Meet your Library Staff: Jessie Miglus
Fresh off the press, a book has many paths to get into the hands of a reader. It may go to a local bookstore or a Target where it will be purchased and read by a few people over its time on earth.
Certain books have their destinies written by Poudre Libraries librarians. These books reach the hands of thousands after they are shelved at one of our locations. In between these steps, a book must become a library book and people like our own bibliographic clerk Jessie Miglus are instrumental in getting library reads into the community’s hands.
The Road to Libraries
Hailing from New England, Jessie spends her spare time playing trombone in a local band called Shtonk Brass, collecting and selling vintage buttons and sewing supplies, and spending time with her daughter and husband.
Working in libraries is a family profession; Jessie’s mother is an archivist librarian back home in New England. Of her path to working in libraries she said, “I was one of the library kids after school. The library was right next to us so we would all hang out there until our parents picked us up and probably made the librarians’ lives hard being too loud in the kids’ section. That’s the third space, right? It’s not home or school or work. You don’t have to pay to be there, and you feel secure and cozy.”
After earning her Costume Design degree in college, Jessie spent time working as a barista for several years before switching gears to a public-focused job after volunteering at a Library in Ithaca, New York.
“I took the Civil Service exam to be a library clerk and I aced it. I got 100%. There were no positions open, they just offered the course every six months and then you were in the pool of candidates. Shortly after, I was hired.”
Libraries across the country vary as much as the municipalities they serve. Jessie’s first job was at a small library with a service area that covered about 9,000 people including many in rural areas. She was one of five staff members at this job compared to Poudre Libraries ~145 staff members.
“We all did everything! Our director did storytimes. You sort of had to multitask. I did desk, cataloging, summer reading, shelving. You name it, we did it.”
After Jessie’s spouse got a job as an entomologist in Fort Collins, their family settled here, and Jessie found a job with Poudre Libraries. Like her previous job, she can always count on variety. On busy days, she processes over 300 books as a bibliographic clerk at our Midtown location, the place where books become Library books.
“I’m the first point of contact for the books coming into the library. I receive all the boxes, open them, and then enter the titles into Sierra (our cataloging system.)”
When things go wrong with an order, like books not arriving, she contacts vendors directly. She also does some “pre-processing” like placing barcodes or RFIDs in books. RFIDs are the magical chips that automatically read the book information when it is checked out.
“I love receiving books that have holds on them because I feel like I’m getting the people what they want. Especially something that has a lot of holds on it. Spare by Prince Harry had 120 holds on it by the time we received the first copies of it! It’s satisfying to fill these holds, like ‘yes go out into the world into the hands of the people.’”
Our Midtown location is not a public location. Their daily hustle is fundamental to what makes our Libraries work. Because it happens behind the scenes, many people are unaware of this vital part of our District.
Reconnecting to the Public
Missing interaction with the public, Jessie decided to pick up another role in the District, “Going from doing all the parts to one super specific thing was an adjustment. I missed talking to people a little bit. It’s fun to be able to help people efficiently. Now, I work one Answer Center shift a week.”
Our Answer Center takes over 30,000 calls per year from customers. “I had someone who called and wanted me to look up the yogurt company she bought from. She had a bone to pick with them because they used to use tapioca starch and now, they use modified tapioca starch.”
Jessie also answered reference calls at her previous library job. “A guy called and wanted me to look up his trampoline company and find the number to give to him so he could find a new part.” Internet access, though widespread, is not always a guarantee, particularly in rural areas. Providing this service is part of what libraries do.
Jessie and Your Next Read from the Library
When she’s not sorting through incoming books or answering customer calls, she dives into her sewing collection hobby and sometimes into a pool to pursue swimming. She’s a member of the National Button Society and has won a blue ribbon for an amazing tray of pictorial buttons featuring different images.
Some of her favorites are turn-of-the-century overall buttons with great, tough names like ‘Can’t Rip ‘em.’ Her favorite animal is the platypus. Naturally, she has a glass platypus button in her collection.
As a self-professed theatre kid, Jessie regularly draws on her creative side. She still puts her costume design degree to work for her daughter’s Halloween costumes. “For her first Halloween, she was about 10 months old, and she was crawling and drooling a lot. I made her a Jabba the Hut costume. That’s one of my favorites.”
Her band serves up groovy tunes at events at New Belgium, the Lyric, Jessup Farms and other locations across the area. She also loves to read and rotates her book choices between her to-be-read list and “snack novels” or books that can be devoured.
She recently listened to Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder on audio with her daughter on a road trip and finished a Charlaine Harris series featuring an alternate history of lady gunslingers. One of her favorites of all time is Heidi by Johanna Spyri and she is a self-professed eBook devotee. “I can always read my book, like at a doctor’s office, it’s right here in my pocket.”
With very few exceptions, Jessie handles almost every item that goes into our collection. Next time you pick up a hold or find a new read while browsing, it’s thanks to Jessie and her colleagues at Midtown (and of course, the in-building staff who shelved it.)
“I just like how interconnected the Library is. We depend on the patrons and the patrons depend on us. We depend on you to circulate the book, you depend on us to get them ready for you. It’s nice to feel like we are all parts of a bigger thing.”