For immediate release | March 7, 2018

Lindsey Whittington Receives Immroth Award

The ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) Immroth Awards Committee is pleased to announce Lindsey Whittington as ALA’s recipient for this year’s John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award, which honors significant contributions defending intellectual freedom.

Whittington, a media specialist in Dixie County, Florida, publicly defended the First Amendment rights of her students. Mike Thomas, the superintendent of Dixie County issued a directive that forbids the purchase of printed materials containing profanity or inappropriate subject matter.

This directive came after one parent complained about students being required to read “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines, which contains sexual references. The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) included “A Lesson Before Dying” on its list of the Top Ten Banned Books that Changed the Face of Black History. Instead of following the existing policy on challenges, Thomas simply attempted to ban all books with questionable subject matter.

While defending the rights of her students, Whittington was eloquent in stating, “I am very proud of the books that are currently in the library and in the curriculum for the high school. I stand behind the reading and the English teachers and their rationale for teaching texts of their choosing in order to impart to students the valuable lessons that can be learned from these esteemed novels. Isn’t the point of education to teach students how to think, not what to think?”

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table applauds Whittington for resolutely defending the standards of intellectual freedom in her community for her students.

The award will be presented at ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA at the IFRT Awards Recognition & Fundraising Breakfast on Saturday, June 23, 7:30 - 9 a.m.

Established in 1979, upon the death of John Phillip Immroth, the Immroth Memorial Award honors the courage, dedication, and contribution of a living individual, group, or organization who has set the finest kind of example for the defense and furtherance of the principles of intellectual freedom. The award consists of a citation and $500. John Phillip Immroth was a teacher, author, scholar, advocate, and defender of First Amendment rights. He was the founder and first chair of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table in 1973.

Members of the John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award Committee are: Chair Michael Furlong, University of Central Florida; Tyrone Cannon, University of San Francisco; Nan Hilyard; Candace Morgan; Shane Roopnarine, UCF Rosen College; and Kelley Rowan, Florida International University;

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.


Kristin Pekoll

Staff Liaison

American Library Association

Intellectual Freedom Round Table