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January 5, 2006

2005 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award

From Library Journal:

"John Doe" To Get 2005 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award
— January 5, 2006

The 2005 Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award, to be awarded at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting January 21 in San Antonio, will be given to an unidentified recipient: "John Doe" of the court case John Doe v. Gonzales, a legal challenge to a National Security Letter requesting library patron records. The award is presented by the faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. "It takes courage to defend the principles of intellectual freedom in libraries—to insist that every person has the right to read, think and inquire without fear," said Leigh Estabrook, director of the Library Research Center and Professor at GSLIS. "This year we honor an unnamed individual for his or her courage in defending intellectual freedom when it was not even possible to talk to friends, family or other professionals. This person not only stood alone at the moment of upholding principle; but has to remain isolated because of the gag order under the USA PATRIOT Act."

Though the award will be accepted by a third party—accepting it would violate the gag order—the identity of John Doe is an open secret. The Washington Post has identified the plaintiff as George Christian of Library Connection Inc., a Windsor, CT-based consortium. However, neither the Library Connection nor the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the plaintiff, has commented publicly. ALA and other groups have supported "John Doe," saying it was important to speak out on these issues during the debate about reauthorizing the USA PATRIOT Act.

Link to article here.

Posted by kstover2 at January 5, 2006 11:11 AM