A Tribute to William Miller, Past President of ACRL

Miller tribute pic

William (“Bill”) Miller, dean of libraries emeritus at Florida Atlantic University, died Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Naples, Florida, at age 72. He was active in the Association of College and Research Libraries from 1988-2013 and served as president from 1996-1997. During his visionary leadership, the Board approved funding for the development of the ACRL Institute for Information Literacy Immersion Program, now in its 25th year.

Miller’s 1997 president’s program explored the vision of the learning library, a concept that still resonates today. His president’s program was the first to be offered as a teleconference: ACRL members in Kansas, Massachusetts, Alabama, and Utah were able not only to listen to the program, but also to call in with their questions. Another exciting departure from past President's Programs was the creation of "A Showcase of Ideas" that complemented the President's Program content using dramatic presentations, posters, and audiovisual displays. As a skilled facilitator, he helped the ACRL Bibliographic Instruction Section find a new name in 1994-95 using the Delphi method to work towards consensus.  

He was a gifted fundraiser and under his leadership the ACRL Colleagues Committee raised more than $280,000 in support for the 1999 and 2001 ACRL Conferences. As a major donor to the ACRL 75th Anniversary Conference Scholarship campaign in 2015, he encouraged others to give, saying: “I know the value of ACRL’s conferences for newer librarians, and I know how hard it can be to obtain travel funding.”

A respected writer, researcher, and advocate, he published widely, including College & Research Libraries, College & Research Libraries News, and, notably, The Chronicle of Higher Education, where he tackled troubling myths about online information with verve, wit, and panache. His 1997 observation that “much of what purports to be serious information [online] is simply junk -- neither current, objective, nor trustworthy” is beyond prescient.  

Miller was also responsible for establishing the annual ACRL academic library statistics program in 1998 to improve access to library data for the profession. More than twenty-one years later, the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey remains one of Miller’s most important legacies. He also represented ACRL on the National Center for Education Statistics Academic Library Survey Advisory Board for many years.

In lieu of flowers, Miller’s family has asked that donations be made to the ACRL Conference Scholarship Fund at https://ec.ala.org/donation/ACR-3831-CONFUN.