A seeming consensus about a definition for “citizen archivist” and the continued need for a different term (also, a brief discussion of one of the next big challenges facing archives)

The previous post about the use of the term “citizen archivist” generated a lively discussion, and I think achieved some consensus–although we shall see if the comments on this post bear out that conclusion!

I think everyone more or less agreed that a valuable component of the archival community consists of what can accurately be called “citizen archivists”–that is:

people who take responsibility for carrying out archival functions for records or papers that are either their own personal property or which are currently not under the custodianship of an archives or archivist. [my phrasing]

people working _outside_ established institutions who are doing archival-quality work (not simply collecting), typically in an area that is neglected or inadequately addressed by established collections. Citizen archivists collect and add value to records of significance, many of which ultimately find their ways into institutions. [Rick Prelinger’s phrasing]

People may vary in their love for the term as used in that sense, but it seems to me that was the usage that most commenters agreed with. Certainly I think everyone agreed that the work these kinds of people do is a critical part of the archival community (writ large) and most of us would welcome their company under “the big tent.” (See previous discussions here and elsewhere about the professional identify of archivists and how big a tent we should have.)

I also believe that most of the participants in the discussion agreed that it was not appropriate to use “citizen archivists” to refer to what in the pre-digital world we would have called volunteers. While recognizing the value of people who work on transcribing records, photocopying or scanning materials, helping to identify or date photographs, writing supplementary materials for finding aids, or initiating and carrying out special project to make materials more accessible, we agree that it is not appropriate to refer to these people as “archivists” in any sense. Again, the work of these people is critical to success of the archival community, and to say that they are not archivists is not meant to devalue their contributions, it’s just a statement of fact. Some of this discussion referred to the continuing need to improve public understanding of the work of professional archivists, and indeed, the need to raise awareness of the need for professional archivists to exist. While stated or not, I think this conversation is linked to the heated discussions that have taken place in many venues about the need to increase the salaries being offered to archivists, and the associated issues of education, credentials, and professionalism.

As archives begin building new online communities around our collections and encourage the participation of volunteers in all kinds of activities–such as transcribing, tagging, adding descriptive or contextual information, creating mashups, and building new interfaces and tools for working with our information–we will encounter many challenges. I am certain that coming up with a suitable term to call our new kinds of volunteers will not be the most difficult! But it is representative of one of the central challenges, and that is the question of authority. I see this issue as being a particularly challenging one for many archivists–what is our role, as professionals and as custodians of the materials, in these new online communities? How can we encourage participation and appropriately value and respect the contributions of the public without devaluing our own knowledge and institutions? This is not an insolvable problem and it is not unique to archives; it faces many kinds of cultural and knowledge-based institutions as they engage in more sophisticated interactions with their user communities.

How to answer this question will be the subject of many future scholarly articles (and, as I said, a chapter in the book I’m editing for SAA) and the answer will not be the same for all archives. It is certainly too large to take on in a blog post.

However, the issue of what to call our valued online volunteers is not. If we accept that David Ferriero, perhaps along with other archival managers, needs to find a new, more appealing term to use instead of “volunteers,” what should that be?

– Archival collaborators?
– Citizen historians? (will that raise the hackles of historians, I wonder?)
– Citizen scholars? (the Smithsonian has used that one)
– Subject experts?

My creativity is flagging. Any suggestions? You may rightly ask why we need to have an umbrella term at all. My response is that Mr. Ferriero has a new blog post up, calling for “Cultivating Citizen Archivists.” I don’t want to drag this discussion over onto his post, since his purpose is to generate discussion about what kinds of projects people might want to pursue as . . . archival collaborators/citizen historians/subject experts and I don’t want to detract from that. I appreciate what he’s trying to do, and the kind of conversation he’s trying to generate with the public. Let’s help him out a bit by giving him a better way of making his pitch.

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38 thoughts on “A seeming consensus about a definition for “citizen archivist” and the continued need for a different term (also, a brief discussion of one of the next big challenges facing archives)”

  1. “the issue of what to call our valued online volunteers”

    the important point is that no matter what you call us, we’re probably not going away.

  2. Nicely done … personally, I LIKE “archival collaborators” but then I had no problem with the use of the term “volunteer” (especially after my experience working with them at what used to be called the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village).

  3. And we don’t want you to! We want more people like you. But, since the question has been raised, what do you think we should call people who start projects like yours?

  4. Two thoughts.

    First, not all involved in these activities are citizens, per se. They may be foreign nationals. And in many aspects, citizenship is irrelevant to the activity. They may be members of a community that is not a nation; they would be members, not citizens. Which suggests the word “community.”

