Wanda Kay Brown

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Wanda Kay Brown
President of the American Library Association
Assuming office
SucceedingLoida Garcia-Febo
Personal details

Wanda Kay Brown is an American librarian, and the President of the American Library Association for the 2019-2020 term.[1] She is the director of the C. G. O’Kelly Library at Winston-Salem State University and a leader in state and national library associations.[2]

Background and education[edit]

Brown, a native North Carolinian, received a Bachelor of Arts in English at Winston-Salem State University in May of 1977 and a Master's degree in Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1983.[2][3] Her personal story as a chosen child and an example of a rise from adversity aired on WXII-12-Winston-Salem.[4]


Brown began working at Wake Forest University in 1977 as a library technician, eventually working her way up to associate director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library in 2007.[5][6] Since 2016, she has served as Director of Library Services for the C. G. O’Kelly Library at Winston-Salem State University.[7]

Brown has been a member of the American Library Association for 30 years. Brown has held multiple positions within the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), including time spent as treasurer (1992–1996, 2016–2018), executive board member (2001–2003, 2014–2016), and president (2006–2008).[1] From 2011 to 2013 she was the president of the North Carolina Library Association, with which she has also held the positions of treasurer (1991–1998) and chair of the finance committee (2005–2009).[1]

ALA Presidency[edit]


In early 2018, Brown received endorsement from BCALA, supported by a petition signed by 34 members in support of her running.[8] Brown was elected President of the American Library Association for 2019-2020.[2][1] Brown received 6,066 votes; her opponent, Peter Hepburn, head librarian at the College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita, CA, received 4,066 Votes. The 11,037 ballots cast, representing approximately 22.1 percent of ALA membership, were up from the previous year's total of 9,748.[9] Brown is the first librarian from a historically black college or university to serve as ALA president.[7]


On winning the election, Brown said in a statement. "I thank you for the opportunity to lead. I look forward to working closely with the membership in advocating for libraries, fostering diversity and inclusion, and demonstrating our profession’s value."

"My vision for libraries is that we remain at the heart of the communities we serve, connecting people with ideas, resources, and support. We are an essential link to developing and sustaining informed and well educated communities,” Brown told Library Journal. "We are social hubs where great minds come together. We are constantly evolving as our users and their needs change. I embrace the challenge of defining our next phase."[10]

As President of the American Library Association Brown writes a column for its magazine, American Libraries, and has addressed the role of librarians promoting Association values [11], the redesign of libraries.[12] and how libraries can help immigrants and refugees thrive with inclusive programs and services.[13]

In 2020 Brown wrote "Forward Together: Charting a Path to a More Vibrant and Effective Organization," and presented recommendations to enable sustainable, long-term change for the American Library Association.[14]

On January 15, 2020 Wanda Kay Brown announced the appointment of Tracie D. Hall as Executive Director of the American Library Association. [15]

Institute of Museum and Library Services[edit]

"This is Your Win!" exclaimed Wanda Kay Brown after the announcement that federal library funding increased in the FY 2020 Budget. This included the largest increase for the Library Services and Technology Act in 12 years. [16]

Upon learning of the Senate confirmation of Crosby Kemper III as Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services on January 9, 2020 Brown stated, "“Confirming a new IMLS director so quickly shows the high regard in which elected leaders hold libraries as places of opportunity for all Americans. Mr. Kemper is the right leader right now to enable experts at IMLS to administer programs that benefit every single community, from its Grants to States to its specialized grants promoting workforce development to research collaborations between universities and schools to accessible content for people with print disabilities."[17]


Under Brown's leadership the American Library Association launched the campaign #eBooksForAll denouncing Macmillan Publishers’ planned embargo on eBook sales to libraries. The background on Macmillan's decision has been explained by Jessamyn West in a CNN opinion essay, "Libraries are fighting to preserve your right to borrow e-books".[18]

International Impact[edit]

In November 2019 Wanda Kay Brown addressed the Sharjah Library Association during the Sharjah International Book Fair.[19] Her keynote speech was titled, “Taking the Lead: Indispensable Librarians.”[20]


Brown has been honored with the BCALA 2015 DEMCO/ALA Black Caucus Award for Excellence, the 2013 BCALA Leadership Award, and the 2012 BCALA Distinguished Service Award.[1]

University of North Carolina at Greensboro awarded Brown the 2009 UNCG Kovacs Award for Outstanding Alumni Achievement and a 2013 UNCG School of Education Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Brown Wins 2019–2020 ALA Presidency". American Libraries Magazine. 2019-03-22. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  2. ^ a b c "Wanda Brown". Winston-Salem State University. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  3. ^ "Winston-Salem State University appoints Wanda K. Brown to Director of Library Service". Library Development. 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  4. ^ Place to Call Home: Triad woman forced to hide as child because she was product of interracial relationship WXII-12,Aug 15, 2019
  5. ^ "Wanda Brown appointed Associate Director". ZSR Library. 2007-10-28. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  6. ^ "A Salute to Wanda Brown". ZSR Library. 2016-04-13. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  7. ^ a b "Winston-Salem State University's Wanda Brown to Lead the American Library Association". Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. 30 April 2018.
  8. ^ "BCALA Endorses Wanda Brown for ALA President". BCALA. 2018-02-21. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  9. ^ a b Peet, Lisa (May 1, 2018). "Wanda Brown Wins ALA Presidency". Library Journal. 143 (8): 20–20. ISSN 0363-0277.
  10. ^ Peet, Lisa. "Meet the Candidates: ALA President 2018–19". The Library Journal. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  11. ^ Brown, Wanda Kay. 2019. “Find Your Place within ALA: Together Let’s Promote the Value of Libraries and the Association.” American Libraries 50 (7/8): 3.
  12. ^ Brown, Wanda Kay. 2019. “Inclusive by Design: Reevaluating Physical and Virtual Spaces to Address Inequity.” American Libraries 50 (9/10): 4.
  13. ^ " Brown, Wanda Kay. 2019. Welcoming New Americans. American Libraries. Nov.1. 2019.
  14. ^ Brown, Wanda Kay. 2020. "Forward Together: Charting a Path to a More Vibrant and Effective Organization" American Libraries. Jan/February, 2020.
  15. ^ "ALA Appoints Tracie D. Hall As Executive Director" American Libraries January 15, 2020
  16. ^ Kathi Kromer,"IMLS receives $10 million Increase in FY 2020." American Libraries, December 20, 2020.
  17. ^ U.S. Senate Confirms ALA Member Crosby Kemper III as New IMLS Director. ALA News. January 9, 2020.
  18. ^ Jessamyn West, Libraries are fighting to preserve your right to borrow e-books, CNN Opinion August 2, 2019.
  19. ^ Porter Anderson. Sharjah International Book Fair Draws a Record-Breaking 2.52 Million Visitors Publishing Perspectives. November 11, 2019.
  20. ^ Michael Dowling.Sharjah 2019: The ALA Heads to the U.A.E. Publishers Weekly. October 25, 2019.