Longtime Atlantic City Free Public Library staff member Sandra Miller is often among the attendees at the annual New Jersey Association of Library Assistants Convention. This year, it was only after a co-worker's last minute cancellation that the dutiful worker was able to attend - and as it turned out, she was glad she did.
Miller was at a presentation with a few co-workers when her name was called for the Kehnast Award, the recipient of which is not revealed until the day of the convention. Miller paused for a few seconds, surprised, before her co-workers urged her to walk to the stage.
"I go down, I accept the award, and then the first words out of my mouth were, 'I wasn't supposed to be here today,'" the Pleasantville resident said.
The Kehnast award is given each year to a library assistant in a New Jersey library who has made a significant contribution to their library and participates in its activities. Miller, who has worked at the library since 1977, certainly checks both boxes.
Miller first joined the library on a temporary basis, tasked with transcribing hours of interviews for the library's living history series about pre-casino Atlantic City. After six months in this role, Miller was given a full-time job and has been an integral member of the library staff since.
Library director Maureen Frank said Miller has long been an important part of the library, and she is glad she is being honored for it.
"We were very excited when we heard she was getting this recognition, which she very much deserves," Frank said. "We were delighted, and we're very happy to let other people know about all the great work she's done."
In addition to her duties as principal library assistant, Miller is always quick to help a colleague in need and is a founding member of the library's Film Society.
In her more than 35 years, Miller has seen the library transform from an analog book repository to the multimedia information hub it is today, and was one of the first staffers to be trained on a computer.
Assistant Library Director Bob Rynkiewicz said Miller has been a vital resource throughout the transition, coming up with ideas to facilitate the change.
"She is really one of those staff members who is always engaged in the organization, always coming up with ideas, actively participating," Rynkiewicz said.
When Miller first started at the library, she hardly expected to be there for five years - let alone 35. But while she may now have been there for more than three decades, for Miller, the job never gets old.
"I love working here; I love serving," Miller said. "I think it's a privilege to serve the public - an honor and a privilege."
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