Wesleyan Librarian Receives Intellectual Freedom Award
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
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
“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