Saturday, January 21, 2012

What is Freedom of Information Day? Who was James Madison? Why was Christie D. Vernon involved?

Christie D. Vernon-Past President of VLA, Scottie Cochrane-Past President of VLA, Liz Hamilton-then President of the Virginia Library Association-1990

Christie D. Vernon became a champion of Freedom of Information (FOI) Day celebrations in the 1980s, when she and I had both been presidents of the Virginia Library Association (VLA). Christie hatched the idea of partnering with the staff of Montpelier to present a VLA FOI proclamation at Madison's grave on his birthday. This blog tells the story of the first such occasion on March 16, 1990. 

What is Freedom of Information Day?
From the American Library Association web site:
Freedom of Information Day - March 16, 2012
Freedom of Information (FOI) Day is an annual event on or near March 16, the birthday of James Madison, who is widely regarded as the Father of the Constitution and as the foremost advocate for openness in government. Each year, the James Madison Award and the Eileen Cooke State & Local Madison Award are presented by the American Library Association Washington (DC) Office on Freedom of Information Day to recognize those individuals or groups that have championed, protected, and promoted public access to government information and the public's right to know
Who was James Madison and where did he live?

A short biography of James Madison, fourth president of the U.S., is found on the official White House web site.
Madison's biography from

His estate in Virginia's piedmont "horse country" with gorgeous rolling pastures is called Montpelier. It is in Orange County northeast of Charlottesville. Montpelier has been restored over the past 20 years to its full glory today (2012). Owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, it was in rather rough shape when Christie Vernon, Bill Kitchin, Louis Middleman, and I visited in 1990. We were there representing the Virginia Library Association to celebrate Freedom of Information Day and honor President Madison.

Montpelier plantation web site

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