E. J. Josey

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E. J. Josey
President of the American Library Association
In office
Preceded byBrooke E. Sheldon
Succeeded byBeverly P. Lynch
Personal details
BornElonnie Junius Josey
(1924-01-20)January 20, 1924
Norfolk, Virginia, USA
DiedJuly 3, 2009(2009-07-03) (aged 85)
Washington, North Carolina, USA

E. J. Josey (January 20, 1924 – July 3, 2009) was an African-American activist and librarian. Josey was born Elonnie Junius Josey in Norfolk, Virginia to Willie and Frances Bailey Josey.[1] He graduated from Howard University in 1949 and received his master's in History from Columbia University in 1950 and a master's in librarianship from the University at Albany, SUNY in 1953.[2] From 1955 to 1959, he was Director of the Library of Delaware State College, Dover, Delaware, and from 1959–1966, he was Chief Librarian and Associate Professor at Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia. He also served on the staff of the Columbia University Library, Free Library of Philadelphia, the New York Public Library, and prior to his position at Delaware State College, he served as Instructor of Social Sciences and History from 1954–1955 at Savannah State College.

In 1966, Josey joined the New York State Education Department in its Division of Library Development as an Associate in the Bureau of Academic and Research Libraries . In 1968 he was promoted to Chief of the Bureau of Academic and Research Libraries and held that position until 1976 when he was appointed Chief, Bureau of Specialist Library Services, New York State Library. Josey was also Professor Emeritus, Department of Library and Information Science, School of Library and Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh.


Active in the field of human rights, he was a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and served as President of Albany, New York Branch from 1982–86. He also served as President of the Albany Branch of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. Active in community affairs, he also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Albany County Opportunity, Inc., the local anti-poverty agency for four years.

A member of the American Library Association for 48 years, at the 1964 annual conference, he authored the resolution forbidding Association officers and staff from participating in state associations that deny 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. In The Black Librarian in America (1970) Josey recalled the 1964 annual conference:

Much to my chagrin, the Mississippi Library Association was honored there for its National Library Week Activities. I exploded! I was seething with anger, for I remembered that three civil rights workers-Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Micheal Schwerner had been murdered and lay dead and buried somewhere in Mississippi, their bodies not yet discovered. I also remembered that the Mississippi Library Association had withdrawn from ALA rather than give membership to Negro Librarians.

He was first elected to the ALA Council, the policy making body of the Association in 1970 and served until the summer of 2000, a period of 29 years. In 1979, he was elected to a four-year term on the ALA Executive Board. From 1980–82, he served as Chair of the Cultural Minorities Task Force of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. Having served on numerous ALA Committees, he chaired the ALA Committee on Pay Equity, the ALA Committee on Legislation, and the ALA International Relations Committee several times.

Josey was the President of ALA in 1984–85. At his inaugural address in 1984, Josey made this forward-thinking comment still applicable to libraries today: "The information industry has the technology to control information, but its price tag on information distribution and its profit goal create a bias in what information is made available and how it is dispensed. Only the nonprofit organization, the library, dedicated to a total community service goal with trained experts, librarians, running the operation can provide the full scope of information for the total population in a fair and objective manner."

In the spring of 1987, he was elected to a 4-year term on the Board of Directors of the Freedom to Read Foundation and chaired the ALA International Relations Committee from 1987 to 1990. From 1990 to 1994 he served as the Chair of the ALA Legislation Committee. He returned to chair the ALA International Relations Committee for the next two years. In May and June, 1987, Professor Josey lectured in three African countries, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia under the auspices of the United States Information Agency.

Civil Rights activities[edit]

During the early 1960s, he participated in the Civil Rights struggle in Savannah (see The Black Librarian in America, pp. 308–11). He served on the Executive Board of the Savannah Branch of the NAACP as well as the Executive Board of the Albany, NY Branch of the NAACP.

In 1964 he carried the Civil Rights struggle into the American Library Association. In spite of the 1954 United States Supreme Court decision, which encouraged desegregation of libraries and ALA chapters, the ALA was slow in implementing integration of all of its southern chapters until Josey offered his resolution at the 1964 Conference which prevented ALA officers and staff members from attending segregated state chapter meetings. The four remaining segregated chapters that denied membership to African-American librarians at that time were Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi; and they integrated immediately. He is well known for his uncompromising opposition to any form of discrimination whether it is racial, gender, age or sexual orientation.


  • The recipient of many awards, the American Library Association History Round Table presented him with its Journal of Library History Award for research on Edward Christopher Williams, the first African American to graduate from library school in 1900.
  • Under his leadership, the Savannah State University Library received the 1962 and 1964 John Cotton Dana Award.
  • In 1967, he returned to Savannah State University to be honored with the Savannah State University Award.
  • In 1980, he received the American Library Association's most coveted award, the Joseph W. Lippincott Award. The citation of the award read in part:

His fervent advocacy was a major factor in eradicating racial discrimination from many library facilities and services, and from a number of professional associations. As founder of the Black Caucus in ALA, and as its leader throughout the group's formative years, he gave a new strength, unity, purpose and hope to many minority members of our profession.

