Rush Miller to Retire After 20 Years of Leading the University Library System

Issue Date: 
June 16, 2014

Rush Miller, a visionary under whose leadership the University Library System has flourished, will retire from his position as director of the system and Hillman University Librarian effective Dec. 31, 2014.

Miller ushered the system of University of Pittsburgh libraries—which now includes 15 libraries and holdings of nearly 7 million books—through two decades of change and growth. Under his direction, the University Library System has embraced new technologies like on-demand book printing, enhanced library resources for students and faculty, and been at the forefront of the movement toward open access to scholarly publications.

“The past two decades have brought daunting challenges to most libraries—including budgetary constraints, a technology revolution, and dramatically different patterns of usage. As a result, many libraries have struggled. However, Rush Miller saw opportunities in every challenge, and under his distinguished and determined leadership, the University of Pittsburgh Library System grew in strength, stature, and impact,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “Rush has played a major role in Pitt’s progress, and we are grateful for his many contributions.”

“The last 20 years have been a time of immense change in the field of information technology, and Rush’s visionary leadership of the University Library System during this time has been an essential component of the University’s overall success,” said Patricia E. Beeson, Pitt provost and senior vice chancellor. “Under his leadership, the University Libraries have also been instrumental in advancing the University’s international ambitions. He will be deeply missed.”

Since Miller took his position in 1994, the library holdings at Pitt have doubled and now include more than one million electronic books and 110,000 journals. The University Library System publishes numerous scholarly e-journals, free of charge, to partners who share its support for open access to research information. It is one of the top publishers of international journals, something Miller calls “an extension of our global outreach as a library system.”

Under Miller’s leadership, Pitt’s libraries have helped to implement an extensive international document delivery service with more than two dozen libraries in China, Taiwan, and South Korea. He developed a staff exchange program with libraries in China, resulting in more than 40 Chinese librarians coming to Pitt for training and 12 Pitt staff members accepting positions in China. In 2012, the Chinese American Librarians Association presented Miller with its Distinguished Service Award.

At Hillman Library, the Pittsburgh campus’s main library, Miller led improvements to replace the traditional reference desk with a group of liaison librarians, who fan out across campus meeting with students and faculty members to better serve their needs. There are more spaces for group study, a special Dissertation Writing Room, and an expanded library café—the site of a popular Friday concert series. Hillman Library is often open 24 hours a day during the school year and is bustling with more activity now than ever in its history.

Miller helped to lead the acquisition of an Espresso Book Machine, which can print a library-quality paperback book with a full-color laminated cover in just minutes, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Press and the University Store on Fifth, which also serves as a central campus bookstore, where the machine is now housed.

In addition to a Master of Library Science degree from Florida State University, Miller earned a Master of Arts degree in medieval history from Delta State University and a PhD in medieval history from Mississippi State University. He held positions as director of library services at Delta State University from 1975-1982, director of libraries at Sam Houston State University from 1982-86, and dean of libraries and learning resources at Bowling Green State University prior to coming to Pitt in 1994.

Miller has been active in a number of leadership roles, including as a member of the Boards of Directors for the Association of Research Libraries and the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium.

A search committee will be formed to identify Miller’s successor.