Watch now! Alumni headline banned books panel

School of Information Sciences alumni pose for a photo after participating in a panel discussion about banned books.
Jordan Wright, Lance Werner, Amy Churchill, Nakenya Lewis-Yarbrough and Allia McCoy

When intellectual freedom is at risk, librarians are often on the front lines of protecting communities’ access to information. School of Information Sciences alumni shared their experiences and what they’re doing to defend our right to read at a panel discussion hosted by the school's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Program Planning Committee on October 4, 2023. 

The panel, Defending Access: Librarian Perspectives on Banned Books, was held both in-person at the Bernath Auditorium in Wayne State University's David Adamany Undergraduate Library and virtually via Zoom. Read about the event's moderator, host and panelists below and click here to watch a recording of the event.


School of Information Sciences alumnus Lance Werner.Lance Werner

Executive Director, Kent District Library

Lance Werner has served as the executive director at the Kent District Library in Kent County, Michigan, for more than a decade. With a background in law and library sciences, he has held a number of roles and leadership positions including past president of the Michigan Library Association (MLA), chair of the MLA Legislative Committee and advisory board member of the Wayne State School of Information Sciences. He is the vice chair of the Library of Michigan Board and president of the Lakeland Library Cooperative Board.

Lance's dedication to the field has earned him numerous accolades. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Information Sciences in 2014 and was honored with Wayne State University Alumni Association's top alumni distinction in 2017. In 2017, he was also the recipient of the Urban Libraries Council Joey Rodger Leadership Award and was named Librarian of the Year by the Michigan Library Association. The following year, in 2018, he earned the title of Librarian of the Year from Library Journal, becoming the first and only Michigan librarian to receive this prestigious recognition.

More recently, Lance received the "GRAND RAPIDS 200" recognition for the third consecutive year, signifying his influence and impact as one of the 200 most powerful and influential individuals in West Michigan for 2021, 2022 and 2023. He won the 2023 ALA Ernest A. DiMattia Jr. Award for Innovation and Services to Community and Profession Award and in October will receive the 2023 ULC Library Advocate of the Year Award.

Event Host:

School of Information Sciences alumna Allia McCoyAllia McCoy (she/her)

Social Sciences (AKA Social Justice) Librarian, Purdy/Kresge Library, Wayne State University

Allia McCoy is a social sciences librarian with subject areas in African American studies, gender, sexuality and women's studies, and urban studies/urban planning. She is a 2020 graduate of the School of Information Sciences where she served as the Diversity Outreach Graduate Student Assistant as a student. Allia has three school-aged children and is passionate about the freedom to read.


School of Information Sciences alumna Amy ChurchillAmy Churchill

Director, Lapeer District Library

Amy Churchill has been a librarian for more than 20 years, working in a variety of roles within library administration and management. She has served as director of the Lapeer District Library since 2020 where she has been fighting book challenge and censorship efforts in the community. Amy is a 2004 graduate of the School of Information Sciences.


School of Information Sciences alumna Nakenya Lewis-Yarbrough.Nakenya Lewis-Yarbrough (she/her)

Youth Services Librarian, Belleville Area District Library

School of Information Sciences alumna Nakenya Lewis-Yarbrough works in a castle of books as a youth services librarian at Belleville Area District Library. She runs the youth comic book club and Teen AniManga club. She has a passion to foster awareness of diverse books written by underrepresented authors which allows youth to see reflections of themselves in literature. Graphic novels and manga are real books; and audio books count as reading. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram @theampeduplibrarian.

School of Information Sciences Alumnus Jordan WrightJordan Wright

Assistant Director, Ferndale Area District Library

Jordan Wright has been the assistant director at Ferndale Area District Library since 2021. He has served in a number or roles at the library, including head of youth services, youth services librarian, youth services assistant and library volunteer. He's also worked in various roles at a handful of other public libraries in suburban Detroit. Jordan has served on the Hazel Park District Library's Board of Directors since 2020. He is a graduate of the Wayne State History Program (2012) and School of Information Sciences (2015).


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