Terri Lesley Receives IFRT Immroth Memorial Award

For Immediate Release
Wed, 03/30/2022


Kristin Pekoll


Intellectual Freedom Round Table

American Library Association



The American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) Immroth Award Committee is pleased to announce Terri Lesley as the recipient of the 2022 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award, which honors notable contributions to intellectual freedom and demonstrations of personal courage in defense of freedom of expression.

Terri Lesley has led the staff and library board of Campbell County Public Library in Gillette, Wyoming through an onslaught of challenged materials and protests. Beginning in the summer of 2021, the number of challenges to unique titles rose from 3 in August to nearly 30 by the end of the year. Library board meetings have been very contentious and there have been repeated protests outside the library. In October 2021, two of the patrons who led the challenges went to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office to attempt to prosecute CCPL librarians, including Ms. Lesley, of violating child sex laws based on five books they described as “hard-core pornography to children.”

Throughout this period, Ms. Lesley has not only stood up for intellectual freedom for her patrons, she has also continued to build community support for her library through her interactions with the public. She has also strived to support her staff and maintain a strong working relationship with her board. Ms. Lesley has shared what she’s learned with other library directors in Wyoming

“Ms. Lesley’s commitment to intellectual freedom, her community, and her staff is second to none,” said Conrrado Saldivar, President of the Wyoming Library Association. “Her resolve and defense of library materials has been an inspiration to all library staff in Wyoming and ensures that her community can continue having a robust exchange of ideas and opinions.”

The award will be presented on Friday, June 24th at 7pm ET at ALA's Annual Conference in Washington D.C.

Along with Ms. Lesley, there were several other inspirational nominees, who include Amanda Cawthon, head of youth services at Pflugerville Public Library in Texas, who was nominated for her social media work advocating for intellectual freedom; Aaryan Rawal, a high school senior at Westfield High School in Fairfax County, who was nominated for his work with the student-led group Pride Liberation Project which fought the removal of two books from the Fairfax County Public School libraries; and The FReadom Fighters – Becky Calzada, Carolyn Foote, NancyJo Lambert and one anonymous member – who were nominated for their social media work and letter writing campaigns to combat book banning in schools and libraries.

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 Johannah Genett, Hennepin County Library; Kristin Joy Anderson, Lewis University; Sarah Beverly Burchart, Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research; Kristin E. C. Green, Penn State University Libraries, Scranton Campus; Lynda Salem Poling, Long Beach Public Library; and Dr. Jennifer E. Steele, University of Southern Mississippi.

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.