Remembering Judith Krug
Judith Krug is possibly not a name you are familiar with but chances are you've read a book that is in a library because of her. She was the director of the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom and the founder of Banned Books Week. Thanks to her work you can still find books like To Kill a Mockingbird and oh, just about every book Judy Blume ever wrote still on library shelves. It is due to her once a year across the United States people are reminded that having access to whatever book you want to read in a library is a privilege that mustn't take for granted. Judith Krug passed away on April 11 and left behind a legacy and some very large shoes for us to fill.
In reading about her, Judith Krug struck me as someone I would have liked to know. Opinionated, compassionate, and I do believe that by times she could be sassy. She didn't shrink away from a fighting, even when it would have been easier and less controversial to do so. She loved libraries and believed in access to books for all. I get the impression that she was a very strong person. Yes, I believe I would have liked her. I wish I wasn't just getting to know her through tributes to her on the web.
The Early Word remembers the sparkle in her eyes.
The repeated themes are “tireless” and “force of nature,” but one thing they don’t mention is the sparkle in her eyes. I remember seeing it we both went to the Association of American Publishers annual meetings, back in the days when they were held in lovely locales. With a naughty smile, she’d make it clear she intended to get full enjoyment out of whatever setting we were in.
Patricia Martin worked with Krug reflected on her passion.
Judith was a study in paradoxes: elegant and gritty; eloquent and saucy; fierce and friendly; vehement and compassionate.
Even in her last months, she was critiquing white papers on information privacy and commenting on strategy. In that way, she died with her boots on--just as she would have wanted it. It was a life well lived, full of purpose and progress toward a greater good.
Liza was Here knew her and will miss her.
I was lucky enough to know Judith personally. She was a sharp, witty, outspoken defender of free expression and especially the freedom of information — that anyone should be able to go into a library and look up/read information on any topic. Regardless of age. Or parental permission. Or social approval.
Young Adult author John Green didn't realized how important her work was when he worked with her.
But I didn't realize how important she was to the history of books in America until I'd written one myself. Krug invented Banned Books Week, helped countless thousands of librarians defend their collections against threats of censorship, and truly devoted her life to the freedom to read.
Even those of us that didn't know her, were touched by her work. The Smart Bitches remind us that reading can be a subversive act.
I try to remind myself when taking some heat for my luuuuuuurve™ of the romance that the act of reading a romance is in itself subversive, particularly on behalf of women who do not have the freedom to read fiction that contains frank and female-positive depictions of sexuality. Ms. Krug’s efforts and dedication remind everyone annually that our freedom to read is a delicate but essential freedom for which we ought to fight.
At Don't Gel Too Soon Cynthia says we all who use libraries owe her a debt.
But she leaves a legacy for the rest of us too, one for which we should be grateful. Anyone who loves to read, who wants to be able to ask a librarian for a special book for a quirky kid, who wants to use the library computer to do research or read off-the-wall news stories, or who just loves to wander in the stacks or online looking for something that never occurred to them, or a special idea or book or website -- we'll miss her too.
Out of the Jungle has a good round up of excerpts from obituaries and tributes to Judith Krug, but I think they summed up much of Krug's legacy with this:
So, in many ways, Judith Krug is the mother of the modern librarian's reputation. Both as a trouble-maker, and as a guardian of the public good. They are two sides of the same coin.
A trouble-maker and guardian of public good...I think that's a nice way to be remembered don't you?