There is help available.
The LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund offers a lifeline to librarians who face employment crises because they are defending intellectual freedom, or facing discrimination.
The Merritt Fund notes these examples:
- A librarian who was harassed at work for belonging to a minority religious group.
- A library director who was threatened with losing her job for not turning over confidential library records to police.
- A librarian who needed help paying her rent while litigating an age discrimination case.
Since it was established in 1970, the Fund has been able to help dozens of librarians (defined broadly as not only those holding MLIS degrees) by providing financial assistance. There are no restrictions on how the recipient may use the money. Grants are confidential, but you can read a few chilling stories of the peril faced by some librarians who wanted to share how the Merritt Fund provided crucial support.
It’s all of us, together
It’s important to know where the money comes from: it’s librarians, helping other librarians. The Fund was established as a special trust in memory of a long-time champion of intellectual freedom, Dr. LeRoy C. Merritt. And it has been sustained over the years by donations from others of us – through fundraiser receptions at Annual and Midwinter meetings, designated financial support from the Intellectual Freedom Round Table, and individual donations. Grant recipients themselves often gratefully repay the fund when they are able, sometimes donating additional amounts.
Shh! definitely doesn’t apply
Please spread the word about this amazing safety net we all hold out for each other. Let others know that there is help available. The Office for Intellectual Freedom provides guidance and counsel for those facing challenges, and the Freedom to Read Foundation fights legal battles on our behalf, but this additional assistance for colleagues in distress isn’t well-enough known.
And please consider making your own donation.
Laura Jenkins is a former Co-Chair of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee, and a new member of the IFRT Merritt Fund Support Committee.