For immediate release | May 13, 2024

ALA announces 2024 recipients of distinguished library Intellectual Freedom Awards


CHICAGO – The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) as the recipient of the 2024 Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award; Matthew Good as the recipient of the 2024 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award; and Hannah Natanson as the recipient of the 2024 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award.

The awards will be presented at the ALA Annual Conference in San Diego during the 2nd annual Rally for the Right to Read for conference attendees. The program begins at 8:00 p.m., and the evening will honor those who defend and advocate for the freedom to read. A pre-rally reception with a cash bar and light hors d’oeuvres will be held from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association is awarded the 2024 Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award by the IFRT Coalition Building Committee. The committee was impressed by the PSLA Intellectual Freedom Task Group’s (IFTG) multifaceted contribution to intellectual freedom and critical support of library staff facing intimidation and pressure related to anti-censorship efforts. "Without the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association’s Intellectual Freedom Task Group, I am not sure where I would be today," wrote one librarian. Among their many accomplishments in 2023, PSLA IFTG launched a new intellectual freedom website, as well as the IFTG rapid response team. They serve as a member of the steering committee for Pennsylvanians Welcoming and Inclusive Schools (PA-WInS) and collaborate with other organizations. Through coalition building and collaborative engagement, PSLA IFTG has provided outstanding professional support, advocacy, and education on issues pertaining to intellectual freedom.

The award is named after Gerald Hodges and consists of $1,000 and a citation. Hodges joined the ALA staff in 1989 as director of membership services and the Chapter Relations Office. At the time of his death in 2006, Hodges was the associate director of communications and marketing. Intellectual freedom and chapter relations were his passions.

Members of the Coalition Building Committee are chair Matthew Sylvain, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Leanne Cheek, Pioneer Library System; Cynthia Dudenhoffer, University of Missouri; and Cyndi Robinson, Illinois Library Association.

The 2024 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award, which honors notable contributions to intellectual freedom and demonstrations of personal courage in defense of freedom of expression, is awarded to Matthew Good, an instructional technology librarian from Pennsylvania. Faced with a difficult decision regarding the implementation of a policy that restricted access to books in the junior high library at the start of the 2022–23 school year, Good resigned his position to bring the issue to light. Good continues to speak out for intellectual freedom and access to books and school libraries.

The annual award consists of a citation and $500 and is named for John Phillip Immroth, a teacher, author, scholar, advocate, defender of First Amendment rights, and the founder and first chair of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table in 1973.

Members of the John Phillip Immroth Committee are chair Wanda Mae Huffaker, Salt Lake County Library; Michael Blackwell, St Mary’s County Library; Kristin Pekoll, Illinois Library Association; and Samuel Rumore, Birmingham Public Library.

Hannah Natanson, a reporter covering national K–12 education at The Washington Post, is the recipient of the 2024 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award for her series of articles “The School Book Wars,” published in 2023. The Oboler Award committee is honoring Natanson’s work for engaging readers, library workers, and the public, as well as bringing national attention to censorship challenges in schools. Her nuanced stories, the depth of research, and outstanding graphics contributed to the broad reach and appeal of the articles. Given the recent increase in organized challenges to materials, the reach of a piece such as Natanson’s plays an important role in humanizing library workers for the general public.

The Eli M. Oboler Award consists of $500 and a citation and is presented annually to a significant published work in the area of intellectual freedom, including matters of ethical, political, or social concerns related to intellectual freedom. The award is named for Eli M. Oboler, the extensively published Idaho State University librarian who championed intellectual freedom and demanded the dismantling of all barriers to freedom of expression.

Members of the Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award Committee are chair Steph Barnaby, Northeastern University Library; Marisa Eytalis, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District; Johannah Genett, Hennepin County Library; Leila Green Little, University of North Texas SLIA; Michael Kirby, Kingsborough Community College; and Mara Zonderman, Westhampton Free Library.

Join ALA IFRT and the library community in celebrating these defenders of intellectual freedom during the Rally for the Right to Read, 7:00 p.m., June 28, 2024. Get more information here.

About the Intellectual Freedom Round Table
The Intellectual Freedom Round Table provides a forum for the discussion of activities, programs, and problems in intellectual freedom of libraries and librarians; serves as a channel of communication on intellectual freedom matters; promotes a greater opportunity for involvement among the members of the ALA in defense of intellectual freedom; and promotes a greater feeling of responsibility in the implementation of ALA policies on intellectual freedom.

About the American Library Association 
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit 


Betsy Gomez

Staff Liaison

Intellectual Freedom Round Table