Wesleyan Librarian Receives Intellectual Freedom Award

Posted 12/07/07
Barbara Jones has taken her commitment to intellectual freedom around the world and back again.

The Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian has put forth extensive work on behalf of intellectual freedom, both in the United States and abroad. For her efforts, she received the 2007 Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award, given by the faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Dec. 3.

Jones’s work on behalf of the Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression has taken her to Costa Rica, Dubai and Mexico to present a series of workshops on such topics as access to HIV/AIDS information, internet access, and libraries in the fight against government corruption. She just completed hosting a workshop at Wesleyan, attended by librarians from Africa, East Asia and Latin America. She has presented papers on intellectual freedom at conferences in Croatia, Japan, and Norway, and over the next few years, Jones will visit Ecuador, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

In her position as Wesleyan’s head librarian, Jones has coordinated faculty programs on scholarly communication and the Patriot Act and serves as co-chair of the Intellectual Property Committee, working with university legal counsel on intellectual property and privacy presentations to faculty and students.

“Barbara is a respected authority on matters related to intellectual and academic freedom, and has been highly visible in her work. We are very fortunate to have the benefit of her expertise here at Wesleyan,” says Joe Bruno, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost.

Jones has been an active member of the American Library Association (ALA) and spent two terms as chair of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table. She is currently a member of the faculty of Lawyers for Libraries, a project of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom “designed to build a nationwide network of attorneys committed to the defense of the First Amendment freedom to read and the application of constitutional law to library policies, principles, and problems.” In 1999, the ALA honored Jones by naming her to the Freedom to Read Foundation Roll of Honor.

Jones is the author of Libraries, Access, and Intellectual Freedom: Developing Policies for Public and Academic Libraries. Her second book, Intellectual Freedom: Academic Libraries and Intellectual Freedom, will be published by the ALA in 2008.

Jones’ previous positions include coordinator of special collections and rare book and special collections librarian at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; head of reference at the Minnesota Historical Society; and head of cataloging at New York University’s Bobst Library. She earned her master’s degree in library science from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Minnesota.

A reception to honor Jones will take place during the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association at the Crowne Plaza in Philadelphia on Jan. 12, 2008. The Greenwood Publishing Group provides the honorarium to the recipient of the Downs Intellectual Freedom Award and also co-sponsors the reception. She will receive a $500 honorarium.

“The faculty members were impressed by Barbara’s contributions to the literature, her development of lectures, workshops and training sessions and her activities in national and international profession associations that represent over the years a commitment to the principles that guard intellectual freedom in the profession of librarianship,” says John Unsworth, professor and dean at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

The Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award is given annually to acknowledge individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it affects 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, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or long-term interest in, and dedication to, the cause of intellectual freedom. The award was established in 1969 by the GSLIS faculty to honor Robert Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on his 25th anniversary as director of the school.

Additional information about the award and past recipients can be found at www.lis.uiuc.edu/about/awards/downs-award.html.