Glenn F. Miller
Glenn F. Miller was born December 5, 1937 in Saginaw, Michigan, 4th of 11 children to Herbert and Evelyn Miller. Miller attended elementary school, junior high and senior high school in Saginaw, Michigan. An avid reader, Miller began clerking in the Saginaw Public Library at age 16. Miller was married to Janice Marie Gase, and they had 3 children, Anne (born in 1964), Thomas E ‘Tom’ (born in 1965), and John J (born in 1966).
ABOVE: Glenn Miller charting growth in October 1974.
In 1958, he began full time work as reference assistant in the Saginaw Public Library while attending college. Miller received his BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1962, and his MA in Library Science from the University of Michigan in 1963. After college, he became the city librarian in Southfield, Michigan with the Wayne County Library System.
Orlando Public Library
In June 1969, Glenn Miller and his family moved to Winter Park, Florida, where he became the Assistant Director of the Orlando Public Library and went on to become Director in November 1970, at the age of 32. Miller served for 25 years as library director, retiring in April 1995.
During his time as director, perhaps one of his biggest accomplishments was a 1980 referendum, when voters approved, by a comfortable margin, the creation of a special library tax district, which gives the library extraordinary security and autonomy, and the issue of $22 million in bond issues for the library expansion, allowing the Orlando Public Library to become officially, the Orange County Library System. The photo above is from the library expansion Grand Opening special edition of the Florida Magazine published in the Orlando Sentinel, August 6, 1986.
In March 1993, Mr. Miller published a long list of all the staff suggestions that had been investigated and all the ones put into use in the library system.
Mr. Miller also began nationally recognized innovations such as drive through pickup windows, books by mail, and the sale of used library books. Glenn Miller served as President for the Florida Library Association in 1978, was a member of WMFE-TV Channel 24 Public Television, the American Library Association, the Public Library Association and the Southeastern Library Association. He was also a member of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church.
ABOVE: Glenn Miller with WMFE-TV Channel 24’s homemade Big Bird costume, circa 1974.
As a member of the board of directors of Orlando’s PBS station – WMFE-TV Channel 24 – Mr. Miller participated in the first Channel 24 Auction broadcast from November 18-23, 1974. The auction site was in an old building at the corner of Colonial and Orange in what is now a parking lot in front of the old Orlando Sentinel building. He seemed to enjoy his new role as an auctioneer, as evidenced in a series of photos taken while he manned the Mayor’s Jewelers board.
ABOVE and BELOW: Auctioneer Glenn Miller at WMFE-TV Channel 24 Auction November 1974.
Favorite Expressions and Harry Smith
Glenn Miller retired in March 1995 and staff memorialized some of his favorite expressions, including his references to the average library user he called “Harry Smith.” He was also featured on the front cover of the March 1995 Friends of the Library Newsletter and a special insert.
Mr. Miller spoke to Orlando Sentinel’s Nancy Pate, about Harry Smith for the April 6, 1986, special edition of the Florida Magazine published for the grand opening celebration of the library expansion.
As for Harry Smith, he is you and me and all the other taxpayers served by the greatly expanded main library building in downtown Orlando. Harry Smith is Glenn Miller’s favorite person.
“Harry Smith is coming in the front door,” Miller said. “What is going to happen to him? Now, if he’s wandering around blankly, then we’re not doing our job. Our goal is to help Harry. The reason we’re here is because the taxpayers decided they were going to have library services. And we got hired to give them those services, to respond to their needs. This building is Harry Smith’s.”
“Service to people is the force behind the building. Our primary mission hasn’t changed, isn’t going to change. I want this library to maintain and enhance its credibility with the people who are paying for it by giving them the information they need. Budgets and buildings aren’t the important thing. Harry Smith is the important thing.”
ABOVE: March 1995 Friends of the Library Newsletter farewell to Director Glenn Miller.
Mr. Miller’s focus on his mythical average library patron – Harry Smith – was highlighted in the Style section of the Orlando Sentinel in April 17, 1988, in a two-page article entitled: “Glenn Miller: Public is first with the ‘people’s librarian.’
For almost 18 years, Glenn Miller has been the people’s librarian in Orlando, getting them what they want, making sure they get their tax money’s worth of library service. “Glenn is known as one of the real file library directors in the country, and the Orlando library is known for its high standards of community service,” said Bill Summers, dean of Florida State University’s school of library science and information, and president-elect of the ALA. “You go in there and you just don’t feel like you’re dealing with one more government bureaucracy. That library really aims to serve th e users coming through the front door.”
After his retirement, Miller wrote a book on library science, “Customer Service & Innovations in Libraries,” published by the Highsmith Press.
Glenn Miller passed away on June 24, 1996, in Knoxville, Tennessee of an apparent heart attack. He was on a vacation trip with his wife. Miller was 58 years old. He was survived by his wife, Janice; daughter, Anne Thompson, Cleveland; sons, John J., Winter Park, Thomas E., Dayton, Ohio; and seven grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life memorial service and Mass was conducted for Glenn Miller in 1996. The program for the event includes a beautiful eulogy by his son-in-law Chris Thompson who ends with a quote from the poem “Desiderata” which hung on the wall in Glenn Miller’s den: “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
A large collection of newspaper and magazine articles from Mr. Miller’s career and life before relocating to Orlando in 1969 can be found in the Florida Collection vertical files – Orange County – Biography – Miller, Glenn.
Explore additional photographs and documents below.
Booklet created for the 5oth Anniversary of the Orlando Public Library in 1973.
A special edition of the Florida Magazine was created for the grand opening celebration of the expanded Orlando Public Library on April 6, 1986.
1988 Orlando Sentinel article about library director Glenn Miller: "Glenn Miller: Public is first with the 'people's librarian'. From the personal collection of Mary Burnett.
To show staff how many of their suggestions had been put into practice at the Orange County Library System, Library Director Glenn Miller published this list in March 1993.
Glenn Miller Tribute upon his retirement in 1995.
The Black Watch program instituted by Glenn Miller at the Orlando Public Library in 1993. This is an excerpt from his book "Customer service & innovation in libraries."
Articles on the death of Glenn Miller
Celebration of Life for Glenn Miller with eulogy by his son-in-law, newspaper writer, Chris Thompson.
Booklet created for the 75th Anniversary of the Orlando Public Library in 1998.
Published in 1996.
Part 1 - Customer Service and Innovation in Libraries by Glenn Miller
Part 2 - Customer Service and Innovation in Libraries by Glenn Miller
Part 3 - Customer Service and Innovation in Libraries by Glenn Miller
Part 4 - Customer Service and Innovation in Libraries by Glenn Miller
Part 5 - Customer Service and Innovation in Libraries by Glenn Miller