Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Johnson Will Lead City’s Public Library System

Joan Johnson will be first Black director in the library's 142-year history.

By - Jul 28th, 2020 12:45 pm
Joan Johnson. Photo by Dmitry Kaplan.

Joan Johnson. Photo by Dmitry Kaplan.

Mayor Tom Barrett has appointed a familiar face to lead the Milwaukee Public Library system.

Joan Johnson, the system’s deputy director since 2009, will step in to replace to Paula Kiely who is retiring after 25 years with the system and 14 as its director.

“I am pleased to announce Joan R. Johnson as the new Director and City Librarian for the Milwaukee Public Library,” said Barrett in a statement. “In addition to her wealth of knowledge, Joan cares deeply about the residents of this city and providing them with equitable access to the library’s many resources. I have no doubt that under her leadership the library will continue to transform itself through innovative programming and collaborative solutions to further inspire Milwaukeeans to read, learn and connect.”

Johnson will be the first African American and fourth woman to hold the role.

A graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools, Johnson earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin and earned a master of librarianship degree from the University of Washington She previously worked for the Seattle Public Library before joining MPL in 2006.

Her appointment is subject to Common Council approval, a body that is familiar with Johnson as a result of her regular appearances representing the library. Multiple council members serve on the library board. The body voted unanimously Tuesday morning to honor Kiely on her retirement.

Johnson, Kiely and Barrett are all expected to appear Wednesday as the city celebrates the delayed-opening of the Good Hope Library.

The city has 14 libraries, including the large Central Library and the automated library at Westlawn.

MPL, a city department, has a 2020 operating budget of $23.6 million and approximately 300 employees. The department had over 1.6 million visitors in 2019 and has a circulation of approximately 3.2 million items, including 1.9 million “traditional” materials including books, CDs and DVDs. Patrons logged onto library computers 336,237 times in 2019 according to the system’s annual report.

Johnson’s appointment is likely to be joined by others. Barrett also needs to find new leaders for the Fire & Police Commission and Department of Employee Relations. He also needs to appoint a new City Engineer.


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Categories: City Hall

One thought on “City Hall: Johnson Will Lead City’s Public Library System”

  1. LLFOHEY says:

    Excellent choice! This valuable asset is in good hands.

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