LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund

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Donate | Assistance | Trustees | Dr. LeRoy C. Merritt | Articles | Videos | Brochure

The LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund was established in 1970 as a special trust in memory of Dr. LeRoy C. Merritt. It is devoted to the support, maintenance, medical care, and welfare of librarians who, in the Trustees’ opinion, are:

  • Denied employment rights or discriminated against on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, religion, age, disability, or place of national origin; or
  • Denied employment rights because of defense of intellectual freedom; that is, threatened with loss of employment or discharged because of their stand for the cause of intellectual freedom, including promotion of freedom of the press, freedom of speech, the freedom of librarians to select items for their collections from all the world’s written and recorded information, and defense of privacy rights.

Questions? merrittfund@ala.org


Donate to the Merritt Fund


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Donate by mail 

Send checks, payable to The Merritt Fund
Mailing Address:
LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund
225 Michigan Ave, Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60601

Note: The Merritt Fund is supported solely by donations and contributions from concerned groups and individuals. Contributions to the Merritt Fund are not tax-exempt, because they are used to give direct aid to individuals without reference to Internal Revenue Service requirements regarding tax-exempt organizations. Hence, contributions do not qualify as personal tax deductions for donors.


Apply for Assistance

Online Application | PDF Application

Applications for assistance are strictly confidential, as are the identities of grant recipients.

The Merritt Fund trustees ask that recipients "pay it forward" when they are able.  Become a resource for other librarians facing challenges, attend board and city council meeting and at such point that their financial situation allows them to do so, make a donation to the Fund.  This way, the Merritt Fund is able to continue to help librarians in need despite limited resources.

Applications for assistance can be sent to:

LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund
225 Michigan Ave, Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60601

Or emailed to merrittfund@ala.org


2023-2024 Trustees

Steve Norman, Director of Belfast Free Library, Belfast, ME. 

Emily Knox, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, IL

Erin Berman, Division Director, Learning Group, Alameda County Library, CA

Robert P. Holley, Professor Emeritus, Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science, Detroit, MI.


OIF Staff Liaisons

Deborah Caldwell-Stone
Merritt Fund Secretary
Telephone: 312-280-4222



Who Was LeRoy C. Merritt?

Dr. LeRoy C. MerrittDr. Merritt, who died in 1970, was one of the library profession’s staunchest opponents of censorship and one of its most vigorous defenders of intellectual freedom. Graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1935 with a B.A. and a certificate in librarianship, Dr. Merritt received a Ph.D. in librarianship from the University of Chicago in 1942. His diversified career included working at the Milwaukee Public Library, serving as a librarian at Longwood College, and participating in a Special Services project for the Armed Forces during the Second World War, From 1946 until 1966, Dr. Merritt served on the staff of the University of California School of Librarianship at Berkeley. He was appointed Dean of the School of Librarianship of the University of Oregon in Eugene in 1966.

Dr. Merritt published many articles on intellectual freedom and was perhaps best known to fellow-censorship foes for his editorship of the American Library Association’s Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, which post he held from 1962 until 1970. In 1970 H.W. Wilson published his book, Book Selection and Intellectual Freedom.

For his outstanding accomplishments in the field, Dr. Merritt was selected in 1969 as the first recipient of the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award. True to his principles, he immediately forwarded the entire cash award of $500.00 to the Freedom to Read Foundation, becoming the Foundation’s first benefactor.

Dr. Merritt also served as chair of the California Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee and as a member of the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee (1959–65).



"Merritt Fund Aids a Colleague in DistressAmerican Libraries. 2012. 

"Carol Brey-Casiano Tells a Patriot Act Story" American Libraries. 2010.

"Merritt to the Rescue" Interview with Mimi Davis by Melora Ranney.



The LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund supports librarians who are facing financial difficulty due to discrimination or because they have taken a stand in support of intellectual freedom. In this video, trustees describe the fund, and why it's needed. (2008)


Former ALA President Carol Brey-Casiano discusses how the Merritt Humanitarian Fund helped her fight unjust accusations in the wake of the September 11 attacks, as well as the Merritt Fund's upcoming 40th anniversary celebration, to be held June 28 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. (2010)




Printable PDF of the Merritt Fund Brochure 
OIF is happy to ship brochures to you for events or conferences. Email oif@ala.org with your request. 


Questions? merrittfund@ala.org
Information: www.merrittfund.org

Updated: May 2021