ALA presents 2011 James Madison Award During Sunshine Week, March 13 - 19, 2011

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Originally appeared March 16, 2011 in a press release.  

Sunshine Week – the time to celebrate and investigate open government! Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.

Though created by journalists, Sunshine Week is about the public's right to know what its government is doing, and why. Sunshine Week seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger. Sunshine Week is a nonpartisan, non-profit initiative.

For this year's Sunshine week, ALA participated in two events:

The first Freedom of Information Day celebration on March 16, where American Library Association (ALA) President Roberta Stevens today awarded the 2011 James Madison Award to Patrice McDermott, director of, during the 13th annual National Freedom of Information Day Conference celebration at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

McDermott’s commitment to vigilantly defending our freedoms has included many accomplishments over the years.  Most recently, while at, Patrice led an independent audit of federal agency open government plans.

rior to that, McDermott worked as the senior information policy analyst for OMB Watch, a nonprofit research, educational and advocacy organization whose goals include promoting public access to government information and encouraging broad public participation in government decision-making to promote a more open and accountable government.

McDermott also previously served as deputy director of the ALA Office of Government Relations, where she led the office’s work on government information and privacy policy and e-government policy issues, and as the assistant director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association in Chicago.

During the ceremony, Stevens highlighted McDermott’s impact on ALA.

“She joined the ALA Office of Government Relations just days after 9-11 and was a tremendous leader within our community – and for all of us here today – in the struggle to bring balance to the USA PATRIOT Act and the many related and very challenging issues on surveillance and privacy,” Stevens said.

This event is sponsored by the American Library Association, the First Amendment Center, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, OMB Watch,, and the National Security Archive at George Washington University; and in cooperation with the annual Sunshine Week initiative sponsored by the American Society of News Editors.

The second event is the annual Sunshine Week Webcast. This year’s event, titled “ The Road Forward on Open Government,” takes place on March 18, from noon to 1:30 p.m. 

How have libraries impacted you?  Take part in Sunshine week or any week and let your local government officials or ALA's I Love Libraries know the vital role libraries have played or do play in your life.