ATG Book of the Week: E. J. Josey: Transformational Leader of the Modern Library Profession (Association for Library and Information Science Education)

by | May 19, 2020 | 0 comments

Title: E. J. Josey: Transformational Leader of the Modern Library Profession (Association for Library and Information Science Education)
Author: Dr. Renate L. Chancellor
Hardcover: ISBN: 978-1538121764, $80
Imprint: Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020

This work provides a comprehensive examination of the life and professional career of E.J Josey within the broader historical and political landscape of the civil rights movement. In the era of Jim Crow, Josey rose to prominence in the library profession by challenging the American Library Association (ALA) to live up to its creed of equality for all. This was not easy during the 1950s and 1960s, during segregation. Using interviews with Josey and his contemporaries, as well as several archival sources, library educator Renate Chancellor analyzes Josey’s leadership, particularly within modern day racial currents. During his professional career, spanning over fifty years (1952-2002), Josey worked as a librarian (1953-1966), an administrator of library services (1966-1986), and as a professor of library science (1986-1995). He also served as President of the American Library Association and perhaps his most notable achievement, he successfully drafted a resolution that prevented state library associations from discriminating against African American librarians. This essentially ended segregation in the ALA. Josey’s transformative leadership provides a model to tackle today’s civil rights challenges both in and outside the library profession.

This authoritative work copublished by the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) documents for the historical record a significant period of history that is underexplored in the scholarly literature. The target audience for this book are researchers, historians, LIS educators and students interested in understanding the complex struggle for civil and human rights in professional organizations.


This is an inspiring and admirable work worthy of the remarkable, transformational library leader E. J. Josey. Chancellor candidly weaves in the systemic racism of America’s story that created a librarian who through activism, advocacy, and empathy made a librarianship ethos of social justice ideals to benefit all. — Lorna Peterson, PhD, Emerita Associate Professor, University at Buffalo

Chancellor’s seminal research is an engaging treatise on E.J. Josey’s transformational leadership in Library and Information Science (LIS) and beyond. She champions Josey’s civil rights and social justice activism, scholarship and mentorship, especially to African Americans and marginalized groups. Chancellor’s argument for his leadership as a blueprint for LIS is viable. — Marva L. DeLoach, PhD; retired Professor and Librarian; former Adjunct Professor at SJSU/SIS; co-editor with E.J. Josey, Handbook of Black Librarianship, 2nd ed.

Dr. Chancellor uses primary sources to recount and interpret the life and times of one of the most important librarians and educators of the twentieth century. Her biography of E.J. Josey helps us understand his role as a social justice advocate whose leadership transformed libraries and library science education. — Cheryl Knott, Professor, School of Information, University of Arizona

As one of the many people of color recruited to the profession and to the University of Pittsburgh twice by Dr. Elonnie Junius (E.J.) Josey, this book speaks to my heart. The foreword is beautifully written by his daughter, Amina Josey, and provides a view of Josey’s life from his inner circle. Chancellor has captured the essence of Dr. Josey’s legacy while revealing things most of us never knew: he played the organ, served in the segregated army, and majored in music at Howard University. Framed by his evolution as a transformational leader, and organized chronologically, Chancellor follows Josey’s trajectory from his humble beginnings in Portsmouth, VA, throughout his career as a librarian, mentor, leader, scholar, and activist. It was from those humble beginnings in the segregated South, which made Josey the leader, mentor and librarian we know and fondly remember. It was indeed Josey’s leadership that “ultimately led to the integration of the ALA.” Without his contributions and efforts, me, and so many others, would not be the librarians, mentors, and leaders we are today. E. J. Josey: Transformational Leader of the Modern Library Profession cements Josey’s legacy to the profession and the broader higher education community. — Teresa Neely, Professor of Librarianship, Assessment Librarian, College of the University Libraries & Learning Sciences, University of New Mexico

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