Amanda Jones is the 2023 Paul Howard Award for Courage Recipient
For Immediate Release
American Library Association
CHICAGO – The Paul Howard Award for Courage Jury is pleased to announce that Amanda Jones is the 2023 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Paul Howard Award for Courage. The biennial award, consisting of $1,000 and a gold-framed citation, honors individuals who have exhibited courage for the benefit of library programs or services in the face of adversity.
Libraries and library professionals have been under increasing attack by small but vocal groups seeking to challenge the inclusion of diverse materials and content within library collections and programming. These attacks have become more severe and caustic as library professionals, themselves, are being personally targeted and attacked. One librarian, however, is standing up and fighting back! That librarian is Amanda Jones, a middle school librarian in Livingston Parish, Louisiana and 2022-2023 President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians (LASL).
In July 2022, Jones attended a public meeting of the Livingston Parish Public Library Board of Control to stand in solidarity with her public library colleagues and speak out against book challenges. As a middle school librarian, Jones understood the importance of libraries providing diverse, age-appropriate collections reflecting the diversity of local communities, especially historically marginalized communities. In the days following her public address, Jones became the target of a vicious social media hate campaign, even receiving threats of physical violence. Instead of backing down, Jones gathered support and resources to mount a civil lawsuit against those targeting her.
Although the suit was dismissed in September 2022, Jones is not backing down. In March 2023, she filed an appeal and will continue fighting for herself and all those librarians who have been silenced due to bullying and threats. She is setting a precedent that hate speech has consequences and does not belong in civil discourse, and her resilience is giving strength and hope to thousands of library employees who might feel isolated and alone while confronting similar challenges. And her efforts and strength are being recognized widely; Jones was also awarded the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Intellectual Freedom Award in March 2023.
Paul Howard defined courage as "the quality of mind which enables one to face adversity, difficulty, or danger with resolution and fortitude . . . it is that characteristic which enables librarians to seek the achievement of goals in spite of all opposing forces." Jones rose to meet the challenges and threats of these opposing forces, while continuing to support and advocate for every person’s right to read freely.
Please join us in congratulating Amanda Jones as the 2023 recipient of the ALA Paul Howard Award for Courage. The award will be presented at the Awards Reception and Ceremony of the 2023 ALA Annual Conference.
Paul Howard Award Jury 2023 Members: Christopher Proctor (Chair), coordinator of access services and campus accreditation project manager, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, Indiana; Rebecca Clark, associate library director, School of Visual Arts, New York; Sara Dallas, director, Southern Adirondack Library System, Albany, New York; Scot Smith, librarian media specialist, Robertsville Middle School, Knoxville, Tennessee; and Liz Philippi, school program coordinator, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.