Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Judith Krug

Word came yesterday of the passing of Judith Krug, the longtime director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom and the Freedom to Read Foundation. What a loss for the library profession.

There will be many obituaries written about Judy over the next few weeks. They'll focus on her unwavering commitment to intellectual freedom, her years of slugging it out with censors, her creation of Banned Books Week, her many honors. But I remember Judy best as my colleague at ALA during the 1990s.

Judy was tough, acerbic, and had more than a touch of the cynic about her, especially when discussing ALA politics. But she leavened this with a sense of humor that could take you totally by surprise. She had a way of looking at the world that was so fresh and so insightful that it was as if you had never seen what she was talking about before.

Arguing with Judy was a trip! She always knew more than I did, but that lack of knowledge didn't stop me from trying. After years of working in public libraries, and dealing with real challenges to books in the various collections I tended, I thought she could be awfully self-righteous and ivory tower about her attitude to the would-be censors. But I came to realize that Judy served as the moral compass for intellectual freedom. Maybe we couldn't always be as absolutist as she was, but we needed her to be the point to which we aspired.

Cancer is the only foe Judy couldn't lick. Please help remember her by joining me in making a donation to the Freedom to Read Foundation in her memory.


Renee Prestegard Lowery said...

Hi, George; thank you for writing this. It really captures Judith as I remember her too. I worked at the ALA Library in the early-mid '90s. The Library was (and perhaps still is) on the same floor as the OIF offices so I saw Judith almost every day. I was always a little in awe of her!

George said...

I think that nearly everyone who knew her was at least a little in awe of her.

Nice to hear from you, Renee!

Patricia Martin said...

It took me a while to catch up with memorial comments about the passing of Judith Krug. So when I read your post, George, it reminded me that your were a spark plug at ALA back in the '90s. Once inserted, it made the other engine parts either feel a want or rev higher. I bet Judy felt both in your presence. Sincere obit for a remarkable fallen colleague.