News Release: Freedom to Read Foundation Announces 2024 Conable Conference Scholarship Recipients

Joyce McIntosh FTRF - June 21, 2024

Etana Laing, MLIS student at the INFO College, is one of two recipients of this prestigious scholarship

Freedom to Read Foundation Logo

Chicago, IL – The Conable Conference Scholarship honors the memory of Gordon Conable, a past president of the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF). Conable, who was also an American Library Association (ALA) Councilor, was a tireless champion of intellectual freedom and dedicated to mentoring future leaders of the library profession. Mentoring those new to the profession was an important undertaking for Gordon, and the FTRF Board of Trustees is pleased to be able to honor his memory by creating mentoring opportunities for students and new librarians. The Conable Scholarship does this by providing financial assistance to a new librarian or library student who shows a particular interest in intellectual freedom and wishes to attend the ALA Annual Conference.

This year, the Freedom to Read Foundation Conable Conference Committee members have named two scholarship recipients, who will receive full scholarships to attend the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference next week in San Diego, California. Each recipient, Etana Laing and Tif Sutherland, were chosen from the largest class of applicants in the history of the scholarship.

Etana Laing is an MLIS student at the University of Maryland-College Park and a library associate at Bowie State University. She also has a book club for Black women and people with lived experience of misogynoir called Revolutionary Reads.

Upon receiving news of the scholarship, Laing said “The rising number of book challenges and bans in the United States reflects the times we are living in, where our rights are being stripped away before our eyes, DEI initiatives are walked back, anti-LGBTQIA+ and Islamophobic rhetoric is on the rise, and the list continues. Intellectual freedom is a critical tool to fight these issues and is the root of my passion for this work.”

Tif Sutherland, the second recipient, is Reference Supervisor at Calvert Library in Maryland and President of the Maryland Library Association, leads a team of seven librarians focused on instruction, access, and equity for a community of 100,000. They are committed to advocating for library support and training library supporters, leadership focused on soft skills, developing customer service-focused library workers, and delivering community and data-driven services, with a strong focus on advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion within the library landscape.

Sutherland shared the following, “Intellectual freedom is the foundation of an engaged and informed community. My staunch dedication to this principle has been strengthened during my time as the President of the Maryland Library Association. I’ve seen library workers so dedicated to their vital positions as resources and support for their communities balance their roles with external forces bent on making the work they do more challenging. Diverse perspectives and stories provide information and ideas that encourage literacy, learning, idea-sharing, and democracy.”

The Freedom to Read Foundation is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit legal and educational organization affiliated with the American Library Association that is dedicated to protecting and defending each person’s First Amendment right to read and the right of library workers to serve the information needs of their community. Since 1969 FTRF trustees, staff, and members have worked to protect First Amendment rights through education, litigation, and advocacy. To learn more about the Gordon Conable Scholarship and the Freedom to Read Foundation, please visit

Original Release