Libraries throughout the U.S. are invited to apply for this year’s round of Banned Books Week Celebration Grants, administered by the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF). Banned Books Week will take place from September 26 through October 2, and 2021’s theme is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” Awards will be issued in the amounts of $1,000 and $2,500 and are funded by the Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund.
Eligible Organizations and Projects
The grants are intended to fund virtual or in-person projects related to Banned Books Week, such as public programs, discussions, and displays. Libraries, educational institutions, and community nonprofits are eligible to apply, and applications are due June 4, 2021. The brief application is available online, and winners will be announced in mid-June. FTRF’s press release details the reporting requirements for successful applicants. Winners are also encouraged to share coverage of their initiatives on social media.
FTRF has provided grants for Banned Books Week activities since 2010. A full list of previous winners, which include libraries, schools, and various nonprofits, is maintained on the foundation’s website. Past projects funded include events with high-profile intellectual freedom advocates, exhibitions, facilitated discussions, and many other initiatives to spread awareness of the dangers of censorship and the importance of the First Amendment. Although the theme of Banned Books Week changes annually, its core values remain the same, and the diverse winners also show a commitment to intellectual freedom.
In Memory of Judith F. Krug
The grant program’s funding source, the Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund, is named after a founder of Banned Books Week. Krug was a well known champion for intellectual freedom, having served as the first director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom upon its formation in 1967. Two years later, she was named executive director of FTRF and remained active in the Foundation’s work for decades until her death in 2009. Banned Books Week Celebration Grants help continue her legacy of librarians fighting censorship and advocating for the right to read for all.
Gretchen Kaser Corsillo (she/her) is the Director of Rutherford (NJ) Public Library and has worked in public libraries in a variety of capacities since 2003. In 2013, she received her Master’s of Library & Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. She also holds a B.A. in Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Political Science from Ramapo College. Prior to working as a professional librarian, Gretchen worked in the marketing and legal fields; the latter, combined with her interest in writing, has made her a strong advocate for intellectual freedom.