Student Katie Miller Pursues Career Pathway as a Music Librarian

SLIS student Katie Miller is an accomplished musician who hopes to combine her love for music with her MLIS degree and pursue a career as a music librarian. Miller already holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, with a focus on viola performance. She works part-time as a professional musician, performing with several local orchestras, including the Modesto Symphony in California. She is also a viola instructor. Yet Miller realized there aren’t too many jobs for professional musicians, so she decided to explore other career options.

When asked why she decided to make the transition from professional musician to librarian, Miller said her interest in librarianship stems from time spent working as a student assistant in her university libraries while earning her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her graduate degree from East Carolina University. “I was able to work in the libraries’ circulation, reference, and preservation departments, and I realized they were my favorite jobs,” said Miller.

While earning her graduate degree in music, Miller also had the opportunity to complete an assistantship as an orchestra librarian. Miller explained that every orchestra has its own music library, and large orchestras are able to employ full-time librarians, which would be her “ideal job.” Miller is also considering working in an academic or music library.

One of Miller’s favorite SLIS courses was LIBR 282: Seminar in Library Management, with a focus on grant writing. The course required Miller to choose a real-world library client and develop a grant proposal for that client to help garner funding. Miller lives in a small town in Northern California and is an active patron of her local public library. She’s there regularly, enjoying children’s programs with her toddler. Through her regular visits, she got to know the library’s branch supervisor, and when she started her LIBR 282 course, she found the branch supervisor was very excited about having Miller develop a grant proposal for the library.

Miller worked with the branch supervisor to identify library programs in need of additional funding, and then conducted research to find potential grantmakers that had an interest in funding similar programs. As her final assignment in the course, Miller wrote a grant proposal, seeking funding for the library’s homework center, which serves local students after school. She also prepared a report for the library, summarizing her research regarding potential library grant funders, along with a plan for publicizing any future grant awards.

Miller said one of the most important things she learned in the course was how to prepare a program budget. “I’d never prepared an organizational budget, and it was a challenge to develop a realistic budget that covered all program expenses,” said Miller. While she acknowledges it was a fairly small program budget, it “gave her a taste” of what it will take to develop larger organizational budgets, helped her understand what library budgets are like, and gave her confidence in approaching future budget tasks.

Miller plans to graduate in Spring 2011. She’ll be bookending her MLIS program with her children. Her son was born at the end of her first semester in the program, and she is expecting her second child shortly before graduation. She’ll be wrapping up her e-portfolio as she cares for her newborn, and she’ll be dreaming of a future career as a music librarian.