June Johnson shares her passion for knowledge with the community
June Johnson, reference and instruction librarian, isn't just passionate about reading — she's also passionate about mentoring students on campus and in the community to help them learn the importance of gaining knowledge through books.
"I know it's kind of cliche, but knowledge is power," Johnson said.
Johnson originally went to college with the hopes of becoming a schoolteacher. However, after a semester in school, she left to go into the Army to earn extra money for college. She got married and had a child, which led her to stay in the Army for 20 years.
When she retired from the military, Johnson decided to get that college degree she had her eye on. She came to Texas Wesleyan where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in history in 2006.
She had thought about becoming a teacher of African American Studies but then decided to go into library services after noticing that not a lot of Black women worked in libraries at the time. Johnson then went to Texas Women's University to get her master's in library science and graduated in 2012.
She's worked at the circulation desk at the Eunice and James L. West Library at Texas Wesleyan for the past 16 years and was recently promoted to reference librarian in September 2022. Through her time in the West Library, she's worked to not only provide library services. but become a mentor to students.
"I think a lot of people see librarians as just people who sit in a library and read all day. That's a myth," she said. "Knowledge is to be shared. And as a librarian, the more you can reach people, the more you can make a difference."
Johnson says she intentionally looks for freshmen each year to start making an impact early on their college careers. It's the kind of influence that leaves lasting impressions on students even long after their graduation as she's mentioned a few students who have come back to see her, including the current president of the Alumni Board, Eric Montoya.
"You'll find a lot of students who don't like to read, and I think when I get to share my passion with reading, it encourages them," Johnson said. "I really just want to make a difference to our students."
Johnson believes in the power of being on Texas Wesleyan's campus and has recently published a poem, "Standing in Your Truth," in the Aries, a literary magazine that publishes creative writing work from Texas Wesleyan's students, faculty and staff.
"I really love that poem," she said. "I believe as a woman, mother, daughter, friend, Christian — you have to stand in your truth. There are so many obstacles I'm faced with daily, but I can't waver. And there are days it is hard, but I always reflect back to my poem."
But she doesn't just make an impact on Texas Wesleyan's campus — she's making waves in Fort Worth through her passion to share books from Black authors and support Black business owners.
Johnson is part of the Black Caucus Round table (BCRT) with the Texas Library Association. The BCRT promotes services to African Americans and African American librarians by allowing them to have open channels of communication. Johnson chaired the BCRT in 2022.
"Being the chair for the Black Caucus Round Table was a great joy," she said, smiling as she reminisced about her time in the organization.
And if that wasn't enough, in 2022, Johnson and Sonja Gaddy, coordinator of academic support and testing, put together a task force in just one night to help get a book, "Black Boy, Black Boy," out to kids in the Fort Worth community. The two authors, Ali Kamanda and Jorge Redmond, visited The Dock Bookshop — the only Black-owned bookstore in Fort Worth — and were looking for ways to get the book out in the community.
The ladies worked with Hope Farm, a leadership development program for at-risk boys in Fort Worth, to provide the books to the boys in the program.
“We immediately went into action,” she said. “We wanted them to be able to sell their books and give every boy a book. We were able to purchase books for every boy in the program and the author was able to go there and meet them.” That same year, she also won the Ann Barnett Service award from Texas Women’s University. The $1,000 award “recognizes exemplary service to the principles and purposes of librarianship and professional education as demonstrated by sensitivity and responsiveness to people’s needs,” according to Texas Women’s website.
“2022 was really a good year for being a librarian,” she smiled. “I thought [winning the award] was pretty cool.”
Johnson mentioned that she had been getting ready to retire from being a librarian but has stayed at Texas Wesleyan to finish her goals and because of the connections she’s made with many women on campus.
“That cliché that the RAMily is like a family — it really is,” she said. “The women that I have met here, we have a bond for life. These ladies are amazing. It’s a strong sisterhood.
“And I feel like there’s more lives I can be impacting,” she said. “I know I can’t stick around forever, but at least a few more years to see if I can make a change — that’s my whole goal.”
You can find Johnson in the West Library guiding students, planning materials for classes and working on her new story for the 2023 spring edition of the Aries.