Johnson Will Lead City’s Public Library System
Joan Johnson will be first Black director in the library's 142-year history.
“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.
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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