America Library Association Honors Free Flow of Information

Grantees in this story

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(Scott Barbour/Getty)

The America Library Association, to honor the free flow of information in our democracy, is bestowing its annual James Madison Award on Seamus Kraft, the executive director of The OpenGov Foundation. OpenGov produces civic software to promote citizen participation in government and the making of laws.

The award is given on March 16, which is both James Madison’s birthday and National Freedom of Information Day. While Madison, who was president of the United States from 1809 to 1817, wouldn’t know what to do with software and open source code, he was one of our earliest champions of transparency in government, individual rights, and the free flow of information. He drafted the U.S. Constitution, co-wrote the Federalist Papers, and sponsored the Bill of Rights.

The yearly holiday also celebrates the Freedom of Information Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson 50 years ago, to provide access to documents held by federal agencies, and uphold the public’s right to know how the American government operates.

Believing that information is important to a robust democracy, Carnegie Corporation of New York funded the National Security Archive putting freedom of information into action. The Archive is the leading nonprofit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which exists to increase government transparency by creating a public right of access to government information.

Gail Ablow is a Visiting Media Fellow at Carnegie Corporation of New York. Gail has been a leading documentary and investigative producer for ABC News, Bill Moyers and PBS, CNN, and CNBC.  Most recently, as a producer for Moyers & Co., she covered money and politics, economics and inequality, public participation in democracy, the criminal justice system, and explorations of contemporary culture on multiple platforms, including TV, web, and radio. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and contributors, not necessarily of the Corporation.