Fellow: Stephen E. Novak

Stephen E. Novak, head of archives and special collections at the Columbia University Medical Center, 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.

Novak earned a master of arts in history degree from New York University. Throughout his career, Novak has worked in an array of archival repositories with increasing levels of responsibility. In his first professional position as a field archivist at Seton Hall University, Novak conducted on-site surveys of historic and current records in institutions across New Jersey. In that position, Novak “immediately exhibited several traits that have characterized his archival career ever since,” one supporter wrote. “Rather than focus narrowly on his own particular project, he demonstrated a wide-ranging curiosity that extended to every aspect of archival administration.” Later, as archivist at The Julliard School, Novak took on the daunting task of establishing an archives and records management program at the institution. He not only accomplished this task, he also helped produce an award-winning guide to the collections and made the archives a vital part of the organization. Novak has held his position at the Columbia University Medical Center since 1997 and is responsible for administering all aspects of the collection, which includes the archives of the Columbia University Medical Center and a rare book collection of 27,000 volumes.

Novak also has taken an active role in several groups within SAA. Perhaps most significant is that he was one of the founders of the Lesbian and Gay Archives Roundtable (LAGAR), a group that has become a strong voice within SAA for the concerns of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered (LBGT) collections and archivists. Novak was an enthusiastic member of the LAGAR committee that oversaw the creation of Lavender Legacies (1998), the first formal and comprehensive guide to primary source material relating to the history and culture of LBGT people held by North American repositories. Novak also has served on SAA’s Science, Technology, and Health Care Roundtable’s Steering Committee and as a co-chair.

“[Novak] has been a constructive contributor to the archival scene in New York City for approximately thirty years and also has made his mark on the national level,” one supporter wrote. “He has left behind a better program at every institution he has worked at, and he advocates for archives at every opportunity with style and enthusiasm.”

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