William Robert Eshelman (1921–2004) was an American pacifist, editor, and librarian. He was active in causes such as preventing censorship, ending racial segregation and stopping the Vietnam war, while gaining distinction in his professional career.
As a conscientious objector during World War II, he was conscripted into the Civilian Public Service at Camp 56 (Camp Angel) in Oregon. He co-founded the Untide Press in 1943 with poet William Everson, architect and printer Kemper Nomland and actor Kermit Sheets. The press had the aim of bringing poetry to the public in an inexpensive but attractive format. The name was a challenge to the official camp magazine the Tide Press.
Eshelman was on the faculty of Los Angeles State College from 1951 to 1965, and was college librarian from 1959 to 1965. He demonstrated the belief of his mentor, Lawrence Clark Powell, that librarians would not gain faculty status until they achieved "intellectual camaraderie with the faculty." The faculty of L.A. State College elected him to the Academic Senate, the first librarian to serve on that body. While he was editor of the California Librarian, the magazine earned the H. W. Wilson Library Periodical Award for the best state or regional journal.
From 1965 to 1968 Eshelman was librarian and professor of bibliography at Bucknell University. He joined with other librarians to become active in major protests against the Vietnam War. Eshelman was editor of Wilson Library Bulletin from 1968 through 1978, adding to the distinction of the magazine and its role as one of the two leading independent library publications in America. In California he chaired the Librarian Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee which opposed censorship efforts of lawmakers, initiated the Fiske study of self-censorship in school libraries, and joined the national journals in their efforts to support the desegregation of public libraries in the South.
He was appointed president of Scarecrow Press from 1979 until his retirement in 1985. Eshelman served on the editorial board of Choice Magazine, published by the American Library Association (ALA), on the ALA Council and on the ALA Committee on Accreditation. William Eshelman died on 9 August 2004 at his home in Portland, Oregon, aged 82.
- William Everson, Lawrence Clark Powell, William R. Eshelman (1994). William R. Eshelman (ed.). Take hold upon the future: letters on writers and writing, 1938-1946. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-2878-2.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- William R. Eshelman (1997). No silence!: a library life. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3241-0.
- John N. Berry III (2004-09-15). "Editorial: A Good Guy Is Gone". Library Journal.
- "Scope and Content". Online Archive of California. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- "Ex-WLB Editor Eshelman Dies". Library Journal. 2004-09-15. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- "Memorial Tribute to William R. Eshelman". American Library Association. January 19, 2005. Retrieved 2010-02-24.[dead link]
- "No Silence!: A Library Life". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2010-02-26.