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2014 Election Statements of Interest
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Statements of Qualification and Concern from Nominees for the Board of Trustees, 2014–2016

Candidates for the Board of Trustees are required to submit a statement of no more than 150 words, indicating the candidate’s concern for intellectual freedom and his or her qualifications for office. The following statements are in alphabetical order.

Michael Baldwin, Director, Benbrook Public Library, Benbrook, TX

I am delighted to be considered for the Board of FTRF. I am passionate about intellectual freedom and protection of First Amendment rights, and I believe librarians must be leaders in that effort. I am a former teacher of American government and a public librarian for over 40 years. I was chair of TLA’s Committee on Intellectual Freedom and have written and spoken frequently on the importance of First Amendment freedoms. I am the author of the poem, I’m A Librarian, which includes a section on IF, and which was posted on the Public Libraries Division website in 2003. I am also the author of the professional articles Can Libraries Save Democracy? (LJ, 2002) and Librarians As Knowledge Provocateurs (Public Libraries, 2007), both of which advocate IF. I recently created the website, a free service to libraries intended to strengthen American democracy through informed, responsible citizenship.


Thom Barthelmess, Curator, Butler Children’s Literature Center, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Dominican University, River Forest, IL

Intellectual freedom is not an abstract ideal. It is a real and powerful principle that lives on the ground, with concrete, tangible benefits. It protects the freedom to choose and to consume. It recognizes simple humanity as the singular requirement for the pursuit of knowledge. It promises access. But beyond these benefits to the individual, intellectual freedom brings great value to the community, as well. For in its assertion that reading belongs to the reader, it fosters a culture of respect and grace; we are bound together by our curiosity and interest in the world we share, not broken apart according to specific, sometimes conflicting ideologies. I will bring to the FTRF Board a strong commitment to the principles of intellectual freedom and a practical understanding of what it takes to protect it and what we all get when it is preserved.


Martin Garnar, Reference Services Librarian and Professor of Library Science, Regis University, Denver, CO

While still in library school, I joined the state intellectual freedom committee and I’ve never looked back.  I’ve devoted the bulk of my professional activities to promoting and protecting the core principles of the library profession.  I’ve served as a member and chair of the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee and have been appointed for my 4th consecutive year as chair of the ALA Committee on Professional Ethics.  Both of these opportunities have given me a solid grounding in the legal and ethical issues surrounding intellectual freedom.   In addition to my main work as head of reference and instruction at Regis University in Denver, I also teach professional ethics at the University of Denver’s LIS program because I believe in giving back to the profession.  As a member of the FTRF Board, I will provide guidance and leadership to ensure that FTRF continues to be a stalwart supporter of intellectual freedom.


Robert Hubsher, Executive Director, Ramapo Catskill Library System, Middletown, NY

I have actively worked to protect and promote Intellectual Freedom throughout my life. Since moving to the United States in 2000 I have been a staunch defender of the First Amendment. I served on the New York Library Association (NYLA) Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) from 2003 until 2013 and was Chair from 2006 until 2013. During my tenure I oversaw the updating and revision of the NYLA Intellectual Freedom Manual.  I served on the ALA IFC Privacy Sub-Committee from 2004 to 2009. Since 2012 I have been the Chair of the PLA IFC, also acting as the PLA Liaison to the ALA IFC and the FTRF. My commitment to intellectual freedom was tested when as a new US resident, with a work visa, I participated on several panels speaking out against provisions of the USA Patriot Act negatively affecting libraries. Serving on the Board of the FTRF would be an honor.

Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, School Library Journal, New York, NY

Safeguarding our First Amendment rights is a central tenet of librarianship, but greater outreach is needed to both educate and engage the public in this critical work. In my professional role, I’m uniquely positioned to help lead these efforts. I began at SLJ reporting on book challenges in schools, and through my past position as Executive Editor of Technology and Digital Projects to my current one, I have influence in the broader education and technology community, which would benefit the goals of FTRF. In addition to the ongoing book challenges, digital formats present intellectual freedom and privacy issues, which are evolving and, again, require public education. As Executive Editor, I have broad purview over SLJ and help guide our editorial strategy. I’m experienced at project development, from forging a recent partnership with LEGO Education to spearheading a dedicated issue on diversity. I would be honored to serve the cause of FTRF.  


Julius C. Jefferson Jr., Information Research Specialist, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

I am honored to be nominated for another term on the FTRF Board. I seek to be re-elected because I believe my work on the Board is not complete. I want to continue working on issues that will strengthen FTRF’s impact and role defending First Amendment issues.

