Tattered Cover's Joyce Meskis Receives ALA's Immroth and Roll of Honor Awards

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This week, the American Library Association (ALA) announced that Joyce Meskis, owner of Denver, Colorado’s Tattered Cover Book Store, is the recipient of the 2002 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award and the 2002 Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) Roll of Honor Award. Meskis and her colleagues at the Tattered Cover Book Store have won widespread acclaim as a result of the store’s legal battle in which it successfully defended the privacy rights of its customers.

"I'm honored to be the recipient of the awards of ALA," said Meskis. "And I have appreciated the opportunity to work with not only booksellers in the challenges that face the reading community that we serve but also with the many librarians who have been challenged over the years in the course of their fine work and service to their communities."

The Immroth Memorial Award honors "intellectual freedom fighters in and outside the library profession who have demonstrated remarkable personal courage in resisting censorship." The award consists of $500 and a citation and is presented by the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Round Table.

The FTRF Roll of Honor Award, established in 1987, recognizes "those individuals who have contributed substantially to FTRF through adherence to its principles and/or substantial monetary support." FTRF, the legal defense arm of ALA, was established in 1969 to promote and defend individuals’ right and access to free speech.

In being honored for the Immroth, Meskis was cited for her "long-standing dedication" to First Amendment rights, "most recently demonstrated by her stand to prevent law enforcement officials from seizing confidential customer records" relating to an investigation of a methamphetamine laboratory. Though a Colorado district court ruled against Meskis in October 2001, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the decision on April 8, 2002 (for more on the Tattered Cover case, click here.) FTRF was one of 15 groups that filed an amicus brief on behalf of Meskis’ bookstore.

"As the owner of the Tattered Cover bookstore, and as a defendant in a case, Ms. Meskis set a standard of personal commitment, which serves as a model for every bookstore owner," Immroth Award Committee Chair Pamela G. Bonnell said in a statement. "Throughout this ordeal with law enforcement officials, her advocacy and strong belief in the First Amendment did not waver….The Immroth Award Committee is extremely pleased to honor her notable contributions to the cause of intellectual freedom."

Noted Judith Krug, director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom: "I am ecstatic with the honors that [Meskis] has received. I don’t think there’s anyone more deserving. She’s been an inspiration to many of us for many years. This shows that librarians are cognizant of what she’s done for the First Amendment."

Also receiving this year's FTRF Roll of Honor Award is Candace D. Morgan, associate director of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library in Vancouver, Washington, and past president of FTRF. Morgan recently testified before Congress and in federal court against the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Both award ceremonies will be held on Saturday, June 15, during the ALA Annual Conference in Atlanta.