Senate uses library voice to confirm new Archivist of U.S.

The U.S. Senate must have used its collective library voice on Nov. 6 when it confirmed New York Public Library Director David Ferriero as the 10th Archivist of the United States. Few media outlets have covered the story but a detailed press release highlighting his experience is making its way around cyberspace.

"Mr. Ferriero was one part of the leadership team responsible for integrating the four research libraries and 87 branch libraries into one seamless service for users, creating the largest public library system in the United States and one of the largest research libraries in the world," according to the press release from the National Archives and Records Administration. "Among his responsibilities at the NYPL was the development of the library's digital strategy, which currently encompasses partnerships with Google and Microsoft, a web site that reaches more than 25 million unique visitors annually, and a digital library of more than 750,000 images that may be accesses free of charge by any user around the world."

Prior to joining the New York Public Libraries, Ferriero lead efforts to expand both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke University libraries.

President Obama nominated Ferriero last July, drawing a smattering of mostly positive responses in a range of blogs covering history, libraries and politics. A few comments to a post from the National Coalition for History expressed some concern that a librarian, rather than an archivist, had been tapped for the post. Washington Post blogger Al Kamen, meanwhile, noted that the job of Archivist "has become something of a lightning rod for controversy, particularly as various agencies and administrations press for keeping their records secret for decades despite strong pressures from historians and the public to declassify as much information as soon as possible."

The Washingtonian magazine is already optimistic that Ferriero will be a success, listing him on Nov. 2 on its "Guest List" -- a collection of people the staff would like to break bread with.

"The newly appointed US archivist, who headed the New York Public Library, comes here with a mission of transparency and openness," it wrote.


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