Egoff, Sheila A. 1918-2005

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EGOFF, Sheila A. 1918-2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born January 20, 1918, in Auburn, ME; died May 22, 2005, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Librarian, educator, and author. Egoff was a widely respected authority on, and advocate of, children's literature, and was often credited as a profound influence in making the study of children's literature a respected scholarly discipline. Although she was born in Maine, she grew up in Ontario, Canada, and attended the University of Toronto, where she received a diploma in library science in 1938. After working as a children's librarian at the Galt Public Library for five years, she joined the Toronto Public Library in 1942, becoming its reference librarian from 1952 to 1957. During these years, she completed a B.A. at the University of Toronto in 1948, and the next year earned another library science diploma at the University of London in England. After working for several years as an editor for the Canadian Library Association, Egoff joined the University of British Columbia faculty in 1961, becoming a professor of librarianship and the first tenured professor in children's literature before retiring in 1983. Egoff spearheaded many initiatives to increase the quality of children's literature in Canada and abroad. While in Toronto, she helped establish the British Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books at the Toronto Public Library. At the University of Toronto, furthermore, she established a master's program in children's literature. In addition, she was the first Canadian to be a judge on the Hans Christian Andersen Awards committee, and, in 1994, was the first professor of children's literature to be named an Officer of the Order of Canada. As a scholar, she insisted that only books of the highest quality were good enough for children, inspiring many authors to excel in the genre, including protégés Sarah Ellis and Kit Pearson. Many of her books are considered standards in the field, including The Republic of Childhood: A Critical Guide to Canadian Children's Literature (1967) and Worlds Within: Children's Fantasy from the Middle Ages to Today (1988). Among Egoff's many honors for her contributions to the study of children's literature are the Ralph R. Shaw Award from the American Library Association in 1982, an Outstanding Public Library Service Award from the Canadian Association of Public Libraries in 1992, the 2004 Anne Devereaux Jordan Award from the Children's Literature Association, and induction into the Waterloo Hall of Fame and Cambridge Hall of Fame. Egoff also received several honorary degrees and had an award from the British Columbia Book Prizes named after her. Among her other publications are Thursday's Child: Trends and Patterns in Contemporary Children's Literature (1981) and Once upon a Time: My Life with Children's Books (2005), which was her last book.



Egoff, Sheila, Once upon a Time: My Life with Children's Books, Orca (Port Townsend, WA), 2005.


Chronicle of Higher Education, July 22, 2005, p. A30.


Canadian Children's Book Centre Web site, (August 10, 2005).