Milburn succeeds Jean Berg, who has served as the system's director for the past 16 years. Berg will retire on Aug. 31. A reception in her honor is planned for Sunday, Aug. 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Monett branch at Sixth and Bond.
Milburn has over 20 years of experience in public library systems. She has served as a senior manager, senior adult services librarian, reference librarian and associate librarian. She is experienced in managing staff, establishing strategic plans and goals and planning and implementing reorganization activities for an expansion.
Since 1993, Milburn has been employed by the Memphis Public Library. Prior to that she was employed at the Kansas City Public Library. She is a native of the Kansas City area, where her parents still live. Milburn has a bachelor and masters degree of music in piano performance from the University of Missouri in Kansas City and a master of library science degree from the University of Missouri in Columbia.
Berg said Milburn has purchased a home and already moved to Monett. The library board selected her for the position in June.
Finding a successor for Berg took six months. There were 15 applicants coming from Cassville, Aurora, Jefferson City, Kansas City and St. Louis in Missouri. Out-of-state applicants submitted resumes from Maryland, Florida, California, Nevada, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas.
"It's too big a job to hire someone without adequate experience," Berg said.
The library system has an annual budget of $1.5 million, operates 10 branches and has major building maintenance issues to address. Berg said the combination of challenges creates a much different job than working at one facility.
The committee narrowed its search to three candidates, the others coming from Las Vegas, Nev., and Lawrence, Kan. Interviews were conducted with the finalists by Skype and by phone. The full board conducted only one interview, with Milburn.
"Gina is very outgoing and warm," Berg said. "I was really impressed. She was very positive about looking forward to new challenges. That's what convinced the board."
Milburn has been responsible for department activities and functions, including managing up to 23 staff members at her previous position. She worked at the central branch in Memphis since 1996, which operates in a 330,000-square-foot facility that has library radio and television stations. The Memphis system has 18 branches and was described by Milburn as "a diverse and economically challenged community."
Milburn's resume cited the development of programs through working with the Friends of the Library, the Foundation for the Library and the Memphis Area County Library. She served on the Tennessee Electronic Database Selection Committee that recommended technology purchases for all the libraries in the state.
Milburn also has a 10-year-old daughter who is adopted from China.
Berg plans to work closely with Milburn over the next month to orient her with all of the district's operations, grant opportunities and goals. Milburn will have her office in the Monett Branch.