Michelle Light, Candidate for Council

Professional Experience: Head of Special Collections, Archives, and Digital Scholarship, University of California, Irvine Libraries, 2008‒present. Archivist, University of California, Irvine Libraries, 2007‒2008. Head of Special Collections Technical Services, University of Washington Libraries, 2005‒2007. Assistant Archivist, Northeastern University Library, 2001‒2004. Archivist, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Libraries, 1999‒2001.

Education: MS, Information (Archives and Records Management), University of Michigan, 1999. MA, History, University of Michigan, 1997. BA, History, University of Oregon, 1995.

Professional Activities: Society of American Archivists: Editorial Board for The American Archivist, 2008‒present. Technical Subcommittee for Descriptive Standards, 2007‒2008. Description Section Newsletter Editor, 2005‒2008. 2006 Program Committee, 2005‒2006. Boston Host Committee, 2003‒2004. Key Contact Representative, 1999‒2001.

Publications:  “Moving Beyond the Name: Defining Corporate Entities to Support Provenance-Based Access,” Journal of Archival Organization 5, nos. 1‒2 (2007). “Evidence of Sanctity: Record-keeping and Canonization at the Turn of the 13th Century,” Archivaria 60 ( Fall 2005). Co-authored with Tom Hyry, “Colophons and Annotations: New Directions for the Finding Aid,” The American Archivist 65 (Fall/Winter 2002).

Presentations and Workshops: “Designing a Born-Digital Archive,” SAA (2010). “The Endangerment of Trees,” EAD@10, sponsored by RLG and SAA (2008). “Preservation 101: Tips for the Household Archivist,” multiple venues (2007‒2009). “UC Irvine Libraries Tests the Archivists’ Toolkit,” Society of California Archivists (2008). Workshop Co-leader for “Implementing Describing Archives: A Content Standard,” Society of California Archivists (2007 and 2008). Session Chair for “The Impact of the USA PATRIOT Act on Archives and Archivists,” SAA (2004). “Functional Appraisal for University Records at Yale,” SAA (2001). “Putting Provenance to Work: Capturing, Recording, and Delivering Contextual Description at Yale,” SAA (2000).

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Questions posed by the Nominating Committee: Taking into account SAA’s strategic priorities, in which specific initiatives would you take a leadership role? How would you go about implementing these given the competing priorities of the organization while remaining responsive to members and their needs?

SAA has supported me throughout all stages of my career. Every year, I find something new and exciting in the annual meeting programs, sections and roundtables, publications, educational offerings, and networking and leadership opportunities, to propel my professional growth and interests. SAA is foundational for me, and this respect for SAA would guide my service on Council to represent the archival community. As SAA seeks to achieve its strategic priorities relating to technology, diversity, and advocacy, I would ensure that the organization remains continually relevant to the needs of early, mid, and late-career professionals.

I would provide effective leadership for the following strategic initiatives:

  1. Electronic records. I would support a coordinated, multi-faceted program to prepare archivists to manage electronic records in a rapidly changing environment. I am eager to evaluate and expand the digital archives specialist curriculum, and I would push to make more best practices and case studies available. Also important is SAA’s role in promoting standards.
  2. Diverse communities. I would promote the development of tools to help archivists diversify the documentary record, work successfully with diverse communities, and manage archives from many cultures with sensitivity and respect. To accomplish this, archivists must be sensitive to the different value systems and communication styles of the communities with whom they work. I would support SAA’s efforts to help archivists better manage cultural property, but also emphasize the need to help archivists communicate and work more effectively with different cultures.
  3. Value of Archives. I would advocate for the development of a toolkit to help archivists demonstrate the value of their archives to key stakeholders and funders. While the value of archives may be self-evident to us, in order to compete for resources in this economic climate, we must craft a compelling message about our value and impact to appeal to resource allocators. ACRL’s recent report on the Value of Academic Libraries provides a model for how SAA might do this. SAA’s public awareness campaigns about the value of archives are important, but SAA might also help archivists assess and show measurable achievement within their own institutional contexts.

While Council provides vision and direction for SAA, SAA’s committees, task forces, sections, and roundtables carry out these goals. To work with these groups, I would listen to both new and seasoned voices, collaborate, communicate, and stay focused on SAA’s mission. SAA has profoundly shaped me as a professional, so I would be most honored to serve on Council.