February 16, 2018

Trent Miller | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Educators

Trent Miller


Library Program Coordinator (aka Head Bubblerarian and Gallery Coordinator), Madison Public Library, WI

MFA Painting, Boston University, 2003

@madisonbubbler; @tmiller49; madisonbubbler.org; facebook.com/madisonbubbler; trentmillerart.com

Photo by Jess Horn

Bubblerarian in Chief

When the Madison Public Library began planning its new Central Library in 2011, “Trent [Miller] was part of a small group of creative thinkers who addressed several questions,” recalls Library Director Greg Mickells. “How could we reach the 18- to 29-year-old audience our library was missing? How could we offer innovative programming that promotes creativity? And how could we take advantage of the Maker space movement without a large dedicated space or specialized knowledge of technical equipment?”

These questions prompted a one-day event/fundraiser, Bookless. “After our Central Library closed for remodeling, Trent opened the library to more than 100 artists and Makers for a community art event,” Mickells says. Its success—Bookless drew over 5,000 visitors—provided a template for what would become the Bubbler: arts-oriented programming inspired by “the Maker movement, fine art centers, and creative projects in and out of libraries,” says Miller, who is also a visual artist. Rather than concentrating on Maker space mainstays like 3-D printers and other technologies, he says, “we focused on [Madison’s] amazing community of artists. [W]e wanted to connect them [to one another] and give them an opportunity to share their expertise with the public.”

Miller created several ongoing programs including the Artist in Residence initiative, which has provided 750 hours of programming, offering a two-month residency during which artists work on public arts projects, teach classes, and more. Meet Your Maker features community experts who introduce visitors to everything from “cheese making to screen printing to bookmaking,” says Mickells. There’s also Night Light, monthly after­-hours social events and performances, and the Media Lab, digital media production instruction.

“Since the Bubbler’s inception in 2013, we’ve had over 1,000 programs, including lectures, demonstrations, workshops, and performances at libraries, neighborhood centers, schools, and juvenile detention facilities, with attendance over 24,000,” says Miller. Some programs are the result of partnerships with local organizations, schools, and government agencies.

In addition, the Bubbler offers opportunities for interns and volunteers; between eight and 12 LIS students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and local artists share their skills with the Bubbler community at any given time. (For the LIS connection, see Mover & Shaker Rebekah Willett, p. 62.)

“Trent inspires others to think outside the box and develop partnership-based programming with a hands-on, creative focus,” Mickells says.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. When I saw the title “Bubblerarian,” I knew before looking at the address that you were a librarian in Madison, Trent. Congratulations from a former resident and long-time user of the Madison Public Library System who is still getting used to saying “water fountain.”