Q&A with retired Archivist of the United States David Ferriero

Ask David Ferriero your questions on Wednesday, October 4

As the head of the National Archives, former Archivist of the United States David Ferriero promoted the principle of open government, implemented greater access to government records, and created initiatives that involved the public in meaningful ways with its holdings. 

He will bring his unique perspective and knowledge to Bloomington, Indiana, on October 4, as Indiana University celebrates American Archives Month

At the free Q&A session held in in IU's historic Woodburn Hall, Room 100 (home to Benton Mural Cultural Panel 10), Ferriero is expected to speak about open government, presidential records and classified documents, and describe the key role archivists play in collecting, preserving, and sharing histories.  The question and answer session will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 and presented as part of the final IU Themester, Lux et Veritas – “Light and Truth.”

His campus appearance is presented by IU Libraries and its partners in the Luddy School of Informatics Information and Library Science Department, the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, and the Paul H O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. 

The National Archives and Records Administration annually welcomes 3 million visitors. Its vast collection of 13.5 billion pieces of paper, 700,000 artifacts, 448 million feet of film, 40 million photographs, 40 million aerial images, 10 million maps and architectural drawings, and 837 terabytes of electronic records document the Office of the President, Senate and House of Representatives, Department of Justice, and all the other offices part of the United States government. 

Ferriero, the Tenth Archivist of the United States, served in his role from 2009 until 2022, and was the first librarian to serve in that post. Previously, he was the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries and helped lead libraries at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., and Duke University in Durham, N.C. 


Sara Stefani, Modern Political Papers Archivist for IU Libraries, will moderate the session, while sharing the stage with Ferriero. She will ask questions and also draw from questions submitted in advance by people who register to attend. Some live questions will also be included. 

“We want to encourage members of the public and IU community to take the opportunity to hear him talk and to pose questions,” Stefani said. “I think it’s going to be fascinating and interesting to hear from him as the person who once provided guidance on presidential papers and how to make the (presidential) transition happen as smoothly as possible. To have his perspective on what’s been happening will be beneficial to people in the community at large.” 

Dina Kellams has an oval face, dark curly hair, dark glasses, and blue eyes.

Dina Kellams, director of IU Libraries University Archives, expects his presentation will have broad interest, especially because of the current attention to public records. “I think this will appeal to not only those in archives and library science, but also those interested in history, government information, and political science,” said Kellams. 

When brainstorming how to participate in IU’s Themester program, many University Archives staff members said they had heard Ferriero speak and believed he was engaging and frank, she said. Kellams thought people would be interested in hearing him discuss the importance of archives and records and how they hold government accountable to the public and society. “We thought he would be a wonderful fit with this theme of light and truth,” Kellams said.

Ferriero, who retired in April 2022, served under Presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden. During his tenure, Ferriero made it a priority for the National Archives and Records Administration to provide more transparency and to encourage public participation and collaboration. The agency embraced social media tools to reach a wider audience and created a crowd-sourcing initiative, called the Citizen Archivist program to involve the public more in transcribing and describing the National Archives’ holdings. 

During his four-day visit to Bloomington, Ferriero will engage with Luddy School graduate classes, library student employees, as well as campus and Bloomington community archivists and librarians.

A graphic is presented to welcome David Ferriero, tenth archivist of the United States to Bloomington Indiana.  Several logos representing IU departments are featured on a dark governmental background image.