Local librarian receives statewide award
A librarian at Warren Public Library has been recognized by her peers with a statewide award.
Julie Miller, WPL Interlibrary Loan Librarian, was awarded the Pennsylvania Library Association’s New Librarian Honors Award during a virtual meeting and ceremony Thursday.
PLA Executive Director Christi Buker and 2020 President Michele Legate — who won the award in 2014 — turned the presentation over to Awards Committee Co-Chair Carrie Sturgill.
“The Pennsylvania Library Association is pleased to present the New Librarian Honors Award to Julie Miller, Interlibrary Loan Librarian at the Warren Public Library,” Sturgill said. “She was given the difficult task of revamping the interlibrary loan department.”
Miller was assigned that task about three years ago.
Interlibrary loan allows for scarce resources to be shared among libraries.
“If you want a book or any material like that and we don’t have it, a patron can contact the library and I can work on getting it for them,” Miller said. “That’s throughout the state of Pennsylvania.”
“I took the department over from Barb Tubbs,” she said. “She worked in the library for over 40 years. Barb left a really good foundation. I can’t say enough wonderful things about Barb Tubbs.”
Tubbs took Miller under her wing — she stayed on at the library through Miller’s transition and was on the virtual meeting Thursday to witness the award presentation.
Miller’s job was to take the department forward.
“The idea behind revamping it was learning from what she had and streamlining, updating, and, of course, new tech,” Miller said.
The department is “a lot of paper,” she said. “I was charged with figuring out if we could get rid of some of the paper.”
Some? Yes. But not all. There’s still plenty of paper in that system.
Sturgill explained that the award “recognizes the originality and inventive ability of a new librarian who devises new and improved methods in library service on a statewide or local level and who demonstrates promise for continued growth in librarianship.”
Miller was in marketing before becoming a librarian. She realized that a marketing career was not what she wanted, but that background has helped her bring a new perspective to the library — and an award to her mantle.
“I was working at the Times Observer,” she said. “I’d been there about four or five years.”
“I liked what I did, but I didn’t want to do it forever,” Miller said. “I had been feeling kinda stuck.”
Her mother, a teacher, ran into a family friend who was also a teacher. He asked about Julie.
“Mark Sweet said, ‘What’s Julie doing? I always thought she’d be a librarian,” Miller said.
It turns out he was right.
“It was one of those moments that just made sense,” she said. “I started looking at programs that night.”
She was accepted and started working toward a masters degree.
“It’s been fun to manipulate this job into its own thing. It’s been creating a hybrid of sorts,” Miller said. “I’ve done a lot of marketing. I handle a lot of what’s on the website. I’ve done a lot of social media.”
The impacts of COVID-19 resulted in Miller having additional time to devote to that hybridization.
“When we were closed during the quarantine, I took it under my wing and got our new website up and running,” she said. “I got us set up with Google Analytics and Google Ads.”
“She’s been fabulous,” WPL Executive Director Kellie Knapp said. “I want to say how deserving Julie is of this award. She has been invaluable. I don’t know what we would do without her. Thank you for recognizing her.”
The award is a memorable event for Miller.
“It’s been something wonderful that’s happened in a very weird year. This is one good thing that’s happened,” she said. “It feels good, this is an award that other librarians choose you for. That’s cool that I was picked by my peers.”
“I grew up here,” she said. “I feel lucky to be a librarian here. I feel very lucky to work with the people I work with here. I’ve got really great co-workers. It’s a really good team environment.”
Her award reflects on all of them.
“It’s great to shine a spotlight…” she said. “It’s a really great group of people that I work with.”