Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Are these NARA issues also LAC's?

The April edition of Information Today included an article A New Mission for the Librarian Archivist at NARA, an interview with David Ferriero, the recently appointed 10th Archivist of the U.S.

I was interested to read it as noted Toronto genealogist Brenda Dougall Merriman recently drew my attention to a Dick Eastman item in which he commented on Ferriero:

"He seems very interested in finding new and better ways of serving the agency's users."

"Unlike blogs supposedly written by a lot of other bureaucrats, this one is not full of puffed up press releases. David Ferriero apparently writes these articles himself and they seem to be full of interesting ideas and comments."

Two items in the interview caught my eye:

Q: When you arrived at NARA, what short-term challenges did you find?

A: I found seven main short-term challenges:

Item 6 on the list was: The engagement of our stakeholders in meaningful ways

Q: How are we progressing in digitizing legacy collections, paper, photos, and others?

A: We have partnership agreements with three commercial organizations to help us digitize major portions of our records. The agreements and overall digitization strategy can be found on www.archives.gov/digitization. It is an approach that the agency had taken before I came. They decided that the only way they could accomplish this task is to partner with Ancestry.com and others. I have concerns about these arrangements. The stakeholder community also has concerns. To the best of my knowledge, we have not investigated raising money or asking for money to do the digitization ourselves. This is open territory.

These challenges at NARA also exist at LAC, but are they are being addressed seriously? NARA has the advantage that Ferriero came to his leadership role from outside the organization without a history with decisions that may need rethinking.

Read the Information Today interview, and part 2 linked at the botton of that page which mentions LAC, at www.infotoday.com/IT/apr10/Drake.shtml

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