For immediate release | March 21, 2023

Intellectual Freedom Round Table announces Emily J.M. Knox as the recipient of the 2023 Eli M. Oboler Award

CHICAGO - The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce Emily J.M. Knox, PhD, MSLIS as the recipient of the 2023 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award ⁠— which recognizes the best published work in the area of intellectual freedom ⁠— for her book "Foundations of Intellectual Freedom," published in 2022 by ALA Neal-Schuman.

Knox is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her book "Book Banning in 21st Century America" was published by Rowman and Littlefield and is the first monograph in the Beta Phi Mu Scholars Series. She is also the editor of "Trigger Warnings: History, Theory Context" (Rowman and Littlefield) and is co-editor of "Foundations of Information Ethics" (ALA Neal-Schuman). Her articles have been published in Library Quarterly, Library and Information Science Research, and the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy. Knox has served on the boards of the Association for Information Science and Technology, Freedom to Read Foundation, and the National Coalition Against Censorship. She received her doctoral degree from the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information. Her master’s degree in library and information science is from the iSchool at Illinois.

The Oboler Award selection committee selected "Foundations of Intellectual Freedom" because of its high literary quality, outstanding references and research, and the importance of its message during what could be described as a period of intellectual freedom crisis. The selection committee agreed that the content is relevant to library workers at libraries and institutions of every kind.

The Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award, which consists of a $500 award and a certificate, will be presented to Knox at the Intellectual Freedom Event at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

The award was named for Eli M. Oboler, the extensively published Idaho State University librarian known as a champion of intellectual freedom who demanded the dismantling of all barriers to freedom of expression. The award has been offered biennially since 1986. Members of the Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award Committee are: Chair Steph Barnaby, Northeastern University Library; Michael Blackwell, St Mary's County Library; Molly Dettmann, Norman North High School; Michael D. Kirby, Kingsborough Community College; and Mara Zonderman, Westhampton Free Library.


The Intellectual Freedom Round Table 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; and promotes a greater feeling of responsibility in the implementation of ALA policies on intellectual freedom.


The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit


Karen Gianni

Program Coordinator

Office of Intellectual Freedom