“Celebrate the Freedom to Read” Oregon wins the SIRS/ProQuest State and Regional Achievement Award

Contact: Jen Hammond
OIF Program Coordinator
312-280-4223
jhammond@ala.org

NEWS
For Immediate Release,
May 12, 2009

CHICAGO — “Celebrate the Freedom to Read” Oregon, a coalition made up of the ACLU of Oregon, the Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) of the Oregon Library Association (OLA) and the IFC of the Oregon Association of School Libraries (OASL), is the recipient of the SIRS-ProQuest State and Regional Achievement Award.  Given by the Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT), a grass-roots coalition of ALA members concerned with intellectual freedom in libraries nationwide, the award will be presented on July 10 at the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference in Chicago.

The award, funded by ProQuest, consists of a citation and $1,000 and recognizes successful and effective intellectual freedom committees or coalitions that have made a contribution to the freedom to read in libraries or to the intellectual freedom environment in which libraries function.

The Oregon coalition is being honored for its campaign, which increased state-wide participation in Banned Books Week by 22 percent over two years.  In 2008, 31 of the 36 counties of Oregon participated in Banned Books Week activities, which were hosted by academic, public and school libraries, the Oregon State Library and 10 bookstores.  Banned Books Week, an annual event designed to raise awareness about the dangers of censorships in libraries and schools, has been the linchpin in these three groups’ effort to bring intellectual freedom into all state libraries.  The campaign started when an ACLU board member donated 3,000 buttons, emblazoned with “I Read Banned Books,” to be distributed to all participating libraries.  As awareness grew, libraries saw an increased demand for local information regarding challenges to library materials.  Staff and volunteers from the ACLU of Oregon and the Oregon Library Association’s IFC sifted through newspapers and publications to create a master list of all materials challenged or banned in Oregon since 1979.  The list is available here: http://www.aclu-or.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Get_events_bannedbook.

For more information on the award, see http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/rts/ifrt/awardsfinal/SIRS_ProQuest_Award/sirs.cfm

IFRT provides a forum for the discussion of activities, programs and problems in intellectual freedom. The committee serves as a channel of communications on intellectual freedom matters, and also promotes a greater opportunity for involvement among the members of the ALA in defense of intellectual freedom.