Eric Moon, British-born American librarian, Died at 93

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Eric Edward Moon was born on March 6, 1923, in Yeovil, England, and died on July 31, 2016.

He was a librarian and editor.

Moon had a shaping influence on American librarianship in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s as editor-in-chief of Library Journal, president of the American Library Association, and chief editor at Scarecrow Press.

When he had completed his grammar (secondary) school certificate from then Taunton School, Eric was hired as a junior library assistant at the prestigious Southampton Public Library in 1939. The ambitious Moon pursued professional qualification by passing the Library Association’s mastery examination.

The Library Association was the United Kingdom’s foremost library organization, and counterpart to the American Library Association (ALA).

Eric took his military service in 1941, joining the Royal Air Force.

After his discharge in 1946 he pursued his professional education as a librarian, at the then Loughborough College.

When he was still at Loughborough, Moon completed the rigorous requirements of advancement to the highest level of honor, FLA, Fellow of the Library Association.

Moon started his professional career running small libraries in Hertfordshire, at Finchley, at Brentford and Chiswick, and then at Kensington, experimenting with novel ideas in library service through this period.

He began to get frustrated with the conservatism of British librarianship, in 1958 he took a job as head of public libraries in Newfoundland, Canada, where he worked for one year.

During 1959, Eric Moon was hired as editor-in-chief of Library Journal, based in New York City.

Under the leadership of the R.R. Bowker company, Library Journal’s publisher, saw in Moon a personality they hoped would revive the struggling magazine and take it in new directions.

The Library Journal’s fame dated back to the late 19th century with Melvil Dewey serving as its founding editor from 1876-1881.

While Moon ran the helm, Library Journal earned consistent profits from advertising revenues and sweeping interest marked by an increase in circulation.

His changes was first defined by Moon’s choice in 1960 to address racial segregation in Southern libraries, where African American librarians were not allowed to work in “white” libraries or participate in the library associations of Southern states; up until Moon, no mainstream publications so much as acknowledged the discrimination in library access.

He soon had come to realization that he needed support from black librarians to continue reporting accurately on activities in the South.

He formed alliances with many, including Elonnie “E.J.” Josey who was an African American librarian at Savannah State College (Savannah, Georgia).

Himself, Josey and countless others, advanced the concern of free access and integration of libraries and professional library associations.

However, in those days the debate over racially segregated libraries divided the profession, and Moon’s activist position placed his Library Journal in the camp of those in the profession who advocated significant change.

In 1968, he quit his post as editor-in-chief of Library Journal, shortly after Bowker was acquired by the Xerox Corporation.

During 1969, Moon 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 (now a subsidiary of Scholastic, Inc.), taking over for founder Ralph Shaw.

In 1987, Eric Moon received ALA’s top award, Honorary Membership.

During 2000, he was bestowed the highest honor by the British library profession, the coveted Honorary Fellowship, awarded by the Library Association.

Eric Moon retired to resided in Sarasota, Florida, with his wife Ilse.

She was also a retired librarian.

Eric Moon passed away at 93 years old.

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