Remembering Duane Johnson

Librarians all over Kansas will mourn Duane Johnson’s passing. He served on the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library’s Board of Trustees for eight years, sharing his experience and wisdom as the retired state librarian of Kansas. He was my board chair for two years and I so appreciated having his support and counsel. He was a true gentleman and a great library leader.

“Serving on the Board with Duane was an honor and pleasure,” said Kerry Onstott Storey, chair of the library Board of Trustees. “He was a kind and generous man who served TSCPL well in his capacity as chair and vice chair over his eight years of service. On behalf of the Board of Trustees I offer thanks and appreciation for his dedicated service. He will be sorely missed by friends, family and our entire library community.”

Johnson was well respected and loved by his colleagues across Kansas. They are the best ones to help us remember him. Below are comments from some of them upon Johnson’s retirement in 2004.

“Duane has been a leader who is open to change, but not driven by it,” said Shannon Roy, former Kansas State Library director of local library development. “He has consistently favored education, information sharing, consulting and consensus building, but never coercion.”

Jeff Hixon, Kansas State Library director of statewide services, said Johnson gave him the lesson that “when teaching others, focus on what they can’t learn on their own, and trust them, with guidance, to discover and learn the rest.”

“Duane’s ability to work through difficult legislative sessions–and the fact that he served under five governors–is a testament to his diplomacy and his political expertise,” said Patti Butcher, former Kansas Library Association president.

“Duane still found ways to make things happen when a good idea or an opportunity beckoned,” said Marc Galbraith, former Kansas State Library deputy director. “He found a way to help initiate the financing of statewide databases and he found a way, when it truly looked impossible, to automate the State Library. … Duane believes in people and their ability to learn and change, if given an opportunity. One of Duane’s little lessons in life to me and to others was ‘to find the thing that scared you the most and do it.’ I think he meant it, and if he could help you find that particular challenge and confront it, he would.”

View Johnson’s obituary.

Gina Millsap

Gina Millsap is the chief executive officer of the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. She’s worked in libraries for 40 years and received her Masters of Library Science from the University of Missouri. She currently serves on the Implementation Task Force for Momentum 2022, a community-wide strategic planning process. Gina chairs the project workgroup for Topeka and Shawnee County Community Broadband Planning Task Force and serves on the board of Lyrasis, a nonprofit organization that provides continuing education and services to the library industry.