Earlier today, our new Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero made his first “State of the Archives” address, and the text is now available online. It seems very similar to the remarks he made at the hearing before the Senate committee, except that I don’t believe he included this topic on that earlier occasion:
The Internet has introduced countless researchers to the holdings of the National Archives. While it is thrilling that the desire for online information brings more and more people to our virtual doors, I know that the task of building an “archives without walls,” so to speak, is a demanding one. An important part of our effort must be developing the means for archivists to interact with our virtual visitors, and figuring out how archivists work in a virtual archives â€“ what skills are needed, and how work processes will change. I applaud the work you have done to establish NARAâ€™s presence on the world-wide web, and your successful launches of social media and networking tools such as You Tube, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook to reach new audiences, capture useful information, and receive timely feedback on programs and holdings. Web 2.0 technologies are powerful communication tools, and I know that our recent initiatives are just the tip of the iceberg of what is yet to come in this area.
He’s right that there’s a much bigger iceberg of possibilities for NARA to explore, and I look forward to seeing what kind of agenda he sets for building NARA’s “archives without walls.” And we’ll all be keeping an eye on the further development of the Electronic Records Archives, of course.