President Obama Nominates David S. Ferriero To Be Archivist of the U.S. (updated)

On July 28, President Obama announced his intent to nominate David S. Ferriero to the position of Archivist of the United States. Mr. Ferriero currently serves as the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries (NYPL). Mr. Ferriero succeeds Professor Allen Weinstein who resigned as Archivist last December.

The New York Public Libraries is one of the largest public library systems in the United States and one of the largest research library systems in the world. Mr. Ferriero is responsible for collection strategy; conservation; digital experience; reference and research services; and education, programming, and exhibitions. The NYPL has 2600 full-time employees and a budget of $273 million. Prior to taking the Director position in June 2007, Mr. Ferriero served as the Chief Executive of NYPL’s Research Libraries for three years.

Mr. Ferriero was formerly the Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University. Mr. Ferriero joined the staff of Duke University in 1996. He began his career as a Junior Library Assistant at the the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries, where he spent 31 years, leaving in 1996 as the Acting Co-Director of the MIT Libraries.

Mr. Ferriero has a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Northeastern University, and an M.S. from the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

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7 thoughts on “President Obama Nominates David S. Ferriero To Be Archivist of the U.S. (updated)

  1. He is NOT an archivist, has not been trained as one, has little or no understanding of materials in an archives and manuscripts collection. There are much better choices out there.

  2. David is a great choice to lead the National Archives. Experienced in managing complex organizations, knowledgeable of archives and libraries, articulate and engaging, he will do well. I wish him the very best in this important position.

  3. David is a perfect choice to become the Nation’s National Archivist. He is people oriented and understands the importance of providing and preserving information in the 21st Century. Those of us in the library world wish him well.

  4. Those of us who have worked with him feel that David is an incredible choice. He has breadth of vision, a strong commitment to freedom of information, experience leading complex bureaucracies, the ability to identify and tap into the talents of those on his staff, and the gift of being able to communicate with and inspire people ranging from multi-millionaires to the guys on the loading dock. He also thrives in stressful positions such as this one.

  5. As an archives and records management professional, I feel quite disappointed that our national leaders continously fail to appoint Archivists of the United States who possess respectible qualifications as a professional archivist. Being an exceptional librarian does not by default qualify one as an exceptional archivist and vice versa. While the media has reported on Mr. Ferriero’s outstanding qualifications as a librarian, I have heard little discussion of how he is prepared to grapple with uniquely archival issues and challenges; there is more to being a good archivist than being an outstanding manager. This is disappointing; I hope to be pleasantly surprised despite my reservations.

  6. Mr. Ferriero should do very well as Archivist of the US. We learned a long time ago that it isn’t essential to have an archivist in that position; nor that having a well known archivist in the position is a guarantee of success. What is needed as a minimum is a person with significant management experience and skills. That in no way excludes professional archivists, but it doesn’t mean that “only archivists should apply” either. Further professional experience and skills are all the better. John Carlin was extremely successful as Archivist, especially in reprsenting NARA’s interests with the White House and Congress. NARA did very well during his tenure budget wise. While he did exercise his influence over internal NARA stategy and operations, he had the advantage of a highly trained and seasoned professional archivist, Lew Bellardo, as deputy Archivist. It would seem that Carlin had his major focus on the external world while Bellardo kept the store running smoothly. Mr. Ferriero is a professional librarian, a profession in my view that does a great deal better job of advocacy than its sister archivies profession. If he is representative of his profession in that way, he’ll have the right stuff for this job. The current Acting Archivist would certainly back him up very well in her former deputy post. And let’s not forget that in the modern world of digital information, there is much to be said about virtual integration of NARA and LOC digitized finding aids and some aspects of their collections. Our neighbor Canada made a big step in that direction a few years ago with the institutional integration of its corresponding institutions in Library and Archives Canada. There are many things short of institutional integration that can go a long way toward achieving better integration of their information assets.

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