CHICAGO – Rosalind Dennis, director of educational media and instructional materials for the DeKalb County (Ga.) School District, is the 2013 recipient of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Intellectual Freedom Award. Established in 1982 and sponsored by ProQuest, the AASLIntellectual Freedom 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.
“The committee recognized Rosalind Dennis as an intellectual freedom defender and advocate in two ways,” said Helen Adams, award committee chair. “First, she managed a contentious challenge to its successful conclusion with the book being retained in the library collection. Second, as president of the Georgia Library Media Association, Rosalind demonstrated her concern for intellectual freedom in school libraries by strengthening the association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and the position of the chair.”
Dennis creates, develops and implements policy and procedures for challenged materials throughout the district. She convenes a district-wide committee that meets at least biannually to discuss challenged materials and other censorship issues. The district-wide committee is a representation of district office administrators, principals, teachers, librarians, parents and students. In the face of a challenge, Dennis uses her role as convener to ensure the committee reviews and understands the school district's selection policy.
The committee recently heard a challenge of a book on the system-wide kindergarten reading list that parents in the county found to be controversial. The parents recommended the school “cut out the offensive pages with scissors” before allowing the children to use the text in class. Under Dennis’ leadership, the committee resolved that selecting an alternative text would be acceptable; however, cutting pages from the “controversial” book would wade into serious censorship issues.
Dennis and other AASL award recipients will be honored at AASL's Awards Luncheon during the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. The luncheon will be held Monday, July 1. Ticket information can be found on the AASL website at www.ala.org/aasl/annual.
The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.