Project on Government Secrecy Web site. The Madison Award, named for President James Madison, was established in 1989 and is presented annually on the anniversary of his birth to honor those who have championed, protected, and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know. Aftergood is a widely respected and effective advocate for government accountability and transparency.


The Georgia First Amendment Foundation will also be honored at FOIA Day. The Foundation and its publication, “Georgia Law Enforcement and the Open Records Act” are this year’s recipient of the Eileen Cooke State and Local Madison Award, presented by the American Library Association to those who have championed, protected, and promoted  public access to government information and the public’s right to know.

This eighth annual Freedom of Information Day conference is sponsored by the First Amendment Center in cooperation with the American Library Association. Additionally, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the federal Freedom of Information Act, Sunshine Week, which begins March 12, is co-sponsoring the conference.