April 21, 2018

NJ Librarian Named Winner of 2006 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award

By LJ Staff

Michele Reutty, former director of the Hasbrouck Heights Public Library, NJ, has been named winner of the 2006 Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award for her resistance to a police request to supply library circulation records without a subpoena. Her posture of abiding by state law, as well as her consultatio with a lawyer familiar with library law – rather than the borough lawyer – meant she faced criticism and then disciplinary action from the library’s board. She eventually resigned and took a job as director of the Oakland Public Library, NJ. She is the vice-president and president-elect of the New Jersey Library Association.

The award is given by the faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. "Michele Reutty’s insistence that proper procedure be followed before patron records were released is the kind of protection of intellectual freedom that the Downs Award is meant to recognize," said GSLIS Associate Professor Terry Weech. "Michele’s stand is the kind of front line defense of the principles of due process that Robert B. Downs stood for in his many years of dedication to intellectual freedom and the protection of library users’ right to privacy." A reception to honor Reutty will be held during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting.