ANN ARBOR, Mich. – After 20 years at the helm of Tree Town’s highly regarded library system, Ann Arbor District Library Director Josie Parker is retiring next year.
Parker began her career at AADL in 1999 as Head of the Youth Department, became Acting Director in 2001 and accepted the position of Director in 2002. She will retire on February 28, 2022, almost 22 years after joining the library network.
“It has been a joy and a privilege to serve the Ann Arbor community as a library director for 20 years,” Parker said in a statement.
“I want to recognize the courage of all who have been elected members of the Board of Directors over these years. Without them, nothing was possible. The hundreds of people who have worked with me as a staff for two decades have made this possible in amazing and amazing ways. Last but not least, all of the community members who responded to our efforts challenged us to continue to innovate and improve library services. Thank you all, and I’ll see you at the Library!
For 13 consecutive years during Parker’s tenure, the Ann Arbor District Library was named the Library Journal’s Five Star Library – an honor based on data including article circulation, number of doors and participation in events. The AADL branches were visited by more than 1.2 million people and nearly 120,000 participants in community events in fiscal year 2020, said the AADL.
Under Parker’s supervision, AADL added its collection of unusual tools, created its Fifth Avenue Press public publishing imprint, and created the city-wide Summer Game. Parker also oversaw the construction of three additional branches – the Malletts Creek branch (2004), the Pittsfield branch (2006) and the Traverwood branch (2008) – and the reopening of the Westgate branch in 2016. The branches of Malletts Creek and Traverwood received design awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Because of her leadership within the large library system, Parker was named AIA Michigan Honorary Affiliate Fellow in 2010, a rarity for those who are neither architects nor designers, AADL said.
In 2008, Parker oversaw the transition from the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Print Disabled to the county’s Ann Arbor District Library. She participated in AADL’s 2009 partnership with The Ann Arbor News to digitize and preserve local history in the library archives. The library system then launched the Living Oral History Project in 2013 through a partnership with the Washtenaw County African American Cultural and Historical Museum.
Parker has served on the boards of the Michigan Library Consortium, the Public Library Association, and the Michigan Library Association. The latter of which she was president in 2008.
Originally from Mississippi, she received her Masters of Information Science and Library Science from the University of Michigan and worked at the Chelsea Library and the Ypsilanti District Library before beginning her long career at the University of Michigan. ‘AADL.
Parker will continue as an Assistant Associate Professor of Information in the School of Information at the University of Michigan.
A nationwide search for the next AADL director will begin in the fall.
“The AADL Board of Directors is extremely grateful for Josie’s incredible 22 years of service to our community,” said Jim Leija, Chairman of the AADL Board of Directors. “Josie has been a generous and innovative leader in building the exemplary ALDA we know and love today. She has trained an incredible staff who deliver extraordinary programs, collections, customer service and community engagement year after year. Josie’s warmth and compassion, her steadfast and intelligent leadership, and her unwavering faith in libraries as our greatest shared resource will be sorely missed. It was a great honor to work alongside him. “
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