The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) announces that Jarrett Dapier is the recipient of the 2016 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award.
In March 2013, students took to the streets to protest the order issued by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) central office administrators to remove Marjane Satrapi's award-winning graphic novel Persepolis from CPS classrooms and libraries. The students’ protests inspired a public outcry by educators, librarians, and the public. Eventually the administrators withdrew their order and returned Persepolis to the city's high school classrooms and libraries, claiming a "miscommunication" about the status of the book. When the Freedom to Read Foundation, the National Coalition Against Censorship and the ACLU submitted Freedom of Information Act requests asking for the correspondence and other documents relevant to the decision to remove the book, their requests were met with claims that there were no documents to share.
Two years after the attempt to remove Persepolis from CPS classrooms, Jarrett Dapier, a library science graduate student at the University of Illinois, sought information from the school system via another Freedom of Information Act request in order to complete a thesis on censorship. Jarrett's request met with greater success, yielding email correspondence between CPS officials who were actively working to remove Persepolis after receiving a complaint from a school employee. The emails revealed that the "miscommunication" claim was false and that the directive to remove Persepolis was revised only after the resultant community outcry and a staff member citation of CPS' collection development policy, which prohibited a book's removal from school libraries without proper review.
Armed with new information regarding the incident, Jarrett informed the American Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship and the Chicago Reader newspaper. Jarrett's actions were key to exposing the improper actions of the school system, and the reporting based on his research brought national attention to continued attempts by schools to improperly remove books from classrooms and library shelves.
Jarrett Dapier is awarded the John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award for defending the principles of intellectual freedom by continuing to research this incident after it was no longer newsworthy and for exposing wrongdoing which could have resulted in a violation of the constitutional rights of the students in Chicago Public Schools.
The award will be presented at the IFRT Awards Reception & Member Social at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, FL on Saturday, June 25, 2016 at 7:00 PM in the Bayhill 17 Room at the Hyatt Regency Orlando.
The Intellectual Freedom Round Table is now accepting nominations for the 2017 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award.
The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) provides a forum for the discussion of activities, programs, and problems in intellectual freedom of libraries and librarians; serves as a channel of communications on intellectual freedom matters; promotes a greater opportunity for involvement among the members of the ALA in defense of intellectual freedom; promotes a greater feeling of responsibility in the implementation of ALA policies on intellectual freedom.