CHICAGO – Amy Bradley, school librarian at Risley Middle School in Brunswick, Ga., is the 2017 recipient of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Intellectual Freedom Award. Established in 1982 and sponsored by ProQuest, the award is given for upholding the principles of intellectual freedom as set forth by AASL and ALA. The recipient is awarded $2,000, and $1,000 is awarded to the school library program of the recipient's choice.
“Amy and her secretary removed every single book from the shelves of the middle school’s library prior to the start of Banned Books Week,” said Rebecca Hunt, award committee chair. “She wanted to show students what the library would look like if intellectual freedom did not exist. Students questioned the empty shelves and were given activities that explained Banned Books Week and the right to read. Of course, the books were returned to the shelves, but not without educating the staff and students on the importance of having the right to choose their reading materials.”
“Mrs. Bradley consistently challenges our students to think beyond the doors of Risley,” wrote Principal Lori Joiner in her letter of support. “Her empty shelves strategy tested the students to think of the struggles of others. Amy’s real-world applications had an impact on the school community. The children asked repeatedly ‘Where are the books – really?’ with real concern. They thought they were truly gone. All we would say is that they were banned.”
“Some of the students actually got upset,” said Bradley during an interview with the Brunswick News. “Two had tears in their eyes. We have to make the books available so the children have the information they need. To me, a child who reads becomes an adult who thinks, and if we take away their resources, they can’t think.”
The AASL award winners will be honored at the AASL Awards Ceremony & President’s Program during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. The ceremony will be held from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Saturday, June 24. All are welcome to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers during this recognition event.
The American Association of School Librarians www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.