The Passing of Judith Krug

April 13, 2009

Judith Krug, center, receiving an honory doctor of humane leters degree during the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's 134th commencement May 14, 2005.   ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels notified the staff this morning of very sad news to start the week: Judith Krug, executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation and director of ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom for more than 40 years, passed away on Saturday morning. In cooperation with OIF and ALA's Public Information Office, American Libraries will be developing a retrospective on Judy's career for the May print issue, as well as a video memorial for AL Focus. Until then, I'll share the obituary that Keith sent: Judith Fingeret Krug, 69 passed away April 11, 2009 at Evanston Hospital. Advisor, author and public servant, she was a remarkable leader in the struggle to educate the public concerning the right to the free expression of ideas. Judy was an inspiration to all who knew her. She was the Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation and Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association for over forty years. She worked tirelessly to guarantee the rights of individuals to express ideas and read the ideas of others without governmental interference. Through her unwavering support of writers, teachers, librarians, and above all, students, she has advised countless numbers of librarians and trustees in dealing with challenges to library material. She has been involved in multiple First Amendment cases that have gone all the way to the United States Supreme Court. In addition, she was the founder of Banned Books Week, an annual week-long event that celebrates the freedom to choose and the freedom to express one’s opinion. During a time in our nation’s history when an individual’s rights to access information are constantly under attack, she worked to ensure the public’s right to know through traditional means, as well as through the Internet. Her legacy is a lifetime of passionate commitment, advocacy, and affirmative actions to protect the Constitutional rights of citizens granted under the First Amendment. Recipient of countless awards and offices including: the Joseph P. Lippincott Award, the Irita Van Doren Award, the Harry Kalven Freedom of Expression Award, and most recently the William J. Brennen, Jr. award, from the Thomas Jefferson Center for Free Expression.  In July, she will be honored by the Freedom to Read Foundation for her years of vision and leadership.  In addition, she served as a senator and Vice President of the Phi Beta Kappa society. Born in Pittsburgh, Judith graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and received a Masters degree from the University of Chicago and a PhD from the University of Illinois. She is survived by her husband Herbert and her loving children Steven (Denise) of Northbrook, and Michelle (David) Litchman of Glencoe and five adoring grandchildren: Jessica, Sydney, Hannah, Rachel and Jason.  Additionally, she is survived by her brothers, Jay (Ilene) Fingeret and Dr. Arnold (Denise) Fingeret of Pittsburgh PA, and her sister and brother-in-law, Shirley and Dr. Howard Katzman of Miami, FL. She was preceded in death by her sister Susan (Steve) Pavsner of Bethesda MD. Services will be held at Beth Emet Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St., Evanston IL, Tuesday April 14 at 10:00 a.m, followed by internment at Shalom Memorial Park.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Freedom to Read Foundation, 50 East Huron, Chicago Illinois 60611, or   Edited: ALA's official press release, with some additional information, is now posted.