Thursday, April 16, 2009

Your Right to Read

Judith Krug died last Saturday after a long battle with cancer. “Who was Judith Krug?” you might be asking yourself. Krug was a librarian and as the director of the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom for more than four decades, she defended your freedom to read, your right to access information and ideas and opinions, for longer than most of you reading this have even been alive. It was her life’s work to champion the First Amendment. In 1982, in an effort to battle censorship, she established Banned Books Week which is still celebrated every year during the last week of September. According to the ALA’s Web site, Banned Books Week “celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.” So the next time you pick up The Catcher in the Rye, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Gossip Girl series, or any of the other hundreds of books that are challenged each year at libraries across the country, you can thank Judith Krug.

For more information about Banned Books Week, see

Also check out our Almost Banned Booklist.


gothiclolitamaiden said...

That's sad, and banning books is horrible (as well as unconstitutional). People will hate a book they've never read just because it is "obscene" or goes against their beliefs (religious, moral etcetera). I know people who have never read Harry Potter but hate it because it is, I quote, "evil." Books with explicit content usually reflect the real world. If people are so worried about kids reading books with explicitly violent or sexual material, they should just make sure that these books don't get put in the childrens' sections of libraries, and get placed in the adult or teen section. If people are worried about violent/sexual content, publishing companies should create a uniform age rating system. Most manga publishers have rating systems, and of course, movies do. I'm ranting again, aren't I?

Jennifer said...

Ranting is 100% allowed. Consider it a celebration of your First Amendment rights. Interesting idea about a ratings system for books. I guess it could get sticky to figure out who would decide and based on which criteria...and could a ratings system lead to more restriction or less? I was just thinking that the only *problem* with Banned Books Week is that it is one week and of course we should celebrate and promote our freedom to read all year long. But having a whole week to highlight it and call people's attention really is a gift. Slightly unrelated but a great book to ponder while you're thinking about things like freedom and privacy and security and civil unrest is Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow. Highly recommended.