Nominations invited for annual Downs Intellectual Freedom Award

The iSchool at Illinois seeks nominations for the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award. The deadline for nominations is March 15, 2021.

Given annually, the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award acknowledges individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it impacts libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice or to hear or express ideas, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or a long-term interest in and dedication to the cause of intellectual freedom.

The Downs Award was established in 1969 by the iSchool's faculty to honor Dean Emeritus Robert B. Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on the occasion of his twenty-fifth anniversary as director of the School. The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) provides an honorarium to the Downs Intellectual Freedom Award recipient and co-hosts the reception held in honor of the recipient.

Previous winners have included the Education Justice Project (2019) for its defense of the First Amendment rights of incarcerated individuals; Iowa Library Association (2018) for taking a leadership role in several highly visible challenges to intellectual freedom; The Kansas City Public Library (2017) for its defense of library patrons' First Amendment rights; Wendy Campbell (2016) for her work in increasing cultural awareness in her community; and HP Kids Read (2015) for its work in support of freedom to read at the Highland Park (TX) High School.

The reception and award ceremony for the 2020 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award will take place in June 2021 at the American Library Association Annual Conference.

Letters of nomination and documentation about the nominee should be sent by March 15 to Associate Professor Terry Weech, chair of the Nominations Selection Committee, either by email at weech@illinois.edu with a copy to ischool-dean@illinois.edu, or in paper form to:

Terry Weech, Chair of the Downs I.F. Award Nominations Selection Committee 
School of Information Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
501 East Daniel Street
Champaign, IL 61820

Please email any questions to Associate Professor Terry Weech.

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