Kentucky’s oldest librarian turns 100

A former Kentucky librarian and lifetime advocate is celebrated her 100th birthday on March 14, 2016. Nancy Hubbard Johnson Head, Nan to her friends and family, is mother to Campbell County Public Library Board Treasurer Paul Johnson. Paul credits his mom with instilling all her children with a love of books and a passion for public service.


Nan Johnson as a young woman.

Nan began her love affair with libraries by working in the Hodgenville High School library as a student and continued her work when she went to Transylvania University. Once Nan met her husband, Patrick Dean Johnson, she left school and became a full-time wife and mother. Nan and Patrick had nine children.

In 1962, Nan, now in her mid-40s, decided to start a volunteer library in the small town of New Haven, Kentucky. The library opened in an old gas station and was stocked with donated books from community  leaders and borrowed books from the library in Bardstown, Kentucky. In 1967, the New Haven volunteer library became a part of the Nelson County Library system. Nan continued working out of the New Haven branch and advocated at the state level for library funding.

She worked for the New Haven Library until 1983, when she retired to care for her husband, Patrick, in his final months. But her work was far from over. Kentucky Governor Martha Layne Collins appointed Nan to the Kentucky State Advisory Council on Libraries in 1985 and she served until December 1988.

Nan found love a second time when she married widower Toby Head in 1989. Nan went into full retirement, enjoying a life of gardening, golfing and grandchildren. She lived in her New Haven home until she was 97 years old. She now lives in a nursing home.

Her legacy for service to libraries continues in her children. Her daughter, Nancy, was a bookmobile driver in Bowling Green, Martha was the President of the Washington County Library Board and Paul serves as CCPL’s Board Treasurer.

The Kentucky library community is thankful to Nan for her dedication to providing library services in Nelson County and beyond.

Happy birthday, Nan!

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