I read a great quote that explained the difference between a Librarian and an Archivist while reading Marilyn Johnson’s book This Book is Overdue.
Q: How can you tell the Archivists from the Librarians?
A: Different Gang Colors.
So, with that little joke aside, I have to tell you that my heart warmed a bit yesterday when I read the Washington Post article on David S. Ferriero, the 10th Archivist of the United States (AOTUS) and the very first to actually be a professional librarian!! And, on top of being a real librarian… he also blogs!! See Ferriero’s blog “AOTUS: Collector in Chief” where he details some of the projects going on at the National Archives. And, in case David happens to read this post, there is an open invitation to guest blog on 3 Geeks anytime you want!!
There has been a lot of discussion lately about the value that a professional librarian (one with a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science), or whether the phrase “Professional Librarian” is an oxymoron. It was nice to run across this interview with the AOTUS where he specifically states why he thinks being a librarian brings value to the position he hold. Ferriero being a professional librarian “has provided me with a certain set of technical competencies around organization of information, but more importantly, thinking about an experience with users and how users interact with information. I’ve been in libraries through the introduction of technology up until current time — with the Internet digitization and creating digital content — and thinking about how we exploit technology for the same purposes and the user environment.”
Ferriero talks about what librarians are best at… and that is not just focusing on technology or just focusing on information, but rather finding that balance between the technology and information based upon the needs of the users. In addition, because Ferriero is an archivist, he is bringing the history of the United States out of the storerooms and basements across the country out into the public in a way that preserves our history and through the use of technology, digitization and user environment allowing not just a few select Historians access, but rather allowing nearly unlimited access to all. I really enjoyed reading Ferriero’s speech at his swearing in ceremony where he promised to work to make the National Archives “the best Agency in government.” Librarians of the world should sleep well knowing that one of our own is heading up the massive collection and directing the future of the US National Archives.