Schenectady County Dedicates the Hon. Karen B. Johnson Schenectady County Public Library
The Schenectady County Legislature was joined today by the Schenectady County Library Board of Trustees and members of the Johnson Family to officially dedicate the Honorable Karen B. Johnson Schenectady County Public Library. The former Central Branch is named for County Legislator Karen B. Johnson who passed away earlier this year.
“Mrs. Johnson dedicated her life to the betterment of our community and had a profound effect on the residents of the city and county that she loved so much,” said Anthony Jasenski, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature. “It is our honor to permanently recognize her commitment and dedication to the mission and programs of the Schenectady County Public Library System by naming the central branch in her name, The Honorable Karen B. Johnson Library.”
Mrs. Johnson came to Schenectady in the late 1960’s with her husband and immersed herself in civic life and volunteerism, joining various boards and organizations whose purpose was to improve the life of Schenectady’s citizens. She was an original organizer of the Kids Art Festival and the summertime weekly Jazz on Jay concert series.
Accompanied by her two energetic young boys, Mrs. Johnson would often visit the public library, stating, “Every mother needs a place to go with their kids to take a break.” She became an active member of the Friends of the Library and served as the group’s President.
“Our mom truly loved the Schenectady County Public Library and some of my brother Eric’s and my first memories are of our trips to read and take out books,” said Kent Johnson, Karen Johnson’s son. “While she wasn’t someone who liked special recognition for the work she did, I do know that she was extremely honored to have the Central Branch named after her and touched by the Legislature’s recognition.”
In 1975, Mrs. Johnson became the first woman elected to the Schenectady City Council and in 1983 became the first woman elected as Mayor of the City of Schenectady. Mrs. Johnson was elected to the Schenectady County Legislature in 2001 and became Vice-Chair of the Legislature in 2011. As Chair of the County Legislature’s Education Committee, Legislator Johnson was instrumental in advocating for the library system and focusing on literacy as one of the Library’s core missions. She played a key role in the expansion of the Main Branch and the Children’s Library and advocated for the construction of the Phyllis Bornt Branch in Hamilton Hill and the new Mont Pleasant Branch on Crane Street.
“Karen was passionate about literacy. She understood the impact that public libraries have on education and a community’s well-being,” said Carmel Patrick, Chair of the Library Board of Trustees. “All of us on the Library Board of Trustees miss her wisdom and support. We are proud to be part of this tribute to a great woman, and great public servant, who gave so much to this library and our community.”
At the dedication a plaque was unveiled honoring Ms. Johnson that will be permanently displayed outside the main entrance of the library facing towards City Hall where she started her elected service.