Eli Martin Oboler was born September 26, 1915, in Chicago to Clara and Leo Oboler. He married Marcia Lois Wolf in 1938, and they had two children, Leon and Carol. During World War II he worked for the Lend-Lease Expediting Bureau in Washington, D.C., in 1942 - 43, then served in the Army from 1943 - 46. He died of cancer June 15, 1983, in his home at Pocatello, survived by his wife, two children, and two grandchildren.
Education and Professional Experience
He received a B.A from the University of Chicago in 1941, and a B.S. in Library Service from Columbia University in 1942 (this degree is officially equivalent to the current M.L.S.). He attended the University of Chicago's Graduate Library School from 1946 - 49. During those years he also worked as the Head of the Reserve Books Room, Adult Education Librarian, and Lecturer in the Great Books Program, all at the University of Chicago, and also as bibliographical consultant to the Great Books Foundation. In 1949 he came to Pocatello to work as the Head Librarian at Idaho State College, where he stayed until his retirement in 1980.
Oboler's activities in the field of librarianship are legendary.
Idaho Library Association:
Pacific Northwest Library Association:
American Library Association
Editorial Activities and Publications
Please consult a separate list for a selected bibliography of Oboler's works.
Editor, Idaho Librarian (the Idaho Library Association's journal) 1950 - 54; 1957 - 58
Assistant Editor, Library Periodicals Round Table Newsletter, 1953 - 54
Editor, Library Periodicals Round Table Newsletter, 1961 - 62
Editor, Pacific Northwest Library Association Quarterly, 1959 - 67
Editor, Temple Topics (monthly newsletter of Temple Emmanuel), 1969 - 73
Regular columns or frequent contributor to Idaho State Journal, Library Journal, Choice, ALA Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, ISC/ISU Bengal, Intermountain, Intermountain Observer
Robert B. Downs Award for Intellectual Freedom, 1976
The Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award is given by the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Round Table (posthumous honor)
The Library at Idaho State University was named in his honor, 1983
Idaho Librarian of the Year, 1974
Granted Honorary Life Membership, 1980
Made a Charter Member of the ALA's Freedom to Read Foundation
ALA Special Resolution in recognition of his many contributions, 1983
H.W. Wilson Company American Library Association Library Periodical Award, 1964
Emeritus status at ISU Library, 1980
"He will be missed very, very much by the university and the community of Pocatello, and by all persons who are interested in our individual freedoms." -- Myron Coulter, ISU President in 1983
"His passing is a significant loss for ISU, and for the national library community, particularly in the area of intellectual freedom." -- Ron Swanson, ISU Librarian in 1983
"Eli M. Oboler has greatly served Idaho and the nation as a staunch and eloquent supporter of individual human rights and the principles of intellectual freedom." -- Harriet L. Reece, Chairman, Idaho State Library Board, in "Resolution," March 31, 1983
"He saw the truth as man's ultimate and never ending quest. He saw the quest for truth as the ultimate means to free the mind and soul."
-- Freedom to Read Foundation's President William D. North
"Eli was our loyal and untiring conscience, who constantly and impatiently demanded the dismantling of all barriers to freedom of expression and inquiry." --Judith Krug, Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom. XXXII, 5 (September, 1983), p. 131
"In his day, Eli Oboler rudely pricked more than a few forgetful consciences, ruffled the feathers of more than his share of smug politicians and complacent professionals. He could, at times, irritate his friends as much as he did his enemies, but that, after all, was what we loved and needed him for." Ibid., p. 170