Here is the second in our series of "Reference Interviews" with RISS Standing Committee Members! 

Name:  Melissa L. Miller, M.M.L.I.S.Melissa L. Miller

Title: Library Supervisor

Institution: University of Southern California (USC), Hoose Library of Philosophy


How long have you been at your current library and what do you do there?

I have been in my current position since May 2013. I hire & manage student assistants, reconcile budget / financial monthly transactions & report them to the division director. I manage weeding & collection projects for Hoose and help manage our LibGuides for both the subject specialties the Head Librarian and I cover and the student assistant training LibGuides & tutorials I created with the summer student assistants. I conduct outreach to faculty via a monthly “news and updates” email for the faculty of the subject areas in Philosophy, Religion, and Anthropology. I teach strategic research/information literacy sessions for our Writing 150 & 340 courses, and our freshman GE Seminars. I participate in the USC Libraries undergraduate orientation and planning committee, as well as the USC Libraries Professional Development Committee. I recently served on the Search Committee for a new Head of the Music Library. I participate in the USC Libraries virtual and traditional in-person reference services.

Why did you decide to become a librarian?

For many years I have enjoyed research & helping people become more strategic when conducting their own research. During my undergraduate studies I decided to pursue a Master of Management in Library and Information Science (MMLIS) through a new program offered by USC Marshall School of Business. I thought this would be a great way to combine my 18+ years of business background, my love of learning, and my passion for research. The focus of the program was on leadership in the context of librarianship and creating information leaders for the future. I graduated in December, 2014 and I am now enrolled in the USC Rossier School of Education doctoral program (Ed.D.). I hope to combine the things I have learned on the job as a Library Supervisor and instructor with the skills I have from the MMLIS program to enhance the field of education as a professor.

Tell us a bit about reference and information services at your library

The USC Libraries have 23 libraries overall and 19 of those are located on our main campus. We serve approximately 38,000 students and 4,000 faculty and staff. We provide traditional in-person reference services as well as virtual reference via Springer LibAnswers Email and live chat via LibChat. USC is part of a consortium which allows us to offer 24/7 reference services.

What do you think is the most important issue in reference and information services right now?

I believe there are a few important issues in reference and information services right now. Changing the traditional approach to a more customized strategic research service. Each student will have different level of learning and knowledge, and librarians/information specialists need to meet students, staff and faculty where they are. Also, outreach to department faculty in such a way they feel comfortable partnering with a librarian when designing the semester syllabus or the one-shot information literacy instruction session.  Another concern for librarians and information specialists in this digital age is to think about the broader picture, think globally in an interdisciplinary way.