Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award

The Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award honors a literary work or series of works, in the area of intellectual freedom, including matters of ethical, political, or social concerns related to intellectual freedom. 

The Oboler Award, which consists of $500 and a certificate, is presented annually to a significant published work in the area of intellectual freedom. 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.” Works to be considered for the award may be single articles (including review pieces), a series of thematically connected articles, books, or manuals published on the local, state or national level in English or English translation. Books and articles are awarded in alternate years, with books considered for odd-year awards (2021, 2023, etc), and articles considered for even-year awards (2022, 2024, etc.).

The Oboler Award is administered by the Oboler Committee which recognizes the importance of published works in the area of intellectual freedom.

Past award recipients  


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  • It must be an article (including a review article), a series of thematically connected articles, a book, or a manual published on the local, state, or national level, in English or in English translation. It need not have appeared in the library press.

  • It must have as its central concern one or more issues, events, questions, or controversies in the area of intellectual freedom, including matters of ethical, political, or social concern related to intellectual freedom.

  • It must also be demonstrably relevant to the concerns and needs of members of the library community, including the worlds of publication (print and non-print) and communication.

  • It must meet high standards of literary quality, accuracy, and responsibility. While the primary focus of evaluation will be the work itself, the judges may find other considerations relevant. These may range from the use of particularly effective illustrations to recognition for the difficult nature of the background research or the subject itself, or for special courage or persistence displayed in writing and publishing the work.

  • The work must have been published within the two-year period ending the December prior to the ALA Annual Conference at which it is granted. For example, the 2022 award will be granted to an article or series of articles published in 2020 and 2021. Books published in 2021 and 2022 will be considered for the 2023 award. This award was given first at the 1986 Annual Conference in New York, for writing which appeared in print in the two years 1984 and 1985.



Submission deadline is February 1. Articles may be submitted digitally via the online form. Physical copies of books must be postmarked by February 1. Submissions may be sent at any time and will be considered during the appropriate award cycle.