You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Join TLA

Sam G. Whitten Intellectual Freedom Award

The Sam J. Whitten Intellectual Freedom Award is awarded annually to an individual or organization in the library community who actively promotes intellectual freedom in Texas. The award is presented at the TLA Annual Conference.

TLA 2023: In Llano County, seven citizens exemplified courage under fire. These individuals became close friends and strong allies in the fight to protect their community’s public library when elected officials, prompted by a small group of residents, began removing books from library shelves. The group organized meetings, filed and funded public information requests, sifted through thousands of pages of public records, wrote elected officials, and spoke out at public meetings. They have been champions of intellectual freedom: Leila Green Little, Jeanne Puryear, Cynthia Waring, Rebecca Jones, Rick Day, Kathy Kennedy, Diane Moster

Anyone who is actively promoting intellectual freedom in Texas is eligible for the Sam J. Whitten Intellectual Freedom Award. Intellectual freedom is defined by the American Library Association as “the freedom to express one’s beliefs or ideas through any mode of communication and the right of unrestricted access to all information and ideas regardless of the medium of communication used.”

Nominees are evaluated on:

  • The role they have played in actively promoting intellectual freedom in their sphere of influence and beyond;
  • The degree to which they exemplify the spirit of intellectual freedom; and
  • The impact that their efforts to promote intellectual freedom have had on the community and those they serve.

Supporting documentation can include information such as:

  • Examples of defending censorship attempts at their library or in their community
  • Descriptions of programming activities and other methods of encouraging intellectual freedom on a continuing basis in their community
  • Documented reports of the role which the nominee has played in promoting intellectual freedom.
Past Whitten Intellectual Freedom Award Recipients