August 16, 2011


Press Contact:
Jason Carey
Brooklyn Public Library
Phone: 718.230.2209


(Brooklyn, NY) Successful Businessperson and Lawyer, with More than Fourteen Years of Working with Urban Libraries, Charged by Board of Trustees with Building Strategic Partnerships, Redefining BPL's Brand, and Developing a New Service Model for The Digital Era to Continue a Long Tradition of Excellence

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) Board of Trustees today named Linda E. Johnson as President and Chief Executive Officer, charged with transforming the library to serve a digital-age population at a time when the demand for library services is at its highest level in history and traditional library models are being displaced by new technologies. Ms. Johnson is the first person to hold BPL’s newly created top position.

Ms. Johnson has served as Interim Executive Director since July 2010 and helped the library begin a new data-driven approach to re-evaluating and significantly expanding its services through new staffing and program delivery models. She led an aggressive re-assessment of library hours, resulting in more than half of the library’s 60 branches offering six-day service and an average of 43 hours of service per week across the entire system, far more than what was anticipated under the current budget. Ms. Johnson also successfully advocated for support of the library’s heavily used programs in City budget hearings. Additionally, she helped spearhead an ongoing collaborative effort with the City’s two other library systems to understand and implement ways in which all three could align some of their back-end business operations to achieve more operational efficiencies citywide.

Ms. Johnson’s commitment to developing more collaborative forms of information use is reflected both in design and programmatic refinements she made to existing plans for the Leon Levy Information Commons, a $3.25 million hi-tech learning center funded by the Leon Levy Foundation and designed by renowned architect Toshiko Mori to be built in the Central Library. It will be the only resource of its kind in New York City’s three library systems.

Building on increases in recent years, circulation this past year rose to more than 20 million items, the highest level in the history of the library, which is the nation’s fifth largest. In all, 841,000 patrons attended nearly 44,000 free programs that included job search training, GED preparation, immigrant services, and technology and literacy classes. The American Library Association recently ranked BPL as leading all library systems in North America in program attendance.

“Brooklyn Public Library is one of the largest and finest library systems in the world, and Linda Johnson’s appointment as the library's new President and CEO is great news for its future,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. “Our libraries are a critically important resource for young and old alike. In the year since she arrived at Brooklyn Public Library, she has begun developing management, facility and program innovations that greatly improve service and position the library on the cutting-edge of the nation’s library systems. Our Administration looks forward to working with Linda to ensure Brooklyn Public Library's continued vitality and success."

“Linda is a dynamic, resourceful leader and powerful advocate for the importance of libraries here in Brooklyn and nationally,” Board Chair Anthony W. Crowell said. “We are fortunate and excited to have found someone who brings immense skills, sophistication and perspective from successful careers in the private and non-profit sectors to help us reinvent BPL, and reshape the ways in which our patrons, and the rest of the world, will view and use us in the digital era. We are confident Linda will meet the Board’s charge to set the gold standard in developing strategic partnerships and collaborations with corporate leaders, foundations, and our government and non-profit partners, to increase library collections, services and use.”

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the Brooklyn Public Library—to build on the exceptional work we’ve entered into with the 2.5 million residents of this Borough, and to work with a truly extraordinary team of library professionals throughout our 60 branches,” Ms. Johnson said. “We are committed to meeting their information needs with a re-imagined world class library experience unmatched in richness and accessibility. More than ever, the 21st century Brooklyn Public Library will be a safe haven for children discovering the joy of reading, teenagers looking for their first work experience, recent arrivals learning English as they build new lives from Gravesend to Greenpoint, young adults honing computer skills and their resumes as they prepare for job searches, and writers researching for and creating their latest works. Our programs will reinvent a century-old tradition of service while engaging contemporary Brooklyn’s extraordinarily varied mix of readers, learners, and renowned authors and illustrators.”

“I join all Brooklynites in congratulating Linda Johnson, and kudos to board chair Anthony Crowell, my chief of staff and board representative Carlo Scissura, and search committee chair Miriam Katowitz for their thoughtful and deliberative process,” Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said. “Linda has already made a measurable difference in the lives of Brooklynites since she arrived at the Library a year ago, and her innovative ideas, willingness to tackle the tough issues—such as jumping in during the budget crisis—and expanding the Library’s hours show that even though she hails from Philadelphia, aka ‘Brooklyn Southwest,’ she has more than enough Brooklyn attitude to turn another page in the storied history of the Brooklyn Public Library.”

Ms. Johnson joined BPL after leading the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, where she raised more than $40 million in private donations in 18 months for a landmark renovation and expansion project of the flagship Parkway Central Library. At the Free Library, she spearheaded several innovative initiatives, including the H.O.M.E. Page Café, a collaboration with Starbucks that brought food service to Parkway Central Library patrons while providing work opportunities for homeless Philadelphians. Ms. Johnson was a Board Trustee of the Free Library of Philadelphia for 11 years and has been on the Board of Directors of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation for 14years.

Ms. Johnson received a B.A. from Hamilton College, a M.B.A from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree. She also currently serves on the Boards of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Hamilton College, and the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network. Before entering the world of nonprofit executive management, Ms. Johnson worked in the private sector for sixteen years. She began her legal career at Greenberg & Prior in Princeton, New Jersey, which later merged with Sills Cummis & Gross in Newark. She subsequently worked for ten years as president of JCI Data Processing, Inc., an information technology company providing information services to magazine publishers and direct marketers, as well as payroll and human resources processing services.

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries around the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a huge selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information and live reference assistance, are available to customers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website:


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Brooklyn Public Library is an independent New York City library system serving the borough of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest in the United States. Its Central Library, Business Library, and 58 neighborhood libraries offer free information, programs and computer access to people of all ages. You can reach the Library's resources of over 70 reference databases, catalog information and news 24 hours a day at