February 16, 2018

Poppy Johnson | Movers & Shakers 2006

The Art of Community


Poppy Johnson took a job at the Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport, NY, for the same reason she took all the other ‘jobettes’ that supported her real life as an artist: it was close enough so she could walk to work. Instead, she says, she ended up with two professions that ‘enrich and support each other.’ As a librarian, she uses art to energize her community.

Johnson took charge of the library’s programming, filling the meeting room with art, theater, films, and music and ‘[turning it] into an exciting cultural center for the community,’ says library director Lisa Richland.

It helps that in this small, ‘walking distance village,’ Johnson knows everyone, and everyone knows her. Her friend Rebecca Miller (LJ’s Executive Editor) says she’s a ‘sort of ambassador for the library throughout the community,’ with a gift for inventing intriguing programs and ‘involving everybody.’

A stationery store owner who wanted to display his antique typewriter collection asked Johnson to supply a story whose text would be emerging from the machines. She supplied one chapter – and then invited local writers and artists to continue her story with their own chapters in text or images (one for each machine to present). The library displayed the collaborative work, spilling out of the typewriters.

Johnson thinks she’s good at the work because she enjoys putting creative people together in interesting ways. She’s also raised one librarian and another librarian-in-training (her younger daughter is in library school). ‘I must have given the impression that being a librarian was way cool,’ she says. Yep.



Current Position Assistant Director & Reference Librarian, Floyd Memorial Library, Greenport, NY
Degrees MLS, Queens College, CUNY, 1997
Who knew? ran away to Paris to become an artist at 17