Freedom to Read Foundation announces six Judith Krug Fund grants for Banned Books Week events

For Immediate Release
Tue, 08/02/2011

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CHICAGO - Following 2010's very successful inaugural effort, the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), via its Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund, is pleased to announce grants to six organizations in support of events during Banned Books Week, Sept. 24-Oct.1, 2011.  Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to access information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship.

The Bay County (Fla.) Public Library and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression were named recipients of the largest grants, of $2,500 each. The North Dakota Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee, Bennett College Thomas F. Holgate Library, Skokie (Ill.) Public Library, and Springfield-Greene County (Mo.) Library District each received $1,000 grants.

“The strength of the applications for Judith Krug Fund grants this year was really impressive,” said Kent Oliver, FTRF president.  “The six winners have very unique projects that were chosen based on many criteria, including their creativity, sustainability and commitment to Judith Krug’s vision and legacy.  In many cases, the events will bring attention to past or ongoing incidents of censorship – or successful defenses of free speech. From commemorating the 25th anniversary of a censorship incident that rocked a community in Florida to heightening awareness of a recent series of book bannings in Southwest Missouri, these grants will help shed light on the power of the First Amendment and the importance of defending our right to read.”

In addition to the cash award, the Freedom to Read Foundation is providing Banned Books Week merchandise, sold by the American Library Association Store, to the grant recipients.  Many other Banned Books Week events around the country will be listed at www.bannedbooksweek.org.

Below is a list of grant-winning organizations:

Bay County Public Library, headquartered in Panama City, Fla., for several events, including a Read-Out, Censorship Simulation and a Roundtable Retrospective of a 1986 banned books controversy revolving around Robert Cormier’s "I Am the Cheese."  The controversy eventually led to the banning of 60 books in the Bay County School System.  Frequently banned and challenged author Chris Crutcher will keynote the week’s events.

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, Charlottesville, Va., for “All in a Day’s Work: 5 Events Celebrating Banned Books 2011.” Events will include the creation of a mural, a time-lapse video, chalk drawings, a display of banned books and a movie screening.  All events are scheduled to take place at The Community Chalkboard and Podium: A Monument to the First Amendment (a.k.a. “The Free Speech Wall” in front of Charlottesville’s City Hall). Judith Krug was named the recipient of the Center’s 2009 William J. Brennan Award, the highest honor that the Center bestows.

Springfield-Greene County Library District, Springfield, Mo., for four Banned Books Week Read-Outs. Over the past year, the towns of Republic and Stockton, Mo., have garnered national attention for attempts to ban books such as Sherman Alexie’s "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian," Sarah Ocker’s "Twenty Boy Summer," Kurt Vonnegut’s "Slaughter-House Five" and Laurie Halse Anderson’s "Speak." The library will be holding banned/challenged book discussions, creating public displays and on October 1, will hold Read-Outs at four library branches, including one in Republic.  Authors of the challenged books will be invited to participate remotely.

North Dakota Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee for “Living Banned Books and Read-Out” in conjunction with the NDLA Annual Conference in Minot, N.D.  Participants in “Living Banned Books” will conduct a read-out while wearing t-shirts featuring banned book covers; they will also distribute information about the literature and the importance of defending books against challenges. There will also be a program on banned books during the conference.  Since the application was submitted, Minot underwent a devastating flood, but NDLA reports that the conference is going on as scheduled and that the city is in the process of recovering. 

Thomas F. Holgate Library, Bennett College, Greensboro, N.C. for “Censorship = Slavery” on Sept. 26.  One of two private, all-women’s historically black colleges in the U.S., Bennett College has a strong civil rights history and social justice focus.  Their Read-Out will focus on banned literature by African American authors, and the library will set up displays about banned books in the student dorms, student union and division offices.

Skokie, Ill., Public Library, for a “Read-Out! Road Trip” to Skokie public schools.  The Skokie Public Library’s Bookmobile will transform into the “Banned Bookmobile” during Banned Books Week, visiting three public schools and featuring readings of banned and challenged books and “Banned Books Bingo.” The schools’ librarians will participate in the book selection and events.

“We couldn’t have been more pleased by the success of the 2010 grant process,” said FTRF Executive Director Barbara Jones.  “We believe that this year’s recipients will produce an equally, if not even more impressive, series of events celebrating the freedom to read.”

This is the second year of grants by the Judith Krug Memorial Fund, established after Krug’s death in April 2009.  FTRF compiled a video featuring highlights of last year’s Krug Fund-sponsored events.  Judith Krug was the founding executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, which was established in 1969 as a First Amendment legal defense organization affiliated with the American Library Association (ALA).  She helped found Banned Books Week in 1982 in her capacity as director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom.

This year, for the first time, ALA is sponsoring a “Virtual Read-Out,” wherein readers from around the world will be able to proclaim the virtues of their favorite banned books by posting videos of themselves reading excerpts to a dedicated YouTube channel.  Videos can be posted beginning in early September.  Details will be available in early August on bannedbooksweek.org.  Questions can be sent to info@abffe.org.