CHICAGO – Mike Blasenstein and Mike Iacovone have been named recipients of the John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award, presented by the American Library Association (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT).
The Immroth Award honors intellectual freedom fighters in and outside the library profession who have demonstrated remarkable personal courage in resisting censorship. The award consists of $500 and a citation.
The Immroth Award Committee recognized the two for providing access to a 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. David Hurley, chair of the Immroth Committee, explained why Blasenstein and Iacovone were chosen: “What really impressed the committee about their actions was that it both restored access to the work that had been removed, for the duration of the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit, while also drawing attention to the larger problem of the way in which it was removed.”
The award will be presented at a special reception on June 25, 2011, during the ALA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans. For more information on the award, visit www.ala.org/ifrt.