Meet Marian Mills
Erin: I am excited for our members to meet Marian Mills. I want to thank her for taking the time to share about her work at the American Philatelic Society. Can you share with our members your position here at the APS and what you do day-to-day?
During the 2019 APS Staff Picnic: Marian oversees the fourth croquet wicket.
Marian: I am the Technical Services Coordinator at the APRL. I just started this job in March 2020, so I've spent more time doing this job from home than in the building. Before that, I was the reference assistant, so I was mostly answering reference questions. Now I'm doing more of the arrangement and descriptions of the library resources as well as uploading new items to the digital library, online, and putting new items on the shelves.
So I just wanted to clarify: you said that you started this position in March 2020 and were the Reference Assistant prior to that, so how long were you in that position?
I started at the APRL in December of 2017 as the Reference Assistant, so a little over two years there, and now I'm in this position.
I know we always talk about being a family at the APS, which we are, but some people might not know that you have a family member who works here as well, Susanna. So we have the Mills sisters and it's cool to know that there is a family working together as well.
Oh yeah, and she also started working in the library as well.
Andrea, Susanna, and Marian Mills, 2014.
So what are the best parts of your job currently or previously?
So I love looking at the books and seeing what they are about, it's really nice to see what things come in and what people are writing about in philately. We receive a lot of donations and I love looking through these items as well to figure out what things are being written about. I also love archives which makes sense since I got my degree in archiving.
We have some really cool archival collections. There's so much information in the library and every day I was in the reference position I learned something new.
I'm not sure if everyone knows that we have archives here at APS, but we have things ranging from photos, maps, letters, art, posters, pamphlets and much more. Besides learning more about these archives, what is another resource on the website that you think our members would love to use in reference to your job?
Right now the digital library is open to the public, and usually it is only for members, but at this time anyone can use it through the end of May 2020. If you go to stamplibrary.org and go to the digital library you can find: back issues of The American Philatelist, back issues of the Collectors Club Philatelist, and much more. I'm adding new things weekly, and currently, I'm working on adding various exhibits.
Can you tell me how you've transitioned to working at home during this time?
I brought home three boxes of donations to go through and I've been working on adding them to the catalog and getting them ready to add to the library when we reopen. We also received big donations of CDs that have a lot of information on them, so I am looking over them to see if they would be something to upload or something we can loan out through the library. I also have been uploading things to the digital library, mostly exhibits as I mentioned earlier, so I brought home a big folder of permissions to upload various exhibits so I've been working on adding those as well. The big thing about being in the library and working from home is that we don't have access to the collection at home, so I've been thinking about ways that we can make the back end better going forward.
You are quite the busy bee, and most of the time I think of libraries as quiet and reserved places, but now we get a window, the "behind the scenes" of how all of these items are made so accessible and how much work goes into updating and adding new material to APRL and the digital library.
There are so many projects that we don't get to work on because of the daily needs of members. Now with us working from home we get this time to really work on the back end, which is not always a priority when you're in the library every day.
At the reference desk, you get to hear about something that makes people happy, and it is such a joy that you get to help them with it.
Volunteer Work Week 2019: In her previous position as Reference Assistant, Marian scanned resources to help members with their philatelic research.
Summer Seminar 2019: APRL staff members worked one-on-one to assist APS members with their research.
So since we've learned a lot about your job, I'd like to learn a little more about you. Are you a stamp collector, and if not what would you collect?
I am not really a stamp collector, but I do have an accumulation of stamps that I’ve acquired since I started working at the APS. I had thought that I might like to collect Irish postal items, because for my thesis in graduate school I wrote about these Irish women in the 1920s and '30s; I read a lot of their letters to each other and the letters they wrote to revolutionaries in India. I thought I might collect covers and stamps from that era in order to remember those women and all of the time I spent thinking about them and studying their history. So I mentioned all of this to my coworkers and some volunteers at the APS, and now I have a lot of Irish stamps . . . Maybe this is a good time to go through them and put them into an album.
I love that you brought both hobbies that you enjoy together: archives and postal history. I think you might end up being a stamp collector in the future! (Laughs)
What is a fun fact about you that you can share with our members?
I had an internship during grad school (Simmons University, Boston) in the archive for a company that was a contractor for NASA during the Apollo program. We were getting ready for the 50th anniversary of the various Apollo milestones and so the company brought in a bunch of the people who used to work for them for interviews. I got to meet all these rocket scientists and software engineers who helped to build the rockets and computers that went to the moon. I almost met Margaret Hamilton - she was going to come in for an interview, but I had a class that day . . . so I didn't get to meet her and I was really disappointed.
Well the fact that you met some of the rocket scientists and engineers from NASA is really cool. Lastly, can you tell me something you enjoy about our members?
Working at the reference desk was such a great opportunity to get to know members and their passion for the hobby. You get to hear about something that makes people happy, and it is such a joy that you get to help them with it.
Our members are so generous as well, they send the most beautiful mail and thank you notes. I've received so many lovely thank you notes for doing simple tasks, and I get these thank you notes on the most beautiful paper, with the most beautiful covers. It's really a great hobby to meet people who are so happy and passionate about their collections.
I just want to point out that I have seen this collection of thank you notes that you keep, which you used to keep in your desk drawer at the reference desk. You told me before about your appreciation of the members who took the time to send these notes. It's really heartwarming when members come in and take the time to share their stories with us.
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100 Match Factory Place
Bellefonte, PA 16823
c/o APS Cares
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