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American Library Association (ALA) President Molly Raphael presented Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) with one of the association’s highest honors — the James Madison Award. Lofgren received the award during the National Freedom of Information Day Conference held at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

The James Madison Award, named in honor of President James Madison, was established by the ALA in 1986 to honor individuals or groups who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s “right to know” on the national level. The award is presented annually on the anniversary of Madison’s birth during Freedom of Information (FOI) Day, March 16.

Lofgren was recognized both for her commitment to sponsoring legislation that strengthens the public’s right to access information and her opposition to legislation that impedes First Amendment rights.

“The American public has a true advocate in Representative Lofgren. Time and again she stands up for their right to access information in its many forms,” Raphael said.

She is a cosponsor of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). Introduced in February, the bill is aimed at improving access to federally funded research. It requires taxpayer-funded manuscripts to be made available to the public online and without cost, no later than six months after the article was published. The bill would expand the amount of research made available to the masses and would further the work of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, which ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research no later than 12 months after publication.

Recently Lofgren fought against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), legislation that would require Internet service providers to police users’ activities in an attempt to combat online infringement overseas. Recognizing the potential harm that SOPA could have on First Amendment rights, intellectual freedom and privacy, Lofgren fought tirelessly to oppose the bill.

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Jessica McGilvray

Jessica McGilvray is a former member of the Washington Office government relations team.

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