The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Judith Krug, 69; Friend of Huck, Montag

April 17, 2009
Washington, DC

If you value your right to check out a library copy of Fahrenheit 451, or Huck Finn, or Bless Me, Ultima, you owe the late Judith Krug big-time. Krug, who died Saturday, led the fight against censorship for the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom for over forty years. While there, she succeeded in consecrating the last week of every September as Banned Books Week.

I never met her, but Krug's many battles over our right to read what we please were legend. The best tribute I've seen so far came in her hometown paper, the Chicago Tribune. At the height of the controversy over Madonna's book "Sex," they once quoted Krug as saying, "The book is sleazy trash, but it should be in every medium-sized library in the United States."

Not just trash, mind you, but "sleazy trash." Krug was a First-Amendment absolutist with taste. The neverending struggle for freedom of expression always needs new champions. To replace Judith Krug, it will need a country full of them.