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Judy Fingeret Krug, Founder of Banned Books Week

Born and raised in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, Judith “Judy” Fingeret Krug devoted her career as a librarian and advocate to the defense of intellectual freedom and the freedom to read without censorship.

Judy graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and earned her Master’s in Library Sciences from the University of Chicago. A fierce advocate for the First Amendment and free expression of ideas, Judy was named director of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom upon its founding in 1967. Over the following 40 years, this Pittsburgh native worked tirelessly to protect the public’s rights to seek information or express themselves without barriers. In 1969, she became Executive Director for the Freedom to Read Foundation, which continues to promote and defend the rights protected by the First Amendment, as well as the rights of libraries to provide and include in their collections any and all works within legal standing.

In 1982, Krug founded Banned Books Week — a time for librarians, teachers, and readers of all ages to celebrate the freedom to read.

Judy’s legacy continues to inspire readers and librarians in the face of challenging times. Last year, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries. This nearly doubled the 729 book challenges reported in 2021. Censors targeted a record 2,571 unique titles in 2022, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted for censorship in 2021.

From a child discovering the joy of reading among the shelves of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, to a tireless advocate for readers’ rights, Judy Krug will always be known as a “hero to librarians.” We are honored to recognize her life’s work and to continue to protect the Freedom to Read.

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