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The Society of American Archivists to honor NIU’s Cindy Ditzler and Joan Metzger

July 2, 2012

NIU’sFounders Memorial Library Cindy Ditzler and Joan Metzger are the 2012 recipients of the Spotlight Award from the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award will be presented at a ceremony during SAA’s Annual Meeting in San Diego, August 6‒11, 2012.

The Spotlight Award recognizes the contributions of individuals who work for the good of the profession and archives collections—work that does not typically receive public recognition.

Ditzler, NIU’s university archivist, and Metzger, the assistant university archivist, are being recognized for the valiant work they accomplished for the good of the archival collections at the university’s Regional History Center. Specifically, they demonstrated extraordinary commitment to preserving the documentation of a tragic event on NIU’s campus on February 14, 2008, when a gunman killed five students in an auditorium, injured 21 and then shot himself.

Despite the overwhelming emotional pain experienced in the aftermath, Ditzler and Metzger immediately went into action to document the unfortunate event as well as the ensuing grieving process and memorials.

The Regional History Center worked with an NIU history class and the nonprofit group StoryCorp to collect oral histories. They gathered and preserved hundreds of items from “spontaneous memorials” that emerged on campus. And they developed a supplementary website to display memorial artifacts, which ultimately became a central place for the campus to share, grieve and learn.

Their nominator wrote, “Their humble work went beyond any formal job description and far exceeded the expectations of an archivist.”

Past recipients of the Spotlight Award include Ann Russell of the Northeast Document Conservation Center and Alan Harris Stein of the Chicago Oral History Roundtable.

Founded in 1936, the Society of American Archivists is North America’s oldest and largest national archival professional association. SAA’s mission is to serve the educational and informational needs of more than 6,000 individual and institutional members and to provide leadership to ensure the identification, preservation, and use of records of historical value. For more information, visit