JOLIET- The Joliet Public Library Board of Trustees recently announced the three large meeting rooms at the Black Road Branch will be named after former Executive Director, James (Jim) R. Johnston. The Board also passed a new Naming Rights Policy to recognize those who have supported the Library through financial contributions or outstanding service. 

“We wanted to find a way to honor those individuals who helped us get where we are today,” said Joliet Public Library Executive Director, Megan Millen. “We are opening up several new rooms at the Ottawa Street Branch with our construction project, and they need to be named. We came up with a naming rights policy and began brainstorming ideas. Jim Johnston’s name came up right away, but after speaking with his family, we learned his heart was really in opening up the Black Road Branch in 2002. It just felt right naming the meeting rooms at Black Road in his honor.”

Johnston served as Executive Director of the  Joliet Public Library for more than 33 years. During his time in the role, Johnston spearheaded the 49,000 foot expansion of the Ottawa Street Branch in the early 1990s, the library’s segue into online and digital services in 1996 and the building of the Black Road Branch in 2002. He passed away in February 2021. A small ceremony dedicating the pavilion to Johnston took place on December 8, 2021 with his family present. 

Many staff and board members still remember Johnston and his influence on the Joliet Public Library today. Local History Librarian, Anneta Drilling-Sowa, has been working at the library since 1988. She remembers Johnston as a leader who always kept up with the changing needs of patrons at the Library.

“Jim Johnston was always a forward-thinker. He envisioned a plan and worked with it and molded it until it became a reality,” said Drilling-Sowa. “He will forever be one of my heroes, and I am glad we can honor him and his contributions in such a way.” 

“Jim knew that a west side library was needed by the people of Joliet,” added Executive Director Millen. “Today, children and families enjoy free programming planned by staff, and it is always filled with laughter, fun and creativity. Our Book and Bean Cafe is thriving. Our computer center is utilized for all different kinds of reasons, from job searching to homework help. And of course, people of all ages come for the books. Thanks to Jim’s advocacy, we have our beautiful branch. We are forever grateful.” 

The Naming Rights Policy will allow for naming rooms, furnishings, equipment or library collections by way of a nameplate or plaque. Naming opportunities will be at the discretion of the Library Board, and proposals for naming can be submitted to the Library Executive Director. General naming room levels for financial contributions range from $10,000 for a study room or large piece of equipment to $200,000 for an area of the Library like the Local History section. To read the Naming Rights Policy, visit

The Joliet Public Library is a resource for the Joliet community to read, explore, ask and discover. For more information, visit or call 815-740-2660. Library hours are Monday-Thursday from 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., Friday–Saturday from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00-5:00 p.m.