Welcome to the Intellectual Freedom Round Table! IFRT is the grassroots home for intellectual freedom in the American Library Association. We believe that it is the role of every library worker to protect the intellectual freedom and pursuit of information for everyone who uses the library, no matter what form that pursuit takes. IFRT is a community of individuals devoted to this pursuit, and is full of conversation and debate about the best way to achieve these goals.
This year, my goals as chair have three main prongs. First, I am convening the round table's first strategic planning group in recent history to develop a plan for development for 2019-2022 so that we are better set up to confront emerging intellectual freedom issues as IFRT, our members, and ALA continue to evolve. Second, we are delving into what intellectual freedom specific education opportunities our members are interested in. As you may or may not know, every IFRT member has free access to all of the educational offerings of the Office of Intellectual Freedom. We are in conversation with them to make these offerings even more responsive to the membership so that every person's needs are being met in these continuously shifting and growing areas of concern. Third, we are continuing the efforts of past-chair Charles Kratz in fundraising for the IFRT awards. The awards honor some of the best and brightest in the realm of intellectual freedom, but several of them are in poor financial health. We are exploring efforts to endow the awards so that our fundraising efforts aren't band-aids but instead provide a long-term solution for financial health.
In addition to these main focuses, our members will give out awards, create publications, develop conference programs, and maintain the structure and integrity of this group. 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 library 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, John Mack Freeman
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.