The New York Times reports that the National Archives has hired a new “Collector in Chief” to oversee the nation’s heritage. David S. Ferriero previously held positions at both the MIT and Duke University libraries, and served as the Andrew W. Mellon director of the New York Public Libraries. Ferriero had no plans to leave New York, but the White House convinced him that “his talents dovetailed with the administration’s goals for the archivist’s job.”
Ferriero believes that each time his career has transitioned, it has “always been that I could make a difference.” This time, the difference likely comes from his stance on managing an archives, which he views similarly to managing a library. “When you cut to the quick . . . it’s the same: collecting, protecting, and encouraging the use of records and information.” Encouraging use means making information available, and for an administration that has pledged transparency, that mindset seems paramount to the job.
Archiving, like most things these days, has been taken over by the digital revolution. And while Ferriero notes that there are challenges to digital record keeping, it does help with ease of use, as it allows for online accessibility. Ferriero, in fact, believes that anything that can be digitized should be put online, thus contributing to his end goal, which is “to ensure that we have the user at the center of our thinking—historians, genealogists, open government folks. What can we do to make their lives easier?”
The History Factory couldn’t agree more. In 2009 the company launched LuminArc, a Web-delivered digital archive system compatible with advanced Web 2.0 standards for interconnectivity and interactivity. Realizing our clients could get considerably more use out of their archives if they were able to access the material from anywhere and at any time, we created a system that not only offers this option, but also constantly updates, so information is accurate and timely.
Just like the government, companies that make their archives accessible and encourage its use, can create transparency, and trust, within the organization.