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University of Michigan School of Information


Michelle Light

A headshot of Michelle Light

Michelle Light, director of the Library of Congress’ Special Collections from 2019-2021, was appointed Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and Beinecke Library Director at Yale University in 2021. Formerly she was director of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The Special Collections Directorate comprises six Library of Congress curatorial divisions that have extensive unique or rare holdings: the American Folklife Center (including the Veterans History Project), the Geography and Map Division, the Manuscript Division, the Music Division, the Prints and Photographs Division and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. The Special Collections Directorate is part of Library Services.

Light’s professional career in libraries spans 28 years and includes positions of progressive responsibility: head of Special Collections Technical Services at the University of Washington; head of Special Collections, Archives and Digital Scholarship at the University of California, Irvine; and director of Special Collections and Archives at UNLV. Her service in these positions reflects extensive hands-on and management experience in such areas as special collections technical services, collection development, digital programs, public service and outreach programs and fundraising. 

Light has been very active in both the archival and rare book arenas. For example, she is a frequent presenter at conferences and other events sponsored by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and was a participant in the Association of Research Libraries Leadership Fellows Program (2018-19). Her publications include articles such as “From Responsible Custody to Responsible Stewardship” (2019), “Controlling Goods or Promoting the Public Good: Choices for Special Collections in the Marketplace” (2015) and “Colophons and Annotations: New Directions for the Finding Aid” (2002). She is also the co-author of the book Selecting and Appraising Archives and Manuscripts, part of SAA’s Series III, “Archival Fundamentals.”

Light’s educational background includes a BA in history from the University of Oregon’s R. H. Clark Honors College. She earned an MSI in archives and records management and an MA in history from the University of Michigan.