Nominations invited for annual Downs Intellectual Freedom Award

The School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign seeks nominations for the 2021 Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award. The deadline for nominations is March 15, 2022. The award is cosponsored by SAGE Publishing.

Given annually, the 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.

Previous winners have included Amy Dodson, former director of the Douglas County Public Library, Nevada, for supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion as part of the library's mission and service (2020); the Education Justice Project, for its defense of the First Amendment rights of incarcerated individuals (2019); the Iowa Library Association (2018) for taking a leadership role in several highly visible challenges to intellectual freedom; and The Kansas City Public Library (2017) for its defense of a library patron's First Amendment rights.

SAGE Publishing provides an honorarium to the Downs Intellectual Freedom Award recipient and cohosts the reception held in honor of the recipient. The reception and award ceremony for the 2021 recipient will take place in June 2022 at the American Library Association Annual Conference.

Letters of nomination and documentation about the nominee should be sent by March 15, 2022, 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, Downs Award Chair
School of Information Sciences
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
501 East Daniel Street
Champaign, IL 61820

Please email any questions to Associate Professor Terry Weech.

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