Monday, April 20, 2009

Founder of Banned Books Week, Judith F. Krug, 1940-2009

Somehow, I missed this news when it originally came out. I certainly didn't recognize the name, and this is definitely a name that more people should recognize.

Judith F. Krug died earlier this month of stomach cancer. According to articles in the New York Times and Wikipedia, she led campaigns by libraries to fight the banning of books, and later fought efforts to limit children's access to the internet. She even fought to guarantee access to books that she herself found offensive. The NYT article talks about The Blue Book of the ultraconservative John Birch Society. She said:

“Library service in this country should be based on the concept of intellectual
freedom, of providing all pertinent information so a reader can make decisions
for himself.”
In 1982, she helped to found Banned Books Week - something I celebrate every year - bringing attention to all sorts of books that the narrow-minded have attempted to ban.

I admit that I was not familiar with Ms. Krug until I read the article in the NYT and I am sorry about that. This is a woman I would have liked to know - I certainly respect her policy positions and I am grateful that there are people like her who are willing to fight for free access to information.


LuAnn said...

This is new to me, too. Thanks for posting it.

Dave said...

Lisa, she does sound remarkable. Over the weekend, Deirdre Donahue, a panelist at Baltimore's CityLit Festival, made a funny comment about supervised reading. While discussing our book culture, she noted that her mother was a non-fiction devotee and thought novels were frivolous. So as a child Deirdre -- of course -- couldn't wait to read novels and get old enough to use the grown-ups' library. Now Deirdre is a book critic for USA Today.
Maybe the lesson is: If we ban books, kids will be more eager to read.