Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize 2018
The Progressive Librarians Guild’s (PLG) Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize Committee is pleased to announce that Alessandra Seiter from Simmons College is the 2018 winner of the Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize for her essay “Libraries, Power, and Justice: Toward a Sociohistorically Informed Intellectual Freedom.” Seiter earned a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Vassar College and is currently employed by Boston’s Houghton Library as well as having two graduate research assistant positions for Simmons College and the Boston Public Library. She will earn her MSLS in December 2018.
Seiter’s essay “critically examines the concept of intellectual freedom and the central role it plays in the U.S. library and information science (LIS) profession, challenging the concept’s assumed basis in neutrality and demonstrating the active barrier it presents in its current implementation to existing and future social justice efforts. The paper argues that if LIS is to move from making ineffective calls for equity, diversity, and inclusion to actively working for justice within and beyond the field, then it must adopt an understanding of intellectual freedom that fundamentally considers the sociohistorical context of power in LIS, the United States, and the world.”
The Braverman Memorial Prize is awarded annually to a student in Library Science or Archival Studies for an essay submitted on the theme of progressive or activist librarianship. As winner of the prize, Seiter receives a $500 stipend towardexpenses at ALA Annual, and her essay will be published in an upcoming issue of Progressive Librarian, the PLG Journal. Additionally, she will be given the opportunity to apply her perspective in writing about the conference for the PLG bulletin.
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. 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, most recently to Matthew Weirick Johnson in 2017, for his essay Personal Health Data, Surveillance, & Biopolitics: Toward a Personal Health Data Information Literacy.” Past prize-winning essays can be found on PLG's website at progressivelibrariansguild.org/content/award.shtml.
The Progressive Librarians Guild is committed to providing a forum for the open exchange of radical views on library issues, as well as taking stands on issues confronting library workers and the world around them. Its members reject the sterile notion of the neutrality of librarianship, and strongly oppose the commodification of information which turns the 'information commons' into privatized, commercialized zones. For more information or to join PLG, visit the group's website at progressivelibrariansguild.org. If you are at ALA Annual in New Orleans, please plan to join members of PLG at their meeting on Sunday June 24th from 4:30 – 5:30 at the Morial Convention Center, Room 225 where the Braverman Prize winner will present her work.