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OELMA's Intellectual Freedom & LIteracy Leader Awards

6 Mar 2024 12:03 PM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

According to the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, “the freedom to read is essential to our democracy.” In fact, the ALA created the Library Bill of Rights based on the First Amendment to guide librarians when serving their communities and protecting the rights of all patrons. The Bill of Rights states that library books and resources “should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves,” and these materials should present “all points of view on current and historical issues.” Finally, libraries are charged to “challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”

This week, the Awards Committee is focusing on two awards that support intellectual freedom and the importance of literacy in our schools and communities: the Intellectual Freedom Award and the Literacy Leader Award.

The OELMA Intellectual Freedom Award recognizes Ohio school library media specialists and/or other Ohio educators who demonstrate support for the ALA’s principles of intellectual freedom. Award recipients exhibit a strong commitment to First Amendment values through the active promotion and defense of the Freedom to Read and ALA’s Principles of Intellectual Freedom. 

Our 2023 Intellectual Freedom Award winner was Hannah Green, a library media specialist at Whetstone High School (Columbus City Schools). When her district asked the school librarians to not distribute the diverse collection books, Hannah started a letter writing campaign, arranged a meeting with the acting Superintendent, created a power point presentation, and persisted with the other CCS librarians until their voices were heard. Hannah became the face of this censorship battle but strongly stated that she could not have done it without her many colleagues. Through the efforts of Hannah and her colleagues, the books were released to be placed on the library shelves so students could access them. Hannah’s words of wisdom for us as censorship continues to be an issue many of us fear facing are, "Just remember there is great strength in numbers. You are not alone in this fight!”

Next, the OELMA Literacy Leader Award is unique because it recognizes community organizations for exemplary support of literacy that reinforces student learning. Recipients of this award are also recommended for an AASL Commendation by OELMA. Recipients of this award demonstrate a strong, ongoing commitment to developing literacy through educational programming and/or grassroots literacy program implementation. 

Last year’s award recipients included the As Told By Foundation, Green Schools Foundation, and Queen City Book Bank. The As Told By Foundation and Queen City Book Bank also received an AASL Commendation.

Lift your reading voice and let it ring for intellectual freedom and for student literacy and learning. Nominate yourself, a colleague, or a community organization by April 1, 2024. If you have any questions, please reach out to the OELMA Awards Committee. The email is

Best regards,

The Awards Committee

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© 2022 Ohio Educational Library Media Association

2022 Ohio Educational Library Media Association

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