ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee releases statement on death of Judith Krug

Contact: J. Douglas Archer

Chair, ALA IFC



For Immediate Release

April 13, 2009

Chicago- The following is a statement released from American Library Association (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair J. Douglas Archer.

“I just learned of the death of Judith Krug, founder and longtime Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and of the Freedom to Read Foundation. Judith devoted her whole professional life to the advocacy of one of our profession’s core values, intellectual freedom. In fact, I believe, as I am sure she believed that it is THE core value of librarianship. Judith has been its most vigorous, creative, persistent and effective advocate for the past forty years.

“Her accomplishments would fill page after page. I will only mention the most obvious. She founded the Office for Intellectual Freedom and later the Freedom to Read Foundation serving as their first and only director. She initiated what has come to be one of the most successful annual publicity “stunts” ever dreamed up by a non-governmental body, “Banned Books Week.” She developed the first
Intellectual Freedom Manual that loose-leaf notebook that I remember from library school. As current chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee, it has been my honor and privilege to play a small part in the preparation of its eighth edition.

“Judith tirelessly defended intellectual freedom and American libraries in every imaginable forum. She testified effectively before Congress and the courts, was interviewed uncounted times (often at the drop of a hat) by local and national media, debated potential censors from the right, left and middle -- always staying on point and in control. She made herself available to all manner of national, state and local library organizations as speaker and resource person. She had a hand in almost every Supreme Court case of the past four decades that touched upon libraries and the freedom for people to read, view or hear what they would – usually successfully. Along the way she recruited and inspired uncounted new recruits to the cause of intellectual freedom. I am proud to have been one of her recruits, to have had her as a mentor, to have stuck around long enough to have become a colleague, and to be able to call her friend.

“Over the years she has been honored by numerous library groups and by other supporters of the first amendment. This summer at the Freedom to Read Foundation’s 40 Anniversary Gala she would have received the William J. Brennan Award, presented by the Thomas Jefferson Center. I wish she could have been there for the event – but not just for honor. I’m sure that she would have delighted in using the festivities to push her cause one more time.”

The Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) recommends such steps as may be necessary to safeguard the rights of library users, libraries, and librarians, in accordance with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the
Library Bill of Rights as adopted by the ALA Council and works closely with the
Office for Intellectual Freedom and with other units and officers of the Association in matters touching intellectual freedom and censorship.