Welcome to the Intellectual Freedom Round Table! IFRT is the grassroots home for intellectual freedom in the American Library Association. We believe that every library worker can protect the freedom of all people in our communities to read, learn, create, and share ideas. If you’re passionate about protecting patrons’ privacy, access, and right to information, then IFRT is the place for you.
As chair, my primary focus this year is beginning implementation of the newly-released IFRT 2019-2022 strategic plan. By tackling the issues our members told us were most important, these changes should make the organization more responsive and useful for you. We will be working to raise our collective voice more audibly, so keep an eye out for new partnerships, more collaborations, and more communication and education opportunities. Our conference programming will focus on one of the most pressing issues in our profession: the intersection of two of our core values, intellectual freedom and equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice (EDISJ). Another primary focus will be advocating for intellectual freedom issues and communities within any potential restructuring of ALA.
In addition to these main focuses, our members continue to contribute to the ongoing vibrancy of the Round Table by giving out awards, creating publications, developing online and conference continuing education, and advocating for IF around the country. Our members and committee volunteers are the lifeblood of this round table, and we simply would not exist without all of their hard work.
Additionally, this will be a year where we continue to foster discussion of intellectual freedom issues. Fake news, the right to be forgotten, censorship, propaganda, hate speech, privacy, and so much more continue to be hot button issues, and IFRT will continue to advocate for the rights of all library users and workers to access information freely and accurately. If you have an idea for IFRT, please don't hesitate to reach out to me or anyone else on the IFRT Board.
Sincerely, Audrey Barbakoff
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.
- Provides broad opportunities for ALA members to become involved in the support of freedom of access and freedom of expression in libraries
- Supports librarians involved in censorship controversies
- Monitors intellectual freedom developments affecting library and information services
- Provides a forum where ALA members involved in intellectual freedom activities on the state and local level can discuss programs, activities, and problems
- Organizes conference programs on topics related to intellectual freedom
The American Library Association (ALA) Council established the Intellectual Freedom Round Table in June 1973. At the 1973 Annual Conference in Las Vegas, IFRT was organized as the associations's membership-activity program for intellectual freedom. The activities of the round table supplement the OIF's educational program and offer opportunities for ALA members to become active in the association's intellectual freedom efforts.
The IFRT sponsors three intellectual freedom awards. The annual State and Regional Achievement Award, given by the IFRT since 1984, was revised in 1991 and replaced by the Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award in 2009. Formerly presented to a state intellectual freedom committee. the award has been expanded to include "state educational media association intellectual freedom committees, state intellectual freedom coalitions, legal defense funds, or other such groups that have implemented the most successful and creative state intellectual freedom project during the calendar year. The IFRT established the John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award for intellectual freedom, given annually in memory of the cofounder and first chairperson of the Round Table, "to honor notable contributions to intellectual freedom and demonstrations of personal courage in defense of freedom of expression." Biennially, the IFRT sponsors the Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award, presented for the best published work in the area of intellectual freedom.