I have served as Vice President and currently serve as President of FTRF. As a member of the Executive Committee I have supported and will continue to support cases such as the Tucson Mexican-American Studies program and SBAL v. Driehaus that reinforce how important and vital intellectual freedom is to the library community and our nation.

If re-elected I want to continue to focus on fundraising and marketing with a goal of increasing membership and participation. I want to focus on enhancing existing relationships and building coalitions with other organizations whose mission is aligned with FTRF. Finally, I remain committed to FTRF and its principles.


Em Claire Knowles, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Boston, MA

It is an honor to be nominated for the Freedom to Read Foundation Board.  In my role as dean of students at Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science, with fond memories of Judith Krug, who taught our course in Intellectual Freedom, I encourage students to join the FTRF as they pursue positions in academic, public, and school libraries.  From this initial involvement, students are learning how to protect the First Amendment.  As a past member of the ALA Executive Board and an ALA council­or, the reports on Intellectual Freedom were essential to keep me apprised of the issues facing the First Amendment as they impact librarians, publishers, and others in the book and electronic worlds.  I have also served as a trustee on several public library boards.  If elected, I will work to expand, diversify, and engage a wider audience to preserve the rights of free access.


Gretchen McCord, attorney/ trainer/ consultant, Austin, TX

After six years as an academic librarian in the 1990s, my interest in legal issues surrounding the Internet and information in a digital environment led me to law school.  I was specifically interested in copyright, privacy, and First Amendment—in a nutshell: intellectual freedom.  Intellectual freedom will survive and flourish in the digital arena only if we, as a society, protect individual privacy, guard First Amendment rights, and establish strong user rights under copyright law.

I currently practice and teach copyright and privacy law, working with libraries of all types and educational institutions.  I have been active in the library profession for over twenty years, including serving as President of the Texas Library Association in 2005–06.  My current service includes copyright-focused committees and groups in ALA, and Board of Directors of Amigos Library Services.  I believe my back­ground will allow me to play a valuable role on the FTRF Board.


Pattie Piotrowski, Assistant Dean for Public Services, Illinois Institute of Technology, Paul V. Galvin Library, Chicago, IL


Almost a half century after its inception it would be wonderful if the need for the FRTF was winding down, but one look at schools, libraries and the courts reveals that the FTRF is as essential as ever. I am honored to be nominated for the board, and grateful for those who came before me who were willing to fight for First Amendment rights for all. I intend to continue that effort. Choosing librarianship as a career aligned with my personal code of ensuring access to information, a belief in transparency, and a dedicated stance against censorship. After more than 15 years in the profession, I am willing to work hard to educate, advocate and outreach on behalf of the FTRF’s principles. It’s important FTRF retains lofty goals while reaching out to those on the front lines—teachers, librarians, students and parents—and be an inclusive organization.


Julia Warga, Social Sciences Librarian, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH

The earlier in their career librarians engage with FTRF, the longer they can serve the Foundation and its interests. I know this because early in my career, I served as the NMRT and LIRT liaisons to the Foundation. These roles prepared me for years of continued service to FTRF.

I believe strongly in increasing FTRF’s visibility and membership and have done so through my participation as:

  • Member of five Gordon M. Conable Scholarship committees

  • Member of Membership and Fundraising committees

  • IFRT Immediate Past Chair

  • LLAMA Liaison to the IFC and FTRF

If elected, I will continue to energetically recruit librarians and First Amendment allies to join FTRF and become as active as I am.

I am honored to run for Trustee, and I am proud of my service to FTRF and intellectual freedom. The more active members we have and the stronger our passion, the more FTRF can accomplish.


Michael Wright, Interim Associate University Librarian and Director, Collections and Scholarly Communication, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

It would be a great honor to serve on the FTRF Board.   I offer experience that is both relevant and varied, including a current appointment to ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, previous service as ALCTS liaison to IFC, and a number of years as Iowa Library Association’s IF chair.  Still active in state IF issues, I recently helped develop a coalition and strategies to successfully defeat proposed anti-privacy legislation.  Well-seasoned in fiscal operations, I manage a $14.3 M budget at work, and serve as President of the Iowa Library Association Foundation.  Elected to the City Council of Iowa City, Iowa (pop. 70,000) I not only worked with complicated finances, but worked hard on issues related to affordable housing and neighborhood stabilization.  I am a longtime advocate for LGBT rights at the state and national levels, as well as an advocate for various First Amendment and social justice issues.

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