ALA mourns loss of Past President Dr. E.J. Josey

Contact: Macey Morales
ALA PIO Media Relations

For Immediate Release
July 6, 2009

CHICAGO – Dr. E.J. Josey, professor emeritus, University of Pittsburgh, and past American Library Association (ALA) president (1984-85) passed away July 3 in Washington, N.C.

In 1964 Dr. Josey authored an ALA resolution forbidding ALA officers and staff from participating in state associations that denied membership to black librarians. This action led to the integration of the library association of several Southern states, and he became the first black librarian to be accepted as a member of the Georgia Library Association.

The following is a statement from American Library Association (ALA) President Jim Rettig on the passing of library champion and human rights activist Dr. E.J. Josey. 

“Few have brought about more significant change in librarianship than the late Dr. E. J. Josey.  Through his leadership he opened doors to segregated library associations and acted as librarianship’s conscience, encouraging the field to live up to and operate by fundamental American principles of justice and equity. His commitment to these principles, combined with his tenacity and advocacy, brought much needed diversity to the library workforce.

“Dr. Josey’s contributions to the field of librarianship are invaluable. He energized a generation and more of librarians while serving as a benefactor, mentor and role model to students of all backgrounds.

“Dr. Josey was a leading force in eliminating racial bias from library systems and professional organizations. His legacy lives on in the many students and colleagues he influenced throughout his career as well as through the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, which provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians; The E.J. Josey Scholarship Award, given annually to African Americans pursuing a degree in an ALA accredited Library and Information Science program; and ALA’s Pay Equity Commission, which ensured equal compensation for male and female librarians.”

Dr. E. J. Josey was professor emeritus, Department of Library and Information Science, School of Library and Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, and was first elected to the ALA Council, the policy making body of the Association in 1970, serving until the summer of 2000, a period of 29 years, and was a member of ALA for more than 48 years. Dr. Josey also was the founder of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, chaired the ALA International Relations Committee,  wrote 12 books and produced more than 400 articles that focused on library diversity and equality of access issues.

A foundation has been set up to honor Dr. Josey's life and work. Contributions can be sent to: The E.J. Josey Foundation for Justice and Peace, 526 West Second Street, Washington, North Carolina 27889.