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Contact: Judith Krug
Director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom
For Immediate Release
May 7, 2004

Librarian, bookseller receive First Amendment Award


CHICAGO - Vermont librarian Trina Magi and bookseller Linda Ramsdell have been named winners of a 2004 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award for their leadership in the campaign to amend the USA PATRIOT Act.  Nominated by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom and the American Booksellers Association (ABA), Magi and Ramsdell will share a cash award of $5,000 and receive plaques honoring their efforts.

Magi, a former president of the Vermont Library Association, and Ramsdell, a bookseller in Hardwick (Vt.) and president of the New England Booksellers Association at the time, spearheaded the letter-writing drive by Vermont librarians and booksellers that persuaded Rep. Bernie Sanders to introduce the Freedom to Read Protection Act (HR 1157).    This proposed piece of legislation was the first introduced to limit the power of the PATRIOT Act and currently is co-sponsored by 144 members of the House, including 16 Republicans.  Since the bill's introduction, five others have been introduced into the House and Senate with bipartisan support:

"Magi and Ramsdell are not professional activists," said Judith Krug, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. "They both have demanding professional lives, but gave unstintingly of their time and energy to advance the fight to amend Section 215."

Magi works at the University of Vermont as an associate professor and is on the staff at the Bailey/Howe library in Burlington.   She was named one of Mother Jones magazine's "hellraisers" at the beginning of this year:

The Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards were established in 1979 by the Playboy Foundation to honor individuals who have made significant contributions in the vital effort to protect and enhance First Amendment rights for Americans.

Nominees have traditionally come from the areas of print and broadcast journalism, arts and entertainment, education, publishing, law and government, and winners are selected by a panel of distinguished judges. An annual ceremony is held to honor the winners and to present them with a cash award of $5000 and a commemorative plaque.

The ALA, ABA and PEN American Center also have launched the Campaign for Reader Privacy, an effort to obtain 1 million signatures from around the country seeking the revision of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.   This section amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to give the FBI vastly expanded authority to search business records, including the records of bookstores and libraries.

More than 300 anti-PATRIOT Act resolutions have been passed nationwide in states, counties, cities and small towns - including New York City, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Calistoga, Calif.   To support the Campaign for Reader Privacy, the public can go online at or visit their local library or bookseller.