The 10th Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero this week announced that he will retire from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), effective in mid-April, 2022. A highly respected and celebrated library leader, Ferriero was appointed by President Barack Obama and has served as Archivist since November 6, 2009, presiding over one of the most consequential periods in the institution’s history.
In his 12 years leading NARA, Ferriero oversaw the the transformation of the National Archives into a leader in the government’s transition to a digital future, electronic records management, and was a strong advocate for the principles of Open Government. Under his leadership, NARA used technology to expand public access and engagement, forged strong relationships with partner organizations, and increased outreach to traditional and new stakeholders.
“Since his confirmation as Archivist in 2009, David has served with distinction, working closely with sitting and former presidents, and across the federal government, to ensure that our nation’s story is preserved and made available to future generations of Americans,” said President Joe Biden, in a statement. “From the administration of presidential libraries to undertaking initiatives to promote broader access to the Archives, David’s important work will benefit generations of Americans for decades to come.”
Former president Barack Obama also praised Ferriero’s service.
“Over the past 12 years, David Ferriero has guided the National Archives into the 21st century, and our democracy is stronger as a result,” Obama said. “David knows better than anyone that good recordkeeping is the backbone of open government, and under his leadership the National Archives was able to give these records new life through increased access and engagement with the American people. Thanks to his dedication, we are better equipped to draw from our past as we work to forge a brighter future.”
Before becoming the nation’s archivist, Ferriero served as the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries (NYPL), part of a leadership team that oversaw the integration of four research libraries and 87 branch libraries into one seamless service for users, and in the process creating the largest public library system in the United States and one of the most impressive research organizations in the world. Before joining NYPL in 2004, Ferriero served in top positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke University, where he led major initiatives including the expansion of facilities, the adoption of digital technologies, and a re-engineering of printing and publications.
In an announcement this week, Ferriero expressed gratitude to NARA’s employees for their dedication and hard work.
“My time at the National Archives gave me the opportunity to bring openness, access, and inclusion to the agency,” Ferriero said. “Working with such gifted and talented staff who are dedicated to preserving our nation’s records and its heritage has been a great honor and the highlight of my career. It is with gratitude for the staff at the National Archives, especially my Management Team, that I have pride in what we have all accomplished together.”
NARA Deputy Archivist Debra Steidel Wall will serve as acting Archivist of the United States upon Ferriero’s departure, until the President nominates and the Senate confirms a successor.
Ferriero’s departure also comes as the National Archives is deepening its commitments to access, equity, and in improving the “customer experience.” In a statement, Wall said that work will continue.
“We aim to continue down the path that David Ferriero has begun,” Wall said. “The National Archives’ latest Strategic Plan is dedicated to advancing equity and improving service delivery by connecting with and providing access to underserved and underrepresented communities. And while we are extraordinarily sad to see the Archivist depart, we could not be more grateful for his remarkable vision and exceptional leadership.”