(UPDATE: Joan Johnson was confirmed as City Librarian by the Common Council on Sept. 22, 2020.)
Mayor Tom Barrett announced Tuesday that Milwaukee Public Library Deputy Director Joan R. Johnson will success Paula Kiely as as Milwaukee Public Library Director and City Librarian.
Kiely recently announced that she will retire on Aug. 28.
Johnson has served as deputy since March 2009.
"I am pleased to announce Joan R. Johnson as the new Director and City Librarian for the Milwaukee Public Library," said Barrett. "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."
If confirmed by the Common Council, Johnson will be he 12th director in Milwaukee Public Library’s 142-year history and the fourth woman to hold the post. She would be the first African-American to serve in the role.
Johnson, an MPS graduate, joined MPL in 2006 after working in Seattle as a branch library manager and department director. As deputy here she has overseen all aspects of the library's public services, including branch and Central Library operations, youth services and adult programming.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received her Master of Librarianship from the University of Washington.
Johnson, who also serves on the board of the Westown Association, is known in library circles nationally for her role in launching Library NOW, which gives digital library cards to every student in Milwaukee Public Schools and beyond.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.