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Texas Library Association honors plaintiffs in Llano library lawsuit

Texas Library Association honors plaintiffs in Llano library lawsuit

On stage for the presentation of the Sam G. Whitten Intellectual Freedom Award at the Texas Library Association conference in Austin on April 22 were TLA President Mary Woodard; Llano County residents Leila Green Little, Jean Puryear, Cynthia Waring, Rebecca Jones, Richard Day, Kathy Kennedy, and Diane Moster; and Dean of Baylor University Libraries Jeffry Archer. The recipients are plaintiffs in a federal civil suit filed against Llano County for removing certain books from library circulation. Courtesy photo

The Texas Library Association bestowed its Sam G. Whitten Intellectual Freedom Award upon the seven plaintiffs in the Little vs. Llano County civil lawsuit during its annual conference in Austin on April 22. 

The suit was filed after the county removed certain books from library shelves and the online catalog, an act the plaintiffs say is censorship.

“In Llano County, seven citizens exemplified courage under fire,” said Jeffry Archer, dean of Baylor University Libraries, when making the presentation. “The group organized meetings, filed and funded public information requests, sifted through thousands of pages of public records, wrote public officials, and spoke out at public meetings. When these efforts did not move county officials, the group banded together to file a federal lawsuit against the county and individuals who participated in censoring materials at the public library.”

All seven Llano County residents were on hand to receive the award. Taking the stage to a standing ovation at the event were Leila Green Little, Jeanne Puryear, Kathy Kennedy, Rebecca Jones, Richard Day, Cynthia Waring, and Diane Moster.

“We were very honored to receive the award,” Little told “It was selected by the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Texas Library Association. It was a real honor and a privilege, and I was happy that all seven of us could be there.” 

The Sam G. Whitten award is a longtime tradition, said Wendy Woodland, director of Advocacy and Communications for the TLA, which is the largest state library association in the United States and advocates for public libraries and librarians.

“It’s an opportunity to honor people working to protect intellectual freedom and the right to read,” she said.