The Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) is pleased to announce that Indiana University (IU) graduate student Kyle Shockey is the 2015 winner of the Miriam Braverman Memorial prize for his essay "Intellectual Freedom Is Not Social Justice: The Symbolic Capital of Intellectual Freedom in ALA Accreditation and LIS Curricula." Mr. Shockey earned his Bachelor of Musical Arts in Music and Education from DePauw University and will graduate in August from the Department of Information and Library Science at IU with a MLS. Mr. Shockey came to progressive and critical librarianship through the twitter #critlib community and the mentorship of IU associate professor Ron Day. He hopes to bring this interest to academic librarianship and eventually pursue further education toward work in LIS education.

Shockey's paper argues that intellectual freedom is taught in ALA-accredited LIS programs as a way of encouraging library neutrality, which rather than truly being neutral, supports the status quo. Furthermore, the symbolic capital of ALA accreditation maintains the ALA-sanctioned definition of intellectual freedom in the profession through guiding the classroom definition taught to future librarians. In talking about his paper, Shockey offers the "ALA puts a lot of weight behind a very specific, historically located version of intellectual freedom that seems to have its hand in everything the association does...including accrediting library schools." He presented a version of this paper at the 2015 Symposium on LIS education held at University of Illinois in April, 2015. Shockey looks forward to having his piece published in Progressive Librarian, where he hopes "to get people thinking about what we're teaching and how it affects the profession we compromise."

The Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize

The Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize is awarded each year by the Progressive Librarians Guild for the best paper about some aspect of the social responsibilities of librarians, libraries, or librarianship. Papers related to archivists, archives, and archival work are also eligible.

The award honors Miriam Ruth Gutman Braverman (1920-2002), who was a socialist, writer, activist librarian, and longstanding member of the Progressive Librarians Guild, a founder of the ALA's Social Responsibilities Round Table, and a proponent of the social responsibilities perspective within Library and Information Science. The award is intended to celebrate Miriam's spirit of activism and faith in the power of people's collective social justice efforts and inspire future generations of librarians. The award has been given annually since 2003.

The winning paper will be published in the summer issue of Progressive Librarian. The prize winner will also receive a $500 stipend to help offset the cost of travel to and from the American Library Association's (ALA) Annual Conference. The award will be presented at the annual PLG dinner at ALA, and the winner is invited to present their paper at the PLG meeting. In addition, the winner will be provided a press pass for the conference, allowing for free entry to sessions and the exhibition floor with the expectation they will write a short reflection for publication by PLG.


1. Contestants must be Library and/or Information Science students attending a graduate-level program in the United States or Canada. Contestants may not have finished their coursework earlier than December 2014.

2. Entries must be the original, unpublished work of the contestant, and must be written in English. Entries may not exceed 3,000 words, and must conform to MLA formatting and style.

3. To facilitate the blind review process, each entry must include a cover sheet providing the contestant's name, full contact information (address, phone number, e-mail address), name of the institution where the contestant is enrolled, and the title of the paper. No identifying information, other than the title, should appear on the paper itself.

4. Entries must be submitted electronically, in PDF format, to bravermansubmissions at Entries must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. CST on international workers’ day, or May Day, May 1, 2015.

5. The $500 stipend is available only to help defray the cost of ALA conference attendance in the winning year; if the winner of the contest is unable to attend, the money will remain in the Braverman Prize endowment fund.

Any questions regarding the contest or the selection process can be directed to the chairs of the selection committee, Margaret Browndorf and Kelly McElroy.

Past Winners