SCHENECTADY -- The Schenectady County Legislature voted Tuesday night to name the central county library on Clinton Street in honor of former Schenectady mayor and current county legislator Karen B. Johnson.
Johnson, who is in her fifth term on the County Legislature, is a long-time advocate for the countywide library system. She was mayor of Schenectady from 1983 to 1991, the first woman to hold the position. She has been battling health issues over the last year.
"My colleagues and I discussed what an appropriate tribute to this great woman and great public servant who has given so much to this community would be," said Anthony Jasenski, chairman of the County Legislature. "As we looked back at her career, we thought dedicating the Central Branch of the Schenectady County Public Library to her very fitting."
Johnson attended the Legislature meeting, the first she had attended in several months.
“I’d just like to thank all of you for sticking with me through what has been a pretty hard time in my life,” she said. “I do have wonderful memories of the library. My children sitting under the table while I was selling sandwiches and praying that they wouldn’t do anything bad.”
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Johnson was elected to the County Legislature in 2001 and has served as chairwoman of the Legislature's Education Committee. That committee oversees the library system, and in that role she put an emphasis on literacy education as a core mission of the library.
Born in Buffalo and raised in Cleveland, Johnson attended Radcliffe College and came to Schenectady in 1967 after her husband was hired by General Electric.
She was also instrumental in pushing for construction of the Phyllis Bornt Library and Literacy Center that opened in 2016 on Hamilton Hill and the new Mont Pleasant branch expected to open this spring.
The main library branch will now be known as the Karen B. Johnson Library.