John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award

Award Recipients

2013: 

Amnesty International USA

Rather than focusing on book censorship, per se, Amnesty International’s approach focused on the logical consequences that would follow when governments are allowed to censor. Beyond the removal or burning of books comes the removal and physical harm to authors, journalists and others. 

2012:

Not given.

2011:

Mike Blasenstein and Mike Iacovone

The Immroth Award Committee recognizes the two for providing access to the banned video, David Wojnarowicz’s “Fire in My Belly,” in a high profile incident of censorship at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. After the Smithsonian Institution bowed to pressure to remove the artwork from the Hide/Seek exhibit, Blasenstein and Iacovone undertook their first act to preserve intellectual freedom by reintroducing the censored art into the gallery from which it was removed.

2010:

Dr. Ron Critchfield

Critchfield took a stand against the censorship of the graphic novel, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, by Alan Moore, at the Jessamine County Public Library where he is director.

2009:

Alanna Natanson and Kam MacPherson

The Immroth Award Committee recognizes the two for organizing the Takoma Park Library’s Banned Books Club, a youth group of middle-school students who gather to read frequently challenged or banned books, like Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  Natanson started the club because, she said, “there are a lot of people in [her] grade that are very mature for their age.”  The club gives them a chance to read books with more mature themes than what they read in their classes.  MacPherson, the librarian who leads the discussion, said that the list of books were all “books that kids would want to read.”

2008:

Jane Smith and Lisa Scherff

Scherff and Smith led an effort that prevented the Tuscaloosa County Board from removing the book Sandpiper from Brookwood High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  The challenge originated not from a parent or religious group, but from a student who checked out and then refused to return the book to the library due to "its graphic description of oral sex."  

2007:

Not given

2006:

Lucy Collins Nazro and Kathryn Runnels
By refusing to allow Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain to be removed from the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School (Austin, TX) curriculum in exchange for a $3,000,000 donation, Lucy Collins Nazro and Kathryn Runnells showed remarkable courage in defending the principle of intellectual freedom. In sacrificing this donation they upheld the principles of both their professions and their institution. They also exemplify the courage it takes every day to remain vigilant against those who would oppose the building of inclusive collections. St. Andrew's Episcopal School can be proud of the example set by the recipients for their students, staff, faculty, and parents.

2005:

Hays (Kans.) Public Library Board of Trustees
For its spirited defense of the freedom to read and its courage under pressure in the service of all Kansas Citizens.

2004:

Nolan T. Yelich
For his courageous and victorious stand in defense of freedom of information in Virginia. For several months he vigorously and publicly pursued the complete records of former Virginia Governor James Gilmore’s administration for the state archives of Virginia.

2003:

Gloria Pipkin and ReLeah Lent
For their ongoing public stand in defense of the freedom to read and intellectual freedom over two decades. These former English teachers for the Bay County, Fla., schools, were plaintiffs in two separate First Amendment suits against their school board, superintendent, and principal, in cases defending the right to read and the student press. Their stories are the subject of their book At the Schoolhouse Gate: Lessons in Intellectual Freedom (Heinemann, 2002).

2002:

Joyce Meskis
For her long-standing dedication and contributions to the defense of the freedom to read and intellectual freedom, most recently demonstrated by her stand in Tattered Cover V. City of Thornton, which determined that bookstore customers have a right to receive information anonymously, without government interference.

2001:

Linda Hughes
For her commitment and contribution to the defense of the freedom to read and intellectual freedom and her unwavering advocacy and strong belief in the First Amendment.

2000:

Gordon Conable
For his long-standing dedication and contributions to the defense of the freedom to read and intellectual freedom.

1999:

Mainstream Loudoun
Mainstream Loudoun received this award for its role in Mainstream Loudoun v. Board of Trustees of Loudoun County Library, in which Judge Leonie M. Brinkema ruled that the highly restrictive Internet policy imposed on Loudoun County libraries was invalid under the free speech provisions of the First Amendment.

1998:

Paula Baker, Marjorie Meany, Elizabeth Gibson, William Meub, Barry Ferraro, and Paul Bortz of the Rutland (VT) Free Library
For their successful defense of Daddy’s Roommate in their library’s collection and their successful mobilization of the community in support of the library’s intellectual freedom policies.

1997:

Dr. Ronald F. Sigler
For his long and distinguished career supporting the cause of intellectual freedom in libraries and, in particular, the promulgation and promotion of his seminal work, “The Freedom to View Statement.”

1996:

Plaintiffs in Case v. Unified School District ( Annie On My Mind case)
For initiating and pursuing a victorious legal battle to defend the constitutional rights of the students, parents and teachers of Olathe, Kansas, when the book Annie on My Mind was removed from the school district libraries based solely on the personal disapproval of the superintendent and the school board.

1995:

Fort Vancouver Regional Library Board of Trustees
For defending fundamental principles of intellectual freedom, persuasively presenting that defense to a wide community, and educating their regional service area and beyond about First Amendment rights.

1994:

John Swan
For his courage, perseverance, and dedication to the highest principles of intellectual freedom.

1993:

William A. Moffett
For succeeding in opening unrestricted access to archival photographs of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

1992:

Dorothea A. Hunter
For successfully reinstating several titles that had been removed from media centers in the Detroit public schools.

1991:

Christopher Merrett
For courageous advocacy of the freedom of expression for all people and equality of library service in South Africa.

1990:

Pamela G. Bonnell
For consistent defense of freedom to read by actively taking a stand against censorship whenever a threat appears.

1989:

Cooperative Children’s Book Center
For providing confidence, information, and support to librarians experiencing challenges to resources and for guiding librarians through book challenges in an organized and positive manner, making it possible for them to stand firm for intellectual freedom.

1988:

Eleanor and Elliot Goldstein
For their dedication to intellectual freedom and for their strong support of awards and projects promoting its principles, through which they have made this cause a priority in librarianship across the country.

1987:

Charles Levendosky
For exemplary contributions as an editorialist, speaker, and intellectual freedom activist in the State of Wyoming.

1986:

Thomas J. Mills
For steadfast support of challenged textbooks, of the textbook review process, and of academic freedom principles in the Palm Beach County (Florida) school system.

1985:

William D. North
For outstanding service to the Freedom to Read Foundation in his roles as Counsel, Trustee and President.

1984:

Gene D. Lanier
For extraordinary courage and leadership as a library educator in defense of the First Amendment throughout North Carolina.

1983:

Nat Hentoff
For courageous and articulate advocacy of the First Amendment as an author, speaker, and activist for human rights.  NOTE: In his January 29, 2004, column ( http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0405/hentoff.php), Hentoff renounced the award: "I now publicly renounce the Immroth Award and demand that the American Library Association remove me from the list of recipients of that honor. To me, it is no longer an honor."

1982:

Steven Pico
For strong commitment and defense of the principles of intellectual freedom and the freedom to read.

1981:

Not awarded

1980:

Elizabeth A. Phillips
For challenging censorship of the Vergennes (Vt.) Union High School Library.

1979:

Alex P. Allain
For lifelong support of intellectual freedom in libraries.

1978:

Sonja Coleman
For vigorous defense of students’ right to read.

1977:

Irene Turin
For professional adherence to intellectual freedom in the face of censorship by the school board.

1976:

I. F. Stone
For lifelong devotion to intellectual freedom.