Missouri Library Association receives the 2021 Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award

For Immediate Release
Fri, 04/23/2021


Kristin Pekoll

Staff Liaison

Intellectual Freedom Round Table

American Library Association



The Intellectual Freedom Round Table of the American Library Association is pleased to announce that the Missouri Library Association (MLA) is the 2021 recipient of the Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award.

Proposed Missouri House Bill No. 2044, known as the "Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act," sought to create "parental review boards" with the authority to remove items that it deemed to be "age-inappropriate sexual materials." This bill, if passed, would have withheld state aid from libraries failing to restrict access to materials and imposed criminal penalties on library personnel if they refused to comply with its provisions.

This legislation drew national attention, and the MLA quickly responded by briefing its membership, drafting talking points, and contacting their state legislators. In their dialogue with public officials, they were effective in highlighting the role of library professionals in selecting materials. Support for the bill declined after state and national advocacy and it ultimately failed to pass. When a similar bill was introduced in Tennessee, the MLA was able to support their colleagues by sharing strategies and advice. Their work on this issue demonstrates the significant effort that is required to defend intellectual freedom and to keep our communities informed about how library materials are selected.

The Hodges Award recognizes an organization that has developed a strong multi-year, ongoing program or a single, one year project that exemplifies support for intellectual freedom, patron confidentiality, and anti-censorship efforts. The award is named after Gerald Hodges, an ALA staff member from 1989 to 2006. Chapter relations and intellectual freedom were his passions and he willed a portion of his estate to support those efforts. The award consists of $1,000 and a citation and has been given since 2013.

Members of the Coalition Building Committee are: Chair Shane Roopnarine, University of Central Florida Libraries; Jeremy Brett, Texas A & M University Cushing Memorial Library; Ray James; Isabel Klein, Cuyahoga County Public Library; Amanda Vazquez, Dubuque County Library District.

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. @IFRT_ALA