ILA Intellectual Freedom Committee wins ProQuest/SIRS State and Regional Achievement Award

Contact: Nanette Perez

Program Officer, Office for Intellectual Freedom

(312) 280-4223

For Immediate Release,

March 18, 2008

ILA Intellectual Freedom Committee wins ProQuest/SIRS State and Regional Achievement Award

The Illinois Library Association's two-pronged approach to defending intellectual freedom-advocacy in the Illinois General Assembly and U.S. Congress and education within the library community and general public-has garnered its Intellectual Freedom Committee the ProQuest/SIRS State and Regional Achievement Award.

The ILA's effort was praised by the ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) ProQuest/SIRS Award Committee.

“Our award committee was extremely impressed with all of the wonderful work that your group has done to promote intellectual freedom issues in Illinois and to train frontline staff and give them the tools needed to deal with difficult intellectual freedom situations. We also were impressed with your system for providing that training, a model for training that could be replicated in other states,” stated Steve Norman, chair, IFRT ProQuest/SIRS Award Committee. “And we were especially impressed with all of the legislative successes that you've had on some very tough issues.”

Working in pairs, ILA Intellectual Freedom Committee members led training sessions at eight Illinois regional library systems. Committee members used
Defending Access with Confidence: A Practical Workshop on Intellectual Freedom by Catherine Lord, a step-by-step program that takes participants through the history of intellectual freedom in the U.S., the law, related policies and approaches to challenges against intellectual freedom in the context of libraries. The training directly reached staff members, directors and library board members, from public, school, academic and special libraries across the state.

ILA successfully mobilized its membership to influence the defeat of 16 separate legislative efforts to require filters on library computers. It also influenced the Illinois General Assembly to stall action on a bill that would have banned or severely limited access to social networking sites on library computers. In addition, ILA Executive Director Robert P. Doyle forged a partnership with MySpace that led to production of three NetSafe bookmarks on social networking, cyberbullying and safe blogging. One million were distributed free to Illinois libraries and Illinois elected officials, while thousands were distributed at the 2007 National Library Legislative Day to federal elected officials and staff and another 1 million bookmarks were given to each 2007 ALA Annual Conference attendee in Washington, D.C., for distribution at libraries nationwide.

The award will be presented at the Intellectual Freedom Round Table program/award ceremony at ALA's 2008 Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif. The program/ceremony will be at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 28.

Ten years ago, ILA won the same award for its successful and effective fight to defeat three Illinois legislative attempts to accord each county in the state the power to set obscenity standards, which had the potential to disrupt library services statewide.