Immroth Memorial Award winner announced

Contact: Don Wood


ALA News Release

For Immediate Release

June 2001

Immroth Memorial Award winner announced

Linda Hughes, director, Wichita Falls (Texas) Public Library, has been named the winner of the John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award for Intellectual Freedom, presented by the American Library Association (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT).

The Immroth Award honors intellectual freedom fighters in and outside the library profession who have demonstrated remarkable personal courage in resisting censorship. The award consists of $500 cash and a citation.

Hughes was selected for her public stand in defense of the freedom to read and intellectual freedom after the Wichita Falls City Council approved a resolution in 1999, allowing petitioners to determine whether a book or publication belongs in the "children's areas" of Wichita Falls Public Library.

On September 26, 2000, a federal judge struck down Wichita Falls' library resolution, ruling that the petition-which allowed 300 library-card holders to petition the city to move controversial materials out of the municipal library's children's section-was unconstitutional.

The case stemmed from a two-year controversy over two award-winning children's picture books, "Heather Has Two Mommies," by Leslea Newman, and "Daddy's Roommate," by Michael Willhoite, that depict children being raised by lesbian and gay parents.

"As director of the Wichita Falls Public Library, and as a defendant in a case, Ms. Hughes set a standard of personal commitment, which serves as a model for other librarians," Award Committee Chair Pamela G. Bonnell said. "Even under personal attack, her advocacy and strong belief in the First Amendment did not waver."

"Even the judge [U. S. District Judge Jerry Buckmeyer] said in his decision that she is the 'real heroine of this unfortunate story of censorship and the unconstitutional interference with her ability to perform her duties,'" said Bonnell. "The Immroth Award Committee is extremely pleased to honor her notable contributions to the cause of intellectual freedom."

The award will be presented Saturday, June 16, 2 p.m., during the IFRT program in the Westin St. Francis Hotel, California West Room, at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.