Six trustees elected to the Freedom to Read Foundation Board
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Posted by: Yumeka Brown
Six people were elected to two-year terms on the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) Board of Trustees in the annual FTRF election held this past April. Current FTRF Vice President Emily Knox and Executive Committee member Robert Holley were both re-elected to the board. Peter Coyl, Sara Dallas, Eldon Ray James, and Cyndi Robinson were newly elected. The candidates will join the FTRF Board of Trustees following the June Freedom to Read Foundation meeting in Washington, DC. Learn more about the candidates:
Peter Coyl is the director of the Montclair (NJ) Public Library (MPL). Prior to becoming director of MPL, Coyl was the manager of Dallas Public Library’s J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, running the day-to-day operations of the fourth largest public central library in the US. Active in the American Library Association (ALA), he is the former chair of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table and the Stonewall Book Awards and currently serves as a member of the Intellectual Freedom Committee. He has presented at regional, state, and national library conferences as well as webinars with ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. Coyl earned a Master's degree in Library and Information Science from Drexel University and a Bachelor's degree in Public Administration and Public Policy from Oakland University. In 2016 he was named to Drexel Magazine's 40 Under 40 List and was one of three librarians profiled by the Huffington Post in the April 2017 article “Librarians Across America Are Using Their Powers For Political Good.”
Robert “Bob” Holley, elected to a second term as trustee, is particularly interested in attracting new members to the Freedom to Read Foundation among library science students and in supporting legal efforts at all levels to support its principle of opposition to censorship. He has established an endowment, the Holley Fund, to further these efforts to which he makes a significant annual contribution. He has a long history of supporting intellectual freedom within ALA as member and chair of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), Intellectual Freedom Committee, many positions within the Intellectual Freedom Round Table including chair, and fifteen years’ service on Council. He is especially proud of having brought Dr. Marty Klein, sociologist, certified sex therapist, and policy analyst, to speak at the 2009 ALA Conference where Dr. Klein described the highly effective nationwide attack on sexual information and expression and explained why it undermines American pluralism and secular democracy. Holley’s other activities include speaking at the Charleston Conference on the use of non-traditional sources such as X-rated films as a valid way to better understand American culture and explaining the importance of the Library Bill of Rights to Michigan public library trustees. One of his chief goals for the next two years as trustee is to discover ways to increase the financial stability of the FTRF.
Bob Holley is a retired Professor Emeritus of the Wayne State University School of Information. He continues to be professionally active with multiple publications, committee appointments, and part-time teaching assignments.
While in federal prison, Eldon Ray James decided to become a librarian. Despite his age and circumstances, he made that happen by graduating from the University of Texas at Austin School of Information in 2007. By amazing serendipity he made Dr. Loriene Roy his advisor. The year he graduated, ALA chose Dr. Roy as ALA president and she took him to Washington as a part of her presidential party and introduced him to ALA and particularly a group called the Prisoners Forum, an interest group and the Association of Specialized Government & Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA, formally, ASCLA), where this ex-con found a family with correctional librarians.
One of those librarians shortly thereafter asked him to help write “Prisoners’ Right to Read: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” and help move it through the ALA. That experience led to the Intellectual Freedom Committee, Intellectual Freedom Round Table, and the Freedom to Read Foundation. ASGCLA needed a liaison to all three and he volunteered. FTRF welcomes liaisons on its committees and before long James was serving on all three intellectual freedom groups.
Now semi-retired, James works as a researcher and Freedom of Information Act specialist for a private company in Austin, Texas.
Emily Knox is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her book, Book Banning in 21st Century America (Rowman & Littlefield) is the first monograph in the Beta Phi Mu Scholars’ Series. She also recently edited Trigger Warnings: History, Theory Context (Rowman & Littlefield) and co-edited Foundations of Information Ethics (ALA). Her articles have been published in the Library Quarterly, Library and Information Science Research, and the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy. Knox serves on the boards of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Beta Phi Mu, the Freedom to Read Foundation and the National Coalition Against Censorship. Her research interests include information access, intellectual freedom and censorship, information ethics, information policy, and the intersection of print culture and reading practices. She is also a member of the Mapping Information Access research team. Knox received her Ph.D. from the doctoral program at the Rutgers University School of Communication & Information. Her master’s in library and information science is from the iSchool at Illinois. She also holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Smith College and an A.M. in the same field from The University of Chicago Divinity School.
Cyndi Robinson is the deputy director of the Illinois Library Association (ILA), where she works with members throughout the state to support the values of intellectual freedom. She has served as chair and treasurer of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table and currently serves on the ALA Committee on Advocacy.
Prior to joining the ILA staff, she served as the assistant director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom.
About the Freedom to Read Foundation
The Freedom to Read Foundation is a non-profit legal and educational organization affiliated with the American Library Association. FTRF was created in 1969 with the following purpose; promoting and protecting the freedom of speech and of the press; protecting the public's right of access to information and materials stored in the nation's libraries; safeguarding libraries' right to disseminate all materials contained in their collections; and supporting libraries and librarians in their defense of First Amendment rights by supplying them with legal counsel or the means to secure it.
The Freedom to Read Foundation is managed by a board of 15 trustees, 11 elected and four ex officio. Terms are two years, and board members may serve two terms. Trustees meet twice a year in conjunction with ALA Midwinter and Annual meetings.
Visit us at www.ftrf.org to learn more.