Fellow: Michelle Light

Michelle Light, Director of Special Collections at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries, will be inducted as a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) during a ceremony at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and SAA in Washington, DC, August 10–16, 2014. The distinction of Fellow is the highest honor bestowed on individuals by SAA and is awarded for outstanding contributions to the archives profession.

Light earned master of science in information and master of arts in history degrees from the University of Michigan. Light has held important positions of progressive responsibility at five repositories over the course of her fifteen-year career. In each of her professional roles, she has had a transformative impact on her repository, advancing it in new strategic directions. In her first professional position as an archivist at Yale University, she developed a database of archival authority records for Yale University units that informed her contributions to the international group that created Encoded Archival Context. Later in her career, Light broke new ground at the University of California–Irvine. Working as the head of Special Collections, Archives, and Digital Scholarship, she implemented a virtual reading room that allows researchers near and far to access born-digital records. She also led a multicampus taskforce in creating “Guidelines for Efficient Archival Processing.” Within the first year working in her current role, Light has established infrastructure to sustain an ambitious collecting program to document the Southern Nevada region, completed a staff reorganization that will allow Special Collections to work more effectively, and carried out a strategic planning process that set direction for her division and contributes to the UNLV Libraries’ aspirations.

Light has served SAA in a variety of leadership positions, including an active role on the American Archivist Editorial Board as well as on the Council, for which she played a critical role in the group’s efforts to create a new strategic plan for SAA.

“Light is one of the most creative and accomplished archivists of her generation, and her achievements have had a lasting impact on the field,” one supporter wrote. “Her intelligence, creativity, work ethic, collegial nature, scholarly aptitude, and commitment to archives are of the highest level.”

Light is one of five new Fellows named in 2014. There are currently 179 Fellows of the Society of American Archivists.