Head, Information Resources

Luke Swetland

Luke Swetland was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, the seventh of eight children. Both parents—who worked in nursing—stressed reading, and Luke developed a strong interest in literature. After working for a couple of years following high school (and after encouragement from workplace colleagues), he enrolled at the University of Nebraska—making him the first, but not the last, in his family to attend college. There he studied German language and literature before transferring to the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where he ultimately earned a degree in English. He spent part of his final year at the university's program on Nantucket Island, where he wrote his bachelor's thesis on Nantucket's Athenaeum Library.

After living in New Mexico for a year, he began graduate work in American Studies at the University of Michigan with a Mellon fellowship. He concentrated on American history and cultural anthropology, but by the time he was awarded his master's degree in 1989, he had decided to pursue a career in the libraries and archives field. After earning a master's degree in information and library studies, he was hired by the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, to reorganize the personal papers of Henry and Clara Ford. Over time he was given expanded responsibilities for the museum's research center; early in 1995 he was appointed head of Research and Access Programs, overseeing public access for all of the museum's artifact, library, and archival collections.

In the fall of 1996, Luke moved to Los Angeles, where he became the chief archivist and National Resource Center manager of the Japanese American National Museum. Over the next three years he was given greater programmatic and operational responsibilities, and in 1998 he was appointed deputy director and senior vice president of the museum. During his time there, the museum completed an ambitious building program, and the staff doubled in number.

During 2000, Luke was asked by the GCI to consult on the Institute's information management systems, and he was subsequently invited to consider joining the staff. Attracted to the opportunity to return to hands-on information management, Luke began work at the GCI in early 2001 and was shortly thereafter appointed head of Information Resources. Since coming to the Institute, he has focused on reorganizing services to better support and advance the work of the Institute's program staff, as well as on exploring new ways to provide information to the wider conservation community.