Interview with the Archivist

This was a wonderful interview between Paul Holdengräber (NYPL) and the Archivist of the United States (David S. Ferriero). It was very funny and I really enjoyed listening to the back and forth between the interviewer and the Archivist. It just so happens that they were boss and employee just a few months ago. It must have been an interesting workplace.

They recorded it so you can watch it when you get a chance. I recommend you do, its very entertaining.

I was having a lot of fun watching the interview so I didn’t really take a lot of notes. Here is what I wrote down:

He’s only been on the job for 5 months so he’s still learning. He’s got a lot to do. There is a declassification project the Archives are in the process of doing. They are in charge of declassifying a ton of documents going back to the 1940’s. Another project the Archives are working on is the Open Government Initiative.

Lesson from public libraries. Power of library to assist the people in broad ways. He would like to open the archives in a similar way so they will be available to a new group of people. They are targeting a new group of people they haven’t targeted before such as a new K-12 program and other educational opportunities.

He listens to kids! He talks to them while they are waiting in line to see the Declaration of Independence.

The archives keep the letters that people write to the president. They keep them at the presidential libraries. Three of his letters he wrote as a kid are in the libraries.

Staff morale is is pretty low at the archives. The regiona centers can be pretty mundane. He’s trying to make it better. Spend time with staff. Asking them to participate in the staff review process. Friending staff on Facebook and engaging them there. Hung out with the maintenence and security staff during the snow storms. Learned a lot about their dedication and quality. The guards have never had a tour of the archives he’s working on making that happen.

He’s currently reading Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Just finished a book about Walt Whitman by Robert Roper

It was a good session and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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