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Amy Dodson receives the 2021 Paul Howard Award for Courage

CHICAGO – The Paul Howard Award for Courage Jury is pleased to announce that Amy Dodson, director of the Douglas County Public Library (DCPL) in Nevada, is the recipient of the 2021 American Library Association (ALA) Paul Howard Award for Courage. The award, consisting of $1,000 and a gold-framed citation, honors individuals who have exhibited courage for the benefit of library programs or services in the face of adversity.

Dodson and DCPL made national news in July 2020 after she and her staff drafted a statement of solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter – openly denouncing racism and racial inequality – and posted it to the library’s social media. In response, the library began receiving negative messages and threats via mail, email and social media.  Dodson also experienced backlash from local county agencies, including the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, which issued a letter threatening to withhold police protection from DCPL. Local supporters of Black Lives Matter came to Dodson’s defense, peacefully protesting the statement issued by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and were met with an armed counterprotest.

Additionally, on Aug. 25, 2020, the DCPL Board of Trustees voted to spend up to $30,000 on a third-party investigation into the actions of Dodson and her staff. That investigation exonerated Dodson of wrongdoing and concluded that she had not violated DCPL policy in drafting and posting the diversity statement.

For more information on these events, please see Lisa Peet’s article published in Library Journal and Holly Eberle’s blog post on the ALA Intellectual Freedom Blog.

Paul Howard defined courage as “the quality of mind which enables one to face adversity, difficulty, or danger with resolution and fortitude . . . it is that characteristic which enables librarians to seek the achievement of goals in spite of all opposing forces.” Dodson rose to meet the challenges and threats of these opposing forces, while continuing to support and advocate for racial justice, equality, and the roles libraries play in developing both. As Jim DelRosso wrote in his nomination letter: “Amy Dodson faced months of adversity and danger with a steadfast commitment to her principles and to the goals set forth by her library. She has demonstrated rare and powerful courage.”

Please join us in congratulating Amy Dodson as the 2021 recipient of the ALA Paul Howard Award for Courage. The award will be presented Sunday, June 27 during the American Library Association virtual Annual Conference. 

Paul Howard Award Jury 2021 Members: Christopher Proctor (chair), Indiana University Southeast; Robin Kear, University of Pittsburgh; Susan Kusel, Temple Rodef Shalom Library; Jennifer Maddox Abbott, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Shali Zhang, Auburn University.

More information about the Paul Howard Award for Courage Award, including how to submit a nomination, is available on the ALA website (



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