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Remembering David Cohen, 1909-2015

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Thursday, February 12, 2015

The library world lost a true giant last week with the passing of David Cohen on Thursday, February 5. David received the FTRF Roll of Honor Award in 2005, just one of his many, many accolades honoring a career that spanned eight decades.

According to David's friend, Rocco Staino, David's family has requested that donations in his name be made to the Freedom to Read Foundation. We are deeply honored by this. If you would like to make such a donation, please do so here.  

We have created a special page to honor David here.  It includes photos, a list of honors and awards, and the text of his Roll of Honor citation.  If you know of anything we can add, please let us know in the comments of this post or by contacting Jonathan Kelley at Also, we'd love to read your memories of David in the comments.

From FTRF Executive Director Barbara Jones:
In the 1970s, fresh out of library school, I wanted to get involved with ALA. Intellectual freedom was my choice for focus. Then at NYU, I called David Cohen to ask how to get involved in IFRT. Within a couple of days, I was on the ballot to run for Secretary and the rest is history. David was generous like that.


From FTRF Program Officer Jonathan Kelley:

My most vivid memory of David Cohen was sitting backstage with him in 2005 as he waited to receive his Roll of Honor Award. Also waiting with us was then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama. Senator Obama went out of his way to congratulate David on his award, and they chatted for a bit. Later, during his keynote address, the senator prefaced his remarks by commenting on how impressed he was by the 96-year-old.‚Äč

I will also always remember his powerful dedication to the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund, including spearheading the Intellectual Freedom Round Table's ongoing committee to support the Merritt Fund.

From the OIF/FTRF 30th Anniversary Roll of Honor Book (1999):

To many of his peers and colleagues, David is known as "Mr. Intellectual Freedom." His commitment to the principles have governed his professional career, as well as his personal life. He is one of the founders of the Long Island Coalition Against Censorship, and through this organization and many other means, he has worked unstintingly to make his beliefs a reality.




Tags:  David Cohen  EMIERT  IFRT  in memoriam  NYLA  Roll of Honor 

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