Getting to Know Elizabeth Villa, Archives Specialist, Ld 

Getting to Know ASC staff is a series spotlighting staff from the NMSU Archives and Special Collections department.  

color portrait of a woman with brown hair wearing a black and white striped shirt in an office

Elizabeth Villa, Archives Specialist, Ld

Background information:

My plan for college was to study business, for some reason I no longer recall, but during my senior year of high school I took a photography class—my first real art class since elementary school. I was hooked. I come from a family of artists, so maybe it’s in my blood. The summer before classes started, I changed my major from business to fine arts.

Aware of the struggles many artists face in their careers, I began looking for a back-up plan during my first senior year of college. I remembered working in my elementary school’s library checking in and shelving books—a rotating job that I think everyone looked forward to—and how much I enjoyed it. As an avid reader, I spent a lot time between classes holed up in one of the two libraries on campus reading books that were not assigned by professors. The summer before graduation, I found a student position cataloging books (a great way to find new reading material) and I’ve been here ever since.

My job in Archives and Special Collections (ASC) is a great balance between creativity and attention detail and allows me to utilize my artistic abilities. I truly enjoy the work I do here.

Role at NMSU Archives:

I work in what is known as the Reprographics Unit. I’m essentially responsible for our photographic and audiovisual materials. This primarily consists of digitizing photographs and making them accessible online in our photo database. If you need an image from our collections for your thesis, article, or just to hang on your wall, I’m your guy. In addition to my regular job duties, I’m often asked to create graphics, social media posts, videos, and more for the department and library.

 Educational background:

I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in photography and graphic design from NMSU in 2007. I also completed the Library Technology associates degree program at DACC in 2009.

color photograph of aerial view of Las Cruces looking north from campus

Aerial view of campus, looking north, undated, UA03020074

Previous archival experience:

In 2005, I was hired as a student aid in the cataloging unit of the Technical Services department at NMSU Library. I learned how to do copy cataloging and helped in repairs. After graduating, I was hired full time to oversee labeling, quality control, and repairs. In 2010, I moved to ASC in the position Teddie currently holds. I eventually made my way to the Reprographics Unit and took on my current position in January 2019.

Favorite item/collection in the ASC:

I like looking through the aerial photographs of Las Cruces across the years and seeing how the town has grown and changed. I try to spot my house and watch the neighborhood’s development.

Favorite experiences working in the ASC department:

color photograph of the Pacific Ocean with the coast line and trees in the foreground and background

Monterey Bay coastline, photo by Alexey Komarov

I really enjoy working with all the various photographic processes represented throughout our collections. We have glass plates, daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes de visite, stereographs, lantern slides, Polaroids, panoramas, and more.

Random fact people do not know about me:

I’m originally from central California. I moved to Las Cruces in 1999 and consider New Mexico my home now, but California still has my heart. If I ever win big in the lottery, I’m buying a beachfront property in Monterey Bay.


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