Madison Public Library Director Greg Mickells will retire in early February after 11 years of leadership, the library announced recently. 

Mickells led the library through the expansion and renovation of Central, Meadowridge, and Pinney libraries, and the challenge of navigating a public health emergency to safely ensure library services during the pandemic, noted Library Board President Alyssa Kenney in a city press release. 

During Mickells’ tenure, his work took him to three continents representing the library in China, The Gambia, and Denmark. 

In 2016, he represented the library at the White House, where it received a National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Other awards during his leadership included an Urban Libraries Council Top Innovator award for the library and a Wisconsin Innovation Award for The Bubbler. 

Closer to home, the library took over the Wisconsin Book Festival in 2013 and launched the Dream Bus in 2019 in partnership with Dane County Library Service, with both efforts financially supported by the foundation. The library’s commitment to racial equity and social justice has resulted in dozens of community-based partnerships. 

“It is very difficult to think about what Madison Public Library would be today without Greg’s influence,” said Madison Public Library Foundation Executive Director Conor Moran. “Throughout his tenure, he consistently sought to connect the library with the community by offering unique programs and by responding directly to community needs with services. He has truly left his mark on our library system, and we are all grateful.”

The Library Board is responsible for hiring a new library director, though it is a City of Madison position, which will require mayor and Common Council approval. The board has formed a working group to begin the hiring process and expects to have a hiring committee in place this month. If necessary, an interim director will be selected to help ensure the transition.