Gloria Miller is a dedicated librarian with more than 39 years of service with the U.S. Department of Defense.
She launched her career as an intern with the Air Force, subsequently fulfilling librarian roles at a number of different Air Force libraries and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. before joining the Department of the Army.
Now the Command Librarian for Army Futures Command (AFC), Miller sees how access to legacy information is necessary for creating new possibilities.
“You have to know what exists in order to push the envelope further,” Miller said.
The majority of her experience has been in science and technology libraries, which provide key information to scientists, technologists, researchers and engineers.
Miller didn’t always know she wanted to pursue a career in library science, but she knew she loved learning about the natural world.
“I’d been a library volunteer in high school and worked in my public library for a little bit, but my love was the science literature, reading about science,” she explained.
Right before going to college in eastern Pennsylvania, where she studied natural science, Miller discovered the niche category of research libraries and felt working in them would be the perfect fit for her interests.
“Most people don’t know about libraries as anything other than school or public libraries,” she said. “When I found out I can be around the science and support the science, that’s really where my interest started.”
Miller went on to obtain a master’s degree in library science from the University of Southern Mississippi, taking as many specialty library courses as she could.
Her experience working at Air Force, Navy and Army science and technology libraries in the ensuing years has only solidified her passion for library science and science in general.
“It’s a wonderful career,” Miller said.
She appreciates that the job has allowed her to experience living in different places – including Alabama, Florida, Texas, Maryland and Washington, D.C. – and also enjoys being part of the cadre of librarians who support Defense Department libraries.
Her current position is located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and supported by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM).
She has held the role for three years, establishing new systems and processes for the young command. Her day-to-day work includes serving on several committees, supporting librarian training, assessing commonalities and efficiencies among the various libraries that fall under the command, and determining the command’s unique requirements for scientific research needs and library programming.
AFC’s libraries and information centers, which primarily are located along the East Coast and fall under DEVCOM or the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC), function as repositories of knowledge, offering a multitude of science and engineering books, journals and manuals. About half of the 11 libraries and centers are virtual, with the other half being in-person.
“All research is built on previous research,” Miller said, highlighting the necessity of present-day military scientists and engineers having access to foundational and historical subject matter.
Topics researched in the libraries can range from the durability of helicopter blade coatings in different operational environments to the potential for using hyperbaric chambers for treatment of venomous spider bites. At the DEVCOM Soldier Center, the library keeps information on military uniform fabric dating back decades, so that developers can reference and understand which attributes have worked well and which have required adjusting.
The majority of the libraries contain published, publicly available information, though some also contain classified documents. Information culled from academic journals and research that happens outside of the military sphere can help inform military activities, Miller explained. The largest library of the group is at the Army Research Laboratory, located in Adelphi, Maryland.
During her time working in military libraries, Miller has helped scientists locate papers and studies that help further their research, as well as identified areas for improvement in library operations. At one time, she helped an Army library identify and remove duplicate contracts for the same commercial products, which had been spread out across various organizations. By
instead creating one large, overarching contract, Miller was able to help the Army save $2 million in the first year of the new approach, while also expanding access.
She has received numerous accolades over the years for her contributions, including the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal from both the Air Force and Army, and continues to be motivated by her penchant for scientific learning and her ability to support U.S. military problem-solving and achievements.