David Ferriero

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David Ferriero
David Ferriero official photo.jpg
Archivist of the United States
Assumed office
November 6, 2009
President Barack Obama
Donald Trump
Deputy Debra Steidel Wall
Preceded by Adrienne Thomas (Acting)
Personal details
Born David Sean Ferriero
(1945-12-31) December 31, 1945 (age 72)
Beverly, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma mater Northeastern University
Simmons College

David Sean Ferriero (/ˈfɛri/;[1] born December 31, 1945) is a librarian, a library administrator, and the 10th Archivist of the United States. He was Director of the New York Public Library,[2] and before that, the University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University.[3] Prior to his Duke position, he worked for 31 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology library.[4] Ferriero is the first librarian to serve as Archivist of the United States.[5]

Education and personal life[edit]

Ferriero grew up in Beverly, Massachusetts, and graduated from Beverly High School. He earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in English Literature from Northeastern University.[6]

Ferriero's education was interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He served as a Navy hospital corpsman assigned to a Marine unit in Danang, Vietnam, and on a hospital ship, the USS Sanctuary, in Vietnamese waters.[7]

After the war, Ferriero approached his studies differently; he believes that he was "much more focused at that point".[6] Following his military service, he earned an additional master's degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College.[8]

Marriage and family[edit]

Ferriero married Gail Zimmermann, the daughter of MIT Professor Emeritus Henry Zimmermann.[9] She has developed an independent career in broadcasting as Associate General Manager of UNC-TV in Durham, North Carolina.[10] Before moving to North Carolina, she worked with WGBH-TV in Boston.[7]


Ferriero at WikiConference USA 2015 at the National Archives

MIT Libraries[edit]

Ferriero was Associate Director of Public Services at MIT Libraries.[11] His MIT library career spanned 31 years.[12]

Duke University Library[edit]

Ferriero was the Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University from 1996 through 2004.[13] Ferriero was the first Duke university librarian to address the members of the university's Board of Trustees in person.[14] He was actively involved in the evolution of North Carolina's Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN).[15]

New York Public Library[edit]

Ferriero was the Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of the Research Libraries at the New York Public Library (NYPL) from 2004.[16] In 2007 his role expanded with additional responsibilities as director of New York Public Library's (NYPL) Branch Libraries.[2] He was responsible for the management and operations of NYPL's Research Libraries since 2005[3] and the Branch Libraries since 2007.[2] He presided over a major restructuring, which was accompanied by elimination of some positions and the creation of new ones.[17] Ferriero argued that transformation was imperative as NYPL adapted to the profound cultural and societal developments affecting the future of libraries.[18] His initiatives at NYPL engaged the nascent disciplines of digital asset management.[19]

Ferriero prioritized staff recruitment, retention, training, development, and compensation;[20] and he made it a point to try to visit the main reading room every day, assessing the varied needs of NYPL patrons.[21]


Ferriero was the NYPL's Partner Representative[22] in OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), which with its member libraries co-operatively produces and maintains WorldCat—the OCLC Online Union Catalog.[23] During Ferriero's tenure, the library stopped using the unique "Billings classification system" for its reference books in the Rose Reading Room (main reading room) (the classification system is named for John Shaw Billings, the former NYPL librarian who devised and introduced it in the nineteenth century).[24][25]

Google digitization partnership[edit]

The NYPL joined the Google Books Library Project during Ferriero's tenure.[26][27] Google and major international libraries have agreed to making collections of public domain books available for scanning to be offered to the public online, without charge.[27][28]

National Archives and Records Administration[edit]

Ferriero keynoting at Wikimania 2012

On July 28, 2009, President Obama nominated him to be 10th Archivist of the United States.[29]

An early October confirmation hearing was scheduled by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. According to the subcommittee chairman, Senator Thomas Carper of Delaware, Ferriero's quick confirmation by the Senate was never in doubt.[30]

David Ferriero giving opening address at 2011 Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit

Ferriero used the public occasion to express his view that the National Archives is at a "defining moment with regard to our existing electronic records, social media communications, and emerging technologies being used throughout government offices." He also noted "issues of collection security, the future of the Presidential Library system, backlogs in processing, staff job satisfaction, stakeholder relationships, preservation and storage needs."[31]

He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 6, 2009;[32] he was sworn into his new office on November 13, 2009.[33]

President Obama appointed Ferriero to simultaneously head the new National Declassification Center, which "has been given four years to go through 400 million pages of federal documents that remain top secret. They date to World War I."[34]

Relationship with Wikipedia[edit]

As part of his tenure at the National Archives, Ferriero has taken an active interest in working with Wikipedia, of which he has called himself "a huge fan".[35] When questioned about the National Archives's engagement with Wikipedia, his response was "The Archives is involved with Wikipedia because that's where the people are."[36] Under Ferriero's aegis, the National Archives has worked with the Wikimedia Foundation since 2009, having had a Wikipedian in Residence as well as uploaded thousands of images to Wikimedia Commons. He has quoted a blogger in saying: "If Wikipedia is good enough for the Archivist of the United States, maybe it should be good enough for you."[35][37]



