Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award Recipients

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


2022: Jamie M. Gregory
Intellectual Freedom Blog (ALA Press Release)
Attacks on reading at, and sometimes by, school boards, local and state legislatures, and even by federal legislators, especially on works for by and about People of Color and LGBTQ+ individuals, often with disinformation and outright hate, foreshadow a new era of repression that must be fought if we are to provide safe and culturally responsive spaces. Gregory's writing takes us to the frontline of these challenges, pointing out the specific threats, interviewing leaders and especially young people being threatened by efforts to suppress their rights, revealing the injustice. She offers inspiring thoughts on why we must resist and practical advice on how we may yet prevail. Hers is an important chronicle of our time.

2020: Henry Reichman
The Future of Academic Freedom (ALA Press Release)
Over the course of ten audacious essays, Reichman explores the theory, history, and contemporary practice of academic freedom. He pays attention to such varied concerns as the meddling of politicians and corporate trustees in curriculum and university governance, the role of online education, the impact of social media, the rights of student protesters and outside speakers, the relationship between collective bargaining and academic freedom, and the influence on research and teaching of ideologically motivated donors.

2018: Robert P. Doyle
Banned Books: Defending our Freedom to Read (ALA press release)
Provides a framework for understanding censorship and the protections guaranteed to us through the first amendment. Interpretations of the uniquely American notion of freedom of expression -- and our freedom to read what we choose -- are supplemented by straightforward, easily accessible information that will inspire further exploration.

2016: Mark Alfino and Laura Koltutsky
The Library Juice Press Handbook of Intellectual Freedom (ALA press release)
The book looks at intellectual freedom from a wider range of theoretical perspectives and in connection with a wider range of cultural topics, under the premise that "thought and action about intellectual freedom needs to be informed by a broader and more complex range of topics and theoretical reflection than it typically has been." The 21 articles focus on topics including threats to intellectual freedom, academic freedom, the arts, the internet, censorship along with connections to contemporary social issues and institutions, and historical and cultural theories.

2014: June Pinnell-Stephens
Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your Public Library: Scenarios from the Front Lines (ALA press release)
The book not only details step by step how to combat the censors, but also outlines in clear language how and why intellectual freedom is a singularly important matter facing all 21st century libraries. Citing U.S. court cases for protection of intellectual freedom rights in libraries, Pinnell-Stephens clearly defines and answers questions critically important to librarians, as well as providing sample forms and policy documents that can be utilized.

2012: Evgeny Morozov
The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (ALA press release)
In this book, blogger and social commentator Evgeny Morozov tackles issues of power, access and control with relentless energy and analytical savvy. Marshalling a compelling set of case studies, he shows why we must stop thinking of the internet and social media as instant cures for repression, and how, in some cases, they can even threaten democracy.

2010: Ernest Freeberg
Democracy's Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent (ALA press release)
Ernest Freeberg’s biographical study is a masterful account of the life of Eugene V. Debs that highlights the legal, political and social contexts of Debs’ influential career as labor union leader and political activist and the less well-known story of the impact of his case in extending the First Amendment’s support of the right to dissent.

2008: Christopher M. Finan
From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America (ALA press release)
Ernest Freeberg’s biographical study is a masterful account of the life of Eugene V. Debs that highlights the legal, political and social contexts of Debs’ influential career as labor union leader and political activist and the less well-known story of the impact of his case in extending the First Amendment’s support of the right to dissent.

2006: Kembrew McLeod
Freedom of Expression: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity
In 1998 university professor and professional art prankster Kembrew McLeod trademarked the phrase "freedom of expression" as a joke, an amusing if dark way to comment on how intellectual property law is increasingly being used to fence off the culture and restrict the way we're allowed to express ideas.

2004: Wendell Berry and David James Duncan
Citizens Dissent: Security, Morality and Leadership in an Age of Terror
Wendell Berry and David James Duncan assess the moral, economic, ecological, and democratic ramifications of the first new national security strategy in fifty years. By turns informative, honest, and emotionally crushing, they speak to the collective conscience of our nation: " What does real security require of us? What does true patriotism require of us? What does freedom require of us?"

2002: Marjorie Heins
Not in Front of the Children: Indecency, Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth
Explores the history of "indecency" laws and other restrictions aimed at protecting youth. From Plato's argument for rigid censorship to contemporary battles over sex education in public schools and violence in the media, the author guides us through what became, and remains, an ideological minefield.

2000: David Brin
The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?
A respected futurist advances an argument sure to cause debate--in a wired world, the best way to preserve our freedom will be to give up our privacy.

1998: David M. Rabbin
Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years
Controversies and litigation about free speech, often involving sex reformers and labor unions, preceded the Espionage Act of 1917.

1996: Edward Cleary
Beyond the Burning Cross: the First Amendment and the Landmark R.A.V. Case
Two teenagers in St. Paul, Minnesota, were charged with placing a burning cross on the yard of new black neighbors. Although Attorney Cleary detested the crime, he believed that the law under which two teenagers were charged was overly broad and was a threat to the First Amendment by mandating political correctness.

1994: Joan DelFattore
What Johnny Shouldn't Read: Textbook Censorship in America
Offers a behind-the-scenes view of the ways in which special-interest groups influence the content of textbooks used in public and private schools throughout America. This book describes six cases resulting from attempts to suppress information on evolution, gun control and pacifism.

1992: Martha Cornog
Libraries, Erotica, and Pornography
Features 17 essays that share the experiences and insights of working librarians, researchers in human sexuality, a public library administrator, library educators, a specialist on erotic literature and a popular novelist.

1990: Aileen Helmick and Floyd Pentlin
Media horizons: Journal of the Missouri Association of School Librarians Spring, 1988 Edition

1988: Ann Bastian
Choosing Equality: The Case for Democratic Schooling
Presents a comprehensive critique of education and the reforms covering instruction and the institution.

1986: Leonard W. Levy
Emergence of a Free Press
This Pulitzer Prize-winning constitutional historian argues that the First Amendment was not designed to be the bulwark of a free press. Mr. Levy's brilliant account offers a new generation of readers a penetrating look into the origins of one of America's most cherished freedoms.