The American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) Immroth Award Committee has announced Terri Lesley as the recipient of the 2022 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award, which honors notable contributions to intellectual freedom and demonstrations of personal courage in defense of freedom of expression.
Terri Lesley has led the staff and library board of Campbell County Public Library in Gillette, Wyoming through an onslaught of challenged materials and protests. Beginning in the summer of 2021, the number of challenges to unique titles rose from 3 in August to nearly 30 by the end of the year. Library board meetings have been very contentious and there have been repeated protests outside the library. In October 2021, two of the patrons who led the challenges went to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office to attempt to prosecute CCPL librarians, including Terri, of violating child sex laws based on five books they described as “hard-core pornography to children.”
Throughout this period, Terri has not only stood up for intellectual freedom for her patrons, she has also continued to build community support for her library through her interactions with the public. She has also strived to support her staff and maintain a strong working relationship with her board. Terri has shared what she’s learned with other library directors in Wyoming
“Terri’s commitment to intellectual freedom, her community, and her staff is second to none,” said Conrrado Saldivar, President of the Wyoming Library Association. “Her resolve and defense of library materials has been an inspiration to all library staff in Wyoming and ensures that her community can continue having a robust exchange of ideas and opinions.”
The award will be presented on Friday, June 24, at 7:00 p.m. EDT at ALA’s Annual Conference in Washington D.C.
Established in 1979, upon the death of John Phillip Immroth, the Immroth Memorial Award honors the courage, dedication, and contribution of a living individual, group, or organization who has set the finest kind of example for the defense and furtherance of the principles of intellectual freedom. The award consists of a citation and $500. John Phillip Immroth was a teacher, author, scholar, advocate, and defender of First Amendment rights. He was the founder and first chair of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table in 1973.