Toni Samek (2012)

toniAffiliation at the time of the award: University of Alberta, School of Library and Information Studies.

Citation: Toni Samek’s research interests, personal and professional passions, and discipline work in ways defying easy explanation, but they coalesce around her central conviction: “I am an activist teacher who pushes for the right to education.” A student says, “This is the most inspiring professor I have encountered.” Toni is herself inspired by Thomas Sergiovanni’s insistence that “leaders are ‘canny outlaws,’ system benders,” and she expands the audience for her convictions from her classroom and published research, to international forums on information ethics, freedom of expression, and freedom of access to information. With great individual freedom comes great responsibility.

Toni lives this motto and follows her principles with incredible energy and conviction. Her absolute belief in freedom of speech and access to information, freedom from censorship by oneself or by others, inspires students and colleagues far and wide, as she leads by her ideas and by her example. Her courses include, “Teaching Humanistic Concerns Through Roundtable Discussion” and “Teaching Critical Thinking Through Deep Engagement with Real-World Policy Development.” In word and deed, Dr. Samek is drum-tight with ardent conviction. Perhaps a former student’s hand-written note says it most clearly: “A huge thank you for speaking at and participating in Banned Books Café 2010! Keep fighting the good fight!”