Associate Professor Emily Knox has received the 2023 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award from the Intellectual Freedom Round Table of the American Library Association (ALA). She was selected for the award, which recognizes the best published work in the area of intellectual freedom, for her book, Foundations of Intellectual Freedom (ALA Neal-Schuman, 2022).
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.
Offered biennially since 1986, 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. Knox will receive the award, which consists of a $500 award and a certificate, at the Intellectual Freedom Event at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.
"It is an honor to receive the Oboler Award this year especially when intellectual freedom is under attack across our country,” said Knox. “The ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom just announced that there were over 1,200 reported challenges last year, more than double the reported number in 2021. In my talks on this issue, I encourage librarians and community members to be prepared for a challenge by joining Unite Against Book Bans. If you are a young person, check out NCAC's Student Advocates for Free Speech. Most importantly, show up to support your local public libraries and schools!"
Knox's research interests include information access, intellectual freedom, censorship, information ethics, information policy, and the intersection of print culture and reading practices. Her book, Book Banning in 21st Century America, was published by Rowman & 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 & Littlefield) and is co-editor of Foundations of Information Ethics (ALA Neal-Schuman). Her articles have been published in Library Quarterly, Library & Information Science Research, and the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy. She received her PhD from the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University and her MSLIS from the iSchool at Illinois.