Monica Owen Horne, 58, a chief researcher of Time-Life Books, died Saturday in her sleep at her home in Alexandria. She had been in failing health for some time.

With Time-Life Books since 1960, she had worked on the Life World Library and Photography, Boating and Human Behavior series.

When Time-Life Books moved to, Alexandria form New York City in 1976, Mrs. Horne came here.

Born in Cambridge, Mass, she graduated in 1940 from Smith College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She then worked for the International Student Service and as a researcher for Life majazine.

In 1944, Mrs. Horne volunteered for the Clubmobile organization of the American Red Cross, serving in Ireland, England, France and Germany. Her unit was with 3d Army, which joined up with other Allied forces in France shortly after the D-Day landings in Normandy. The unit continued with the American forces into Germany.

Mrs. Horne returned to Life magazine in 1945, and was assigned to London for six years. She then returned to this country as chief researcher and helped plan the Life magazine series and book, "The World's Great Religions."

She is survived by a sister, Caroline Carlisle, of Gross Ile, Mich., and a brother, Roberts B. Owen, of Washington.