Joyce Searcy, the first African American president of Nashville Public Library

Devon Williams
Joyce Searcy/pridepublishinggroup

NASHVILLE, TN — Joyce Searcy, director of community relations at Belmont University, was elected as the board president for The Nashville Public Library. Joyce Searcy is the first African American to serve as president in the Library Board’s history. Searcy will sit alongside Vice President Katy Varney and Secretary Robert K Oermann.

Searcy said, “I am excited to serve the city as NPL board president because the power of the library to connect with the community, foster common ground and fuel passion for learning is more important now than ever.”

Searcy assumes that she was elected because she had been devoted to the Library Board member since 2012. She succeeds Keith Simmons, a former managing partner at Bass, Berry & Sims, who has served as chair since 2011 and a founding member of the Nashville Public Library Foundation and will remain on the board.

Kent Oliver, Nashville Public Library Director stated that it is an honor to have Searcy elected because she is committed and an engaged member of the board. He believes that Searcy’s leadership will lead the library in a positive direction.

Simmons, as the former president, made NPL evolve as one of the finest public institutions in Nashville. During his guidance and leadership, the NPL was recognized as the 2017 Gale/Library Journal Library of the year. He also recently opened Votes for Women, a permanent exhibit in the Main Library to explore the history and ongoing impact of the 19th Amendment, in August 2020.

Simmons said, “I decided that it was now time to step aside as board chair, even as I remain on the board as a loyal and participating board member, and pass board leadership along to other capable hands. I am thrilled that Joyce Searcy will be taking my place. She is an experienced board member and supporter of the library and its work.”

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