  • He has received a number of awards from the NAACP. In 1965, he received the NAACP National Office Award for Work with Youth. In 1966, he received the Georgia NAACP Conference Award. In 1983 and in 1986, he was honored bv an award from the Albany Board of the NAACP.
  • On May 1, 1981, he received the first annual Award for Distinguished Service in Librarianship from the School of Library and Information Science, State University of New York at Albany.
  • On November 10, 1982, he received the Library Association of the City University of New York Award for his outstanding contribution to American Librarianship and for his support of Libraries and Librarians of the City University of New York.
  • In 1984, he received the following awards: Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Distinguished Community Leadership, SUNY, Albany; District of Columbia Association of School Librarians Award for Contributions to Librarianship; Award from the New Jersey Black Librarians Network; African Library Award from the Kenya Library Association; Award for Contribution to International Librarianship from the Afro-Caribbean Library Association, England, and in 1985 Honorary Membership in the Virgin Islands Library Association was bestowed upon him.
  • In 1985, for his contribution to the Profession and his leadership as ALA President, a Capital Tribute was presented in Washington, D.C., by Congressman Major Owens and the Congressional Black Caucus Brain Trust; New York State Legislative Resolution; Ohio House of Representatives Resolution; and a U.S. Congressional Resolution.
  • In 1986 he received the New York Library Association Award for significant contributions to special populations in New York State.
  • In 1991, the American Library Association bestowed upon him its ALA Equality Award.
  • In 1996, the American Library Association honored him at its 50th Anniversary of the ALA Washington Office for his contribution to the Legislative Program. The Pennsylvania Library Association honored him with its Distinguished Service Award.
  • In 1998, Forest Press and OCLC bestowed upon him the John Ames Humphrey Award, "in recognition of significant contributions to international librarianship."
  • In 2002, the American Library Association bestowed upon him its highest award, Honorary Membership in the Association.


The Black Caucus of the American Library Association established its first independent scholarship fund in his honor. The E. J. Josey Scholarship Award is given annually to African-American citizen of the United States or Canada pursuing a degree in an ALA accredited Library and Information Science program in the U.S. or Canada. Upon his retirement from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Information Science in 1995, he was named Professor Emeritus and a scholarship was named in his behalf: E. J. Josey Endowment Scholarship for Minorities. This scholarship is awarded annually to an enrolled African-American graduate student in the Department of Library & Information Science who demonstrates potential for academic excellence and leadership in the profession.


The author of more than 400 articles in library, educational, and history journals, he has also authored and edited twelve books in the field of library science which include:

  • The Black Librarian in America, Scarecrow Press, 1970. ISBN 0810803623 (This was the first book published which dealt exclusively with issues related to Black librarians in the United States.)
  • What Black Librarians are Saying, Scarecrow Press, 1972. ISBN 0810805308
  • New Dimensions for Academic Library Service, Scarecrow Press, 1975. ISBN 0810807866
  • A Century of Service: Librarianship in the United States and Canada, co-editor with Sidney Jackson and Elinor Herling, ALA, 1976. ISBN 0838902200
  • Opportunities for Minorities in Librarianship,co-editor with Kenneth Peeples, Jr., Scarecrow Press, 1977. ISBN 0810810220
  • Handbook of Black Librarianship, co-editor with Ann Allen Shockley, Fisk University Library, Libraries Unlimited, 1977. ISBN 0872871797
  • The Information Society: Issues and Answers, Oryx Press, 1978. ISBN 0912700165
  • Libraries in the Political Process, Oryx Press, 1980. ISBN 0912700254
  • Ethnic Collections in Libraries, with Marva L. DeLoach, Neal-Schuman Press, 1983. ISBN 0918212634
  • Libraries, Coalitions and the Public Good, Neal-Schuman Press, 1987. ISBN 1555700179
  • Politics and the Support of Libraries with Dr. Kenneth Shearer, November, 1990. ISBN 155570073X
  • The Black Librarian in America Revisited, Scarecrow Press in January 1994. ISBN 0810828308
  • Handbook of Black Librarianship. 2nd ed. E. J. Josey and Marva L. DeLoach, eds. Lanham, Md., Scarecrow Press, 2000. (See item 6) ISBN 081083720X

He served as Editor of The Bookmark from 1976–86. In the fall of 1986 he relinquished the editorship of The Bookmark and served as its co-editor for the next five years.

Honors and Degrees[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roger M. Valade III, The Essential Black Literature Guide, Visible Ink, in association with the Schomburg Center, 1996; p. 204. ISBN 0787607347
  2. ^ Goedeken 1998, p. 192


  • E. J. Josey : an activist librarian / ed. by Ismail Abdullahi. Metuchen, NJ. [etc.] : Scarecrow Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8108-2584-8
  • Goedeken, Edward A. (1998). "Civil Rights, Libraries, & African-American Librarianship: A Bibliographic Essay". In John Mark Tucker. Untold Stories: Civil Rights, Libraries and Black Librarianship. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois. pp. 188–199. ISBN 0-87845-104-8.

External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Brooke E. Sheldon
President of the American Library Association
Succeeded by
Beverly P. Lynch