Library Director Named Innovator of the Year
Aiken Technical College Library Director Katie Miller continuously seeks to serve students in unique ways and her efforts have earned her the 2020 A. Wade Martin Innovator of the Year Award from the South Carolina Technical College System.
“A visit to the Aiken Technical College Library will show that it is no longer just a place for books. It has become a space to explore, interact, and to develop new skills,” said Crystal Ratliff, ATC Dean of Student Success and Retention, who nominated Miller for the award.
The annual award honors a full-time employee within the system who has used innovative methods to meet the needs of the system or their college.
“Innovation” is also one of the College’s core values, and Miller has been a great example of how the value is incorporated into the College’s focus on student success, said Dr. Vinson Burdette, ATC Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.
“Katie is an outstanding and creative innovator, whose efforts are making positive differences in the lives of the students, faculty, and staff at Aiken Technical College,” he said. “Her focus on helping students succeed in unique and creative ways is highly commended.”
Miller’s own experiences have guided her efforts to provide a variety of learning opportunities for students that allow them to be hands-on and creative, she said.
“Libraries are traditionally a place for books but growing up, I struggled with learning in traditional ways. I was identified as a kinesthetic learner and once I could learn by doing, it all became so much easier for me,” she said. “All libraries seek to help their patrons in different ways so we remain relevant in society…I was looking for how our Library could best meet the needs of our students.”
In 2017, Miller introduced anatomical models to the Library’s collection for students to use while studying for biology and anatomy and physiology classes. The collection started with six skeletons and has since grown to more than 100 varying anatomical models.
“The anatomic model collection she has put together is incredible. As the Dean of Health Sciences and instructor in anatomy and physiology, I can attest to the quality and value this has added to our students’ educational experience,” said Dr. Keith Brammell.
In 2018, Miller led efforts to create the ATC Library’s S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Room, a makerspace that includes technologies such as a 3-D printer and scanner, virtual reality equipment and software, video camera, green screen, electrical circuit kits, a drone, graphic calculators, and art supplies.
“The makerspace was a dream of mine for about seven years,” said Miller. “It took us a while to figure out space and how to get started with a limited budget. As technology has gotten less expensive, we were able to make a dream become a reality. We’ve added a little every year as the budget allowed and now we’re ready to expand the space so we can continue to grow.”
In addition, she has partnered with the College’s Student Success Center to have tutors in the S.T.E.A.M. Room to assist students using various technologies.
For Miller, the best part about her role is seeing students become engaged with the Library and excited about the offerings.
“It’s been a joy to see students have lightbulb moments through what we provide in the Library. They’re always surprised to hear we have calculators, anatomical models, and virtual reality systems, but once they know what we have, we see them a lot more,” said Miller. “It’s been fun to transform the way our students think about our Library.”