Interview with Jessie Milligan, Southwestern Oregon Community College

Continuing our interview series of reaching out to academic library leaders across the state to facilitate “getting to know” our colleagues… the next interview in this series is with Jessie Milligan, Librarian at Southwestern Oregon Community College (SOCC), in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Jessie supervises the SOCC campus library and library workers. We hear a lot about the larger institutions in the state, but this month we wanted to focus on some of the lesser-known Oregon academic libraries.

Thanks for talking with us, Jessie!

Jessie Milligan
Jessie Milligan, Librarian, Southwestern Oregon Community College

1. Tell us a little bit about your work background.

Sure, I actually started out as a journalist. For 30 years, I wrote feature stories for newspapers. Finally, there came a time where it felt like the internet was taking over everything, and I made a move to my real first love, libraries.

After graduating with my MLS, I worked in several public and academic libraries in the Fort Worth/ Dallas Area in Texas. Then in 2012, I felt the call to return to my Pacific Northwest homeland and accepted my current librarian position at SOCC.

2. What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you started your position?

I’ve noticed an increase in the number of students that use the SOCC library. Some of the projects that I took on in 2012 have helped the library be a space that better serves the student needs. We did an extensive weeding several years ago. It created additional study space, and we hired some congenial staff.

3. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about you?

As of June 2016, I will be retiring from SOCC. I enjoy the peaceful and beautiful surroundings on this campus.

4. What is the biggest challenge facing your library in the upcoming year?

Advocacy. It’s a challenge to keep administration aware of what the library does and can do. There are people that still believe that libraries are only about physical books. Promoting and providing access to our digital resources is a big challenge. Also, administration needs to understand that students require training to operate these digital resources that we spend money on. Students need direction on how to access and when to use these resources

5. What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about your institution?

It’s a beautiful campus. Our students love this library. It overlooks a lake that is teaming with local wildlife. We are located just two miles from the Pacific Ocean. We are a small library in space and collections but have great services. These services offer students access to additional collections outside our school. Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services from both Coos County and other library systems provide our students with access to excellent expanded resources. Coos County has a book mobile service that will deliver items directly to the Southwestern College library.

6. What does advocacy for academic libraries look like from your perspective as a library director?

Constant promotion of the library and its services. Many of our students come from a rural background and are not necessarily tech savvy. They need the opportunity to access our facilities, our resources, and our staff.

~ Jennifer Cox, ACRL-OR -Member At-Large (2016)
Supervising Librarian, The Art Institute of Portland

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