Obituary: Eric Moon, Former ALA President and LJ Editor-in-Chief

Eric Edward Moon, who served as editor-in-chief of Library Journal for nine years (1959-1968) died on July 31 in Sarasota, FL at the age of 93. He was hugely influential in American librarianship for four decades, at LJ, as President of the American Library Association (ALA), and as chief editor at Scarecrow Press.
Eric Moon Kister Biography Book CoverEric Edward Moon, who served as editor-in-chief of Library Journal for nine years (1959-1968) died on July 31 in Sarasota, FL at the age of 93. He was hugely influential in American librarianship for four decades, at LJ, as President of the American Library Association (ALA), and as chief editor at Scarecrow Press. Instrumental in the modernization of the library profession, Moon succeeded in focusing the field’s growing activism on the growing social responsibility movement, racial equality in library service, and the field’s traditional battles against censorship and for intellectual freedom.

British background

Born on March 6, 1923, in Yeovil, England, Moon grew up in Southampton, England. He was hired as a junior library assistant at the Southampton Public Library in 1939 and quickly earned professional qualification, passing the Library Association (British) mastery examination. In 1941 Moon joined the Royal Air Force, and served five years during WW II. Following his discharge he studied librarianship at the Loughborough College to the highest level, Fellow of the Library Association. He then ran libraries in Hertfordshire, Finchley, Brentford, Chiswick, and Kensington. He experimented with innovations in library service, then, to escape the conservatism of British librarianship, in 1958 he took the post of head of public libraries in Newfoundland, Canada, where he lasted only one year.

An engaged editor

In 1959 Moon was hired as editor-in-chief of Library Journal. The management of the R.R. Bowker Company, LJ's publisher, especially president Daniel Melcher, hoped Moon would restore the magazine and take it in new directions. In his nine years at LJ. Moon engaged Library Journal in controversial issues. Under Moon, LJ  became a liberal, activist participant in the professional debates that occupied the field. Moon's first foray into activism came in 1960. Before this, African American librarians couldn’t work in many white-only libraries or participate in the library associations of Southern states. Until Moon, the main professional publications didn’t even acknowledge the discrimination. Moon joined with black librarians to report accurately on activities in the South. With Elonnie "E.J." Josey, an African American librarian at Savannah State College (Georgia), Moon and countless others advanced the concern of free access and integration of libraries and professional library associations. Moon’s editorials and features in LJ protested the Vietnam War as well. The activism made LJ popular with U.S. librarians and; the magazine became sound financially. In 1965 Moon was appointed to the Bowker Board of Directors. In that year he also became a U.S. citizen. Moon quit his post at LJ in 1968 and was hired as the chief editor of Scarecrow Press, a small publisher with ties to the library community that had recently been purchased by the Grolier Educational Corporation. Moon increased the number of titles published per year, introduced higher standards for editorial accuracy, and broadened the scope of the press. In 1971 he became president of Scarecrow Press, from which he retired in 1978.

Association activist

Moon was a vocal critic of and activist in the American Library Association (ALA). In 1965, he was elected to the ALA Council. In 1976, he was elected Vice-President/President-Elect of the ALA as a petition candidate. He continued to influence ALA politics as a member of its governing Council and various committees into the mid-1990s. In 1987, Moon received ALA's highest award, Honorary Membership. In 2000 he won the highest honor of the British library profession, Honorary Fellowship, awarded by the Library Association. At his death Moon lived in Sarasota, FL, with his wife Ilse, a retired librarian. In 2002 Kenneth F. Kister’s readable and definitive biography, Eric Moon: the Life and Library Times was published by McFarland & Company, Inc.

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