J. B. Petty is professor emeritus of Missouri State University. Her career in librarianship spanned 35 years. She worked in school and academic libraries, serving children in a variety of grades, and coordinated a library science program, teaching library science courses on the graduate level. Her research has focused on multicultural literature for elementary and middle-school students. She is the author of numerous journal articles and reviews, as well as a chapter in the second edition of Venture into Cultures. Since 2000 she has made annual presentations on multicultural literature for middle-schoolers and for public and school librarians. She served as president of the Arkansas Library Association (1997) and received their Special Service Award the following year. In 2010 she received the Special Service Award from the Missouri Association of School Librarians.