  1. ^ David Ferriero's name is pronounced FARE-E-O, according to "Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing on Archivist of the U.S. Nomination," Archived 2010-01-30 at the Wayback Machine. National Humanities Alliance, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Oder, Norman. "NYPL Reorganization Coming," Library Journal (October 1, 2007). Vol. 132, Issue 16, p. 12;
  3. ^ a b "David S. Ferriero Named Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of The Research Libraries at The New York Public Library" (press release). April 26, 2004.
  4. ^ Kamen, Al. "A New U.S. Archivist: David Ferriero," Washington Post. July 28, 2009.
  5. ^ Ruane, Michael E. (December 7, 2009). "Sharing a sense of history: Ferriero is first librarian in charge at National Archives". The Washington Post. washingtonpost.com. pp. B01. Retrieved December 7, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Nyul, Renata. "U.S. Senate confirms alumnus as U.S. Archivist", Northeastern University Office of Marketing and Communications. November 6, 2009.
  7. ^ a b Donner, Nancy and Caroline Oyama. "David S. Ferriero Named Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of The Research Libraries at The New York Public Library, NYPL Press Relations. April 26, 2004.
  8. ^ "Duke's Ferriero to head NYPL Research Libraries," Library Journal (May 15, 2004). Vol. 129, Issue 9, p. 13.
  9. ^ Shapiro, Jeffrey H. (March 23, 2007). "In Memorium: Professor Henry J. Zimmermann, 1916-2007". rle AT MIT. Archived from the original on June 26, 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2016. , Press Release
  10. ^ Washburn, Mark. "Funding Runs Low at Public Broadcasters," Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina). April 14, 2009.
  11. ^ Ferriero resignation Archived 2008-08-21 at the Wayback Machine., MIT Libraries Annual Report 1997-1997.
  12. ^ Northeastern University Alumni Affairs web site Archived 2010-04-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "Duke Librarian David Ferriero to Join New York Public Library: Robert Byrd, director of the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, will serve as Duke's acting university librarian after Ferriero's departure." Archived 2007-06-14 at the Wayback Machine. Duke press release (2004).
  14. ^ "University Librarian Addresses Board of Trustees," Duke University Libraries, 17:2.
  15. ^ Oder, Norman. "Consortia Hit Critical Mass," Library Journal (February 1, 2000). Vol. 125, Issue 2, p. 48.
  16. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence. "Arts briefing; Highlights -- Literary Lion." New York Times. April 26, 2004.
  17. ^ "NYPL head = Natl. archivist; New Catalog, Restructuring," Library Journal (August 1, 2009). Vol. 134, Issue 13, p. 11.
  18. ^ Ferriero, David and David Offensend. "Transforming NYPL," Library Journal (May 15, 2008). Vol. 133, Issue 9, p. 12.
  19. ^ DeAenlle, Conrad. "Digital Archivists, Now in Demand." New York Times. February 8, 2009.
  20. ^ Oder, Norman. "NYPL: Synergy on the Way?" Library Journal (February 1, 2005). Vol. 130, Issue 2, pp. 18-19.
  21. ^ Koppel, Lily. "Offering Enlightenment, or Just a Little Peace," New York Times. December 27, 2007
  22. ^ Partner Representatives, OCLC web site
  23. ^ OCLC described, OCLS web site Archived 2008-06-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ "NYPL gives up Billings," Archived 2008-09-30 at the Wayback Machine. BiblioTech Web. August 22, 2006.
  25. ^ Chan, Sewell. "With a New Classification System, the New York Public Library Makes a Change for the Clearer," New York Times. August 17, 2006.
  26. ^ Google Library Project partners
  27. ^ a b New York Public Library + Google
  28. ^ Library and Information Technology Association, "Contracting for Content in a Digital World"
  29. ^ Office of the Press Secretary (July 28, 2009). "Presidential Nominations sent to the Senate, 7-28-09". The White House. Archived from the original on July 30, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  30. ^ US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing, October 1, 2009: Nomination of David S. Ferriero to be Archivist of the United States National Archives and Records Administration.
  31. ^ "Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing on Archivist of the U.S. Nomination," Archived 2010-01-30 at the Wayback Machine. National Humanities Alliance, 2009.
  32. ^ Miller, Jason. "Senate confirms Ferriero to be next Archivist," FederalNewsRadio. November 6, 2009.
  33. ^ "David Ferriero Sworn in as 10th Archivist of the United States," NARA Press Release. November 13, 2009.
  34. ^ Archives director wants you to have access Archived 2010-01-17 at the Wayback Machine.. News & Observer.
  35. ^ a b The ed17, "Young chapter shows experience beyond its years", accessed 17 July 2012.
  36. ^ Dominic McDevitt-Parks, "How does NARA avoid conflicts of interest on Wikipedia?" NARAtions: The Blog of the United States National Archives, 27 September 2012.
  37. ^ Wikimania 2012 Closing Plenary on YouTube by David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, see especially (15:00-16:00), and (22:50 - end).
  38. ^ a b c d e f PLUS Coalition, David Ferriero


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Adrienne Thomas
Archivist of the United States