David S. Ferriero has been nominated by President Obama to be the 10th Archivist of the United States. He is seen above in the Main Reading Room at the 5th Avenue and 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library. (Photo by Joyce Dopkeen for The New York Times.)
The President has nominated David S. Ferriero to be the Archivist of the United States. The position was created in 1934 when Congress established the National Archives as an independent federal agency. The thirteen presidential libraries will be part of his portfolio. Mr. Ferriero will replace Allen Weinstein, who held the position from 2005 and resigned for reasons of health in December. During the interim, Deputy Archivist Adrienne Thomas served as Acting Archivist.
Mr. Ferriero comes to NARA from the New York Public Library where, since 2004, he has been Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of the Research Libraries. Previously he was the University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University. Thirty-one years earlier he began as a shelver in the Humanities Library at MIT; when he left there for Duke, he was the Associate Director for Public Services and Acting Co-Director of MIT’s Libraries.
Mr. Ferriero is a 1972 graduate of Northeastern University. When he was appointed to the NYPL position in ’04, he sat down with Northeastern’s Alumni magazine:
Last September, David Ferriero was named the Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of the Research Libraries at the New York Public Library. David is responsible for the operations and overall management of the Research Libraries, including public service, cataloging, conservation, automation, and collection development. The Research Libraries annually serve 1.7 million people onsite and comprise four centers with combined collections containing 43 million items. David came to the NYPL from Duke University, where he is credited with bringing its libraries into the electronic age. Prior to joining Duke, David had a 31-year career with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries, which began as an NU co-op position.
A big easy chair beside one of the windows in Dodge Library. That was my favorite place to study.
I particularly enjoyed Shakespeare with Joe Westland and English Literature with Jane Nelson. I learned a lot from both of these courses, including the fundamentals of research. The professors were phenomenal.
If it hadn’t been for Nancy Caruso, an advisor in NU’s Co-op Department, my life would have been very different. During my sophomore year, Nancy sent me to an interview at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries. That was the start of my 31-year career at MIT. It was Nancy who first made the connection between my education major and working in libraries.
How NU prepared him for the future:
Northeastern provided an outstanding liberal arts education, which has served as the foundation for my career. It was through the co-op program that I was first introduced to libraries. Co-op is important in that it gives you the opportunity to develop competencies that you simply can’t get in the classroom.
The most interesting aspect of his job:
Research libraries today are focusing on how technology can transform the way we acquire, disseminate and create information. The New York Public Library is currently working with Google to determine if we can digitize our library. I am excited to be involved in that experiment.
The most challenging aspect of his job:
The New York Public Library is a huge organization with 89 libraries, 53 million items in the collection, and 3,000 people on staff. Working on such an enormous scale can be a challenge at times.
What motivates him and why:
The feeling that I can make a difference in organizations that are ready for a change, such as Duke University and the New York Public Library. I enjoy leading that change.
The expansion and renovation of the libraries at Duke University.