Social media, record-keeping and open government

ICEGOV coverage

David Ferriero is the 10th Archivist of the United States and Head of the National Archives and Record Administration, including the Presidential Libraries.  The collection includes some 12 billion pages and 40 million photos and now holds all Federal Government tweets.  We explore the linkages between open government and record-keeping public data as well as how social media is challenging the notions of what defines a ‘record’.

Our mantra has been from the very beginning that you can’t have open government without good records management.

This interview comes a day after the opening of the National Archive’s first Office of Innovation.  The Archivist – or “Collector-in-Chief” – discusses large-scale public record-keeping in the digital era and offers advice for smaller libraries and public collections.  Mr Ferriero also declares his well-known enthusiasm for using social online channels to push archived content and digital assets to ‘where the people are’, including his Wikipedian-in-residence initiative.

About David Ferriero

David S Ferriero is a librarian, library administrator, and the 10th Archivist of the United States. He was Director of the New York Public Library; and before that, he was the University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University. Prior to his Duke position, he worked for 31 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology library. Ferriero is the first librarian to serve as Archivist of the United States.

National Archives and Records Administration

On July 28, 2009, President Obama nominated David Ferreiro to be 10th Archivist of the United States. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 6, 2009; and he was sworn in to his new office on November 13, 2009.

Ferriero used the public occasion to express his view that the National Archives is at a “defining moment with regard to our existing electronic records, social media communications, and emerging technologies being used throughout government offices.” He also noted “issues of collection security, the future of the Presidential Library system, backlogs in processing, staff job satisfaction, stakeholder relationships, preservation and storage needs.”

President Obama appointed Ferriero to simultaneously head the new National Declassification Center, which “has been given four years to go through 400 million pages of federal documents that remain top secret. They date to World War I.”

Other career highlights:

  • MIT Libraries: Ferriero was Associate Director of Public Services at MIT Libraries. His MIT library career spanned 31 years.
  • Duke University Library: Ferriero was the Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University from 1996 through 2004. Ferriero was the first Duke university librarian to address the members of the university’s Board of Trustees in person. He was actively involved in the evolution of North Carolina’s Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN).
  • New York Public Library: Ferriero was the Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of the Research Libraries at the New York Public Library (NYPL) from 2004. In 2007 his role expanded with additional responsibilities as director of New York Public Library’s (NYPL) Branch Libraries. He was responsible for the management and operations of NYPL’s Research Libraries since 2005 and the Branch Libraries since 2007. He presided over a major restructuring, which was accompanied by elimination of some positions and the creation of new ones.
  • Cataloging: Ferriero was the NYPL’s Partner Representative in OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), which with its member libraries co-operatively produces and maintains WorldCat—the OCLC Online Union Catalog. During Ferriero’s tenure, the library stopped using the unique “Billings classification system” for its reference books in the Rose Reading Room (main reading room).
  • Google digitization partnership: The NYPL joined the Google Books Library Project during Ferriero’s tenure. Google and major international libraries have agreed to making collections of public domain books available for scanning to be offered to the public online, without charge.
  • Relationship with Wikipedia: As part of his tenure at the National Archives, Ferriero has taken an active interest in working with Wikipedia, of which he has called himself “a huge fan”. When questioned about the National Archives’s engagement with Wikipedia, his response was “The Archives is involved with Wikipedia because that’s where the people are.” Under Ferriero’s aegis, the National Archives has worked with the Wikimedia Foundation since 2009, having had a Wikipedian in Residence as well as uploaded thousands of images to Wikimedia Commons. He has quoted a blogger in saying: “If Wikipedia is good enough for the Archivist of the United States, maybe it should be good enough for you.”

Mr Ferriero is a Co-Chair and speaker at the  ICEGOV 2012 conference - hear his sneak preview (5 mins) of the conference here.

Biography source: Wikipedia
Feature images courtesy David Ferriero

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