Monday, April 20, 2009

The Death of An American Hero

A couple of years ago, in a talk to a group of librarians, I told the gathered forces that they were heroes. Small, quiet, mousy, bun-on-top heroes. But big, majestic heroes.

The outspoken role model for librarians, Judith Krug, has died and left a marvelous legacy of fighting for your right to read what you want and, later, for your children's access to the Internet. She founded Banned Books Week and fought for the inclusion of a wide variety of books in libraries, including those she found personally offensive.

Her philosophy? “My personal proclivities have nothing to do with how I react as a librarian. Library service in this country should be based on the concept of intellectual freedom, of providing all pertinent information so a reader can make decisions for himself.” That was from a New York Times interview 30 years ago.

Mrs. Krug organized a group of civil liberties groups in 1997 to challenge in the Supreme Court a new law (the Communications Decency Act) that governed access to the Internet by children, and won that round. (That was one of those Republican laws that was anything but what the title of it suggested, much like the Healthy Forest Initiative.)

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