2005 Paul Howard Award For Courage recipient named

Contact: Cheryl Malden

Program Officer


For Immediate Release

May 25, 2005

2005 Paul Howard Award For Courage recipient named

CHICAGO - Yongyi Song is the 2005 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Paul Howard Award for Courage. Song is the technical services and collection development librarian at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, California State University, Los Angeles.

Song's contribution to battling library censorship stems from his defiance over many years to the Chinese government's de facto ban on serious and thorough research into the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution (1966-76) is a historical tragedy often regarded as “China's Holocaust.” Song was imprisoned in China when he was 20 years old for organizing an underground reading group among his classmates opposing the Cultural Revolution.

Since the Chinese government prohibits Chinese scholars from studying this important area of Chinese history, there is no public access to materials that appeared during the Cultural Revolution. Valuable material is in the hands of private collectors and researchers but it cannot reach its full research potential because of the lack of a resource-sharing mechanism and government censorship.

In 1998 Song organized a group of Chinese-American librarians and faculty members in North America and established the editorial board of the
Chinese's Cultural Revolution CD-Rom Database, inaugurating a monumental compilation and archival project for Cultural Revolution—related historical materials. Song scoured Asian libraries all over the world in search of all relevant material. When Song traveled to China to work on this project, the Chinese state security officials detained him in Beijing on August 7, 1999. After a long period of detention, Song was arrested on December 24 on the charge of “purchase and illegal provision of intelligence to foreigners.” After the Chinese government received pressure from China study scholars across the world, international media, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, as well as the U.S. government and the American public, it dropped all criminal charges and released Song on January 28, 2000.

The editorial board completed their Cultural Revolution CD-Rom database in 2001. Song has published many bibliographies, source books, monographs and articles. His latest, which he co-authored with Jian Guo and Yuan Zhou “The Historical Dictionary of the Cultural Revolution in China,” which will be published in 2005.

Throughout his ordeal Song defended the principles of librarianship and the integrity of information professionals. “Yongyi Song was selected to receive the American Library Association's Paul Howard Award for Courage for 2005 because of his efforts to document and present the true history of China's Cultural Revolution in the face of tremendous opposition from Chinese authorities,” said Jury Chair Gale Burrow. “This opposition included periods of imprisonment for his pursuit of intellectual freedom. Song's persistence exemplifies the courage which Paul Howard defined as ‘the quality of mind which enables one to face adversity, difficulty, or danger with resolution and fortitude.'”

Members of the 2005 Paul Howard Award for Courage committee are: Chair Gale Burrow, Honnold/Mudd Library, Claremont, Calif.; Francis J. Buckley, interim director DC Public Library; Barbara W. Cole, Commonwealth Libraries, Harrisburg, Pa.; Donna O. Dziedzic, Naperville Public Library, Naperville, Ill.; Roberta A. Stevens, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

The Paul Howard Award for Courage will be presented Tuesday, June 28, during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.