Former American Libraries Editor Edith McCormick Dies at Age 76

November 1, 2010

Edith McCormick, 76, an editor for American Libraries from 1968, when it was still known as the ALA Bulletin, until her retirement in 1999, died October 31 in Chicago, of natural causes after battling failing health for several years. McCormick was a stalwart member of the ALA staff for 34 years, beginning as an assistant for the Knapp School Libraries Project and then serving under five different AL chief editors and enduring through a period in 1974 when the rest of the editorial staff resigned during a dispute between the editor-in-chief and the ALA executive director over editorial independence. She ended her career as AL senior production editor but also had become a seasoned news writer and editor with responsibility for the popular “Image” column that continues to this day as “Public Perception,"  AL’s Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference restaurant guides, and the magazine’s highly regarded architecture showcase every spring.

Edie was corporate memory for American Libraries, and she could be counted on to recall minutiae from issues long past. She was also the Chicago booster of all time. She loved the city and its vibrant music and art scene. She used to joke about her famous last name. “My husband was related to the poor McCormicks,” she once quipped, “but the name never hurt when we were trying to get a table in a good restaurant.”

As a production editor, Edie knew all there was to know about the world of printing, but she also learned a whole new set of computer skills and made the transition to desktop publishing, as we called it in the 1990s. She maintained close professional relations with many Chicago artists, whose work frequently showed up as American Libraries magazine covers. Her husband, James McCormick, was an author and journalist who retired from the Chicago Tribune; he died in 2000.

Art Plotnik, AL editor from 1975 to 1989, said this morning in an e-mail message, “Smart, ever-curious, and with a heart as big as Soldier Field, Edie McCormick was as loyal to ALA as she was to her legions of friends, which meant unending loyalty and generosity.”

A memorial service is being planned for 11 a.m. on November 13 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 621 West Belmont Avenue in Chicago. Condolences may be send to Edie’s dearest friends and caregivers, Carla and Matthew Owens, 507 W. Briar Place, Chicago, IL 60657.