Patricia "Patty" Wong
& Chris Brown
In Conversation — with ALA President-Elect, Patricia "Patty" Wong
and Chicago Public Library Commissioner, Chris Brown
Meet Chicago’s New Library Commissioner
Join ALA President-Elect, Patricia "Patty" Wong and the Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library, Chris Brown when they discuss Brown's move back to Chicago; librarians moving to leadership roles; and his advice for librarians and students.
Chicago Public Library Commissioner Chris Brown has spent his career creating opportunities for transformative learning through public libraries. Brown, who joined CPL in February 2021, leads one of the largest library systems in the world, with a budget of $130 million and 81 locations, including three regional hubs and a 750,000-square-foot central library.
Prior to CPL, Brown most recently served as Deputy County Librarian at Santa Clara County Library District. Over his career in libraries, he has led the expansion of Sunday hours in the most under-resourced cities in Santa Clara County, California; collaborated with neighborhood leaders on strategic planning initiatives; led the development of the nation’s first online museum pass program; and spearheaded market segmentation studies to better understand community needs. Brown is nationally recognized for innovation in libraries, including supporting veterans, parents of court-involved youth, and other non-traditional library users.
He was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2016, an honor recognizing individuals who represent “the outsize impacts that librarians can have.” Brown’s leadership has garnered additional awards, including the Urban Libraries Council Top Innovator Award, the California Library Association PRExcellence Award, and a John Cotton Dana Award from the American Library Association. Most recently, he served on the California Library Association board.
Brown earned a master’s in public administration from the University of San Francisco and a master’s in library and information science from San José State University.
Patricia “Patty” Wong is currently President-Elect for the American Library Association and will become President in June 2021. She is the City Librarian for the Santa Monica Public Library, in service since March 2017. In her 34-year career she has held positions throughout CA, including, Yolo County Library; Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library; Oakland Public Library and Berkeley Public Library; and Oakland Unified School District, and she was a bookseller during her student life. Her work in managing change; equity and diversity; youth development; developing joint ventures and collaborations between public libraries and community agencies; and fundraising has been published in a number of journals, conference proceedings, and edited collections.
Wong has worked as a school librarian, children’s librarian, cataloger, and special librarian as well as her leadership roles in public libraries. She also provides continuing education for practitioners at national and regional conferences. Wong has been an active leader within the American Library Association for 35 years. She is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker; recipient of the ALA Equality Award (2012); Faculty of the Year; and Woman of the Year in her voting district. In addition to her role as board member for a number of nonprofit institutions, Wong is also adjunct faculty for the iSchool at San Jose State University where she has taught hundreds of students since 2004 to serve young people and write grants to benefit local and regional communities and make the world a better place.