    Second, as I read the precis, it includes people who are building personal archives — not just those who are helping established repositories as volunteers. They are more than collectors because they follow (to varying degrees) archival principles of respecting context, worrying about authenticity, and preserving some aspect of cultural memory. So volunteer doesn’t fit, IMHO.

    “Para archivist” is possibly a bit obscure, and my sense is that paraprofessional is perceived of as being demeaning in libraryland. “Lay” archivist suggests the profession is a religion, which it is, for some.

    What about community archivist?

  5. I’m not sure that I agree with the consensus that “we agree that it is not appropriate to refer to these people as ‘archivists’ in any sense” – particularly the “any sense” part.

    I’m not sure it will do the community (or salaries) much good to paint with such a wide brush and use such absolute terms.

    In several forums I’ve suggested that we need to think more carefully about the continuum of participation that online social media provides us. My thought are particularly informed by Robert Stebbin’s work on serious leisure (http://www.soci.ucalgary.ca/seriousleisure/). Archivists might consider the Spring 2009 issue of Library Trends (http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/library_trends/toc/lib.57.4.html), that discusses the connection between leisure and information sciences (certainly some useful things there for your chapter).

    Perhaps the task isn’t finding a new name to label every “non-archivist”, but in understanding how archives can better engage people from the most casual tagger to the most serious “volunteer.”

  6. I think “citizen archivist” is a fine way to describe what Carl and others like him are doing. There seems to be some concern about devaluing the term “archivist,” or overstating what these volunteers do, or both. It strikes me a little like well-established encyclopedias worrying that Wikipedia will undermine the value — or worse, the authority — of their work. People quickly learn the limitations of any given collection, so I don’t think there’s really a terminology problem that needs solving. The more people we have amassing collections of public data, the better, because that means more raw materials for true experts to work with down the road.

  7. What about “archival associates?” That would get around the word archivist, which the types of volunteers Mr. Ferriero is referring to are not. Yet it would link them to the job as people who contribute and help, but as individuals associated with the institutution’s mission, rather than as employees.

    I read the new post at AOTUS and didn’t see any awareness of your earlier blog post. I hope Mr. Ferriero did have a chance to read it. Hard to tell. His new post is geared towards non-archivists, it’ll be interesting to see how they react in terms of what they’d like to work on. As to the term, Mr. Ferriero might be in a locked in position regarding the use of citizen archivist for reasons we can’t see. I might have been projecting more flexibility for him on its use and his ability to change it than he really has, who knows. We don’t know who in the agency is advocating what and what’s at play and at stake, in terms of managers jockeying around, etc.

  8. P.S. Meant to add that citizen historian might get into the same issues as citizen archivist does, given that there is an OPM 170 classification for federal historian just as there is for federal archivist. See the write-up for type of work and levels of responsibility for the highest level described (GS-14) at
    The section at the beginning which explains how the work of federal historians differs from that of archivists is useful, too.

  9. P.P.S Apologies for big-footing the forum here, I have a lot to work on to day so I’ll just post one more thought. Did you notice in his new post how Mr. Ferriero referred to NASA’s use of the term “citizen scientist?” I was thinking of how he continues to use the term citizen archivist, without acknowledging or responding to points you raised in your good postings here at Archivenext. In my experience, when someone does that, it sometimes means he has been tasked with doing something and doesn’t have the ability to change the parameters. It could just mean he didn’t have time to read the discussion or here or found it unpersuasive.

    I may overthinking this, but it is possible that executive agencies and departments have been tasked by the White House or OMB with encouraging citizen engagement and that they have been asked specifically to all use the term citizen in describing such volunteer activities so as to link to a government wide initiative. Look at the White House press release at
    and you’ll see a strong articulation of belief in citizens’ service. Granted, the context is different. But it is possible that what we’re seeing here goes beyond NARA. Given the tight budgets that federal agencies face, it is possible that the WH has directed agencies to tap in to resources outside the permanent civil service. I could be wrong – this isn’t the type of initiative the WH or OMB necessarily would micromanage to that extent and Mr. Ferriero actually may have some discretion after all in the term he uses. But if there is a coordinated effort throughout the executive branch to seek out opportunities for Americans’ engagement and collaboration, it is possible that someone has pushed the citizen meme on the agencies, for so doing. Just a thought, triggered by Mr. Ferriero’s use of the term citizen scientist and his posting a follow up blog post which tracks carefully with his comment in the first one, but doesn’t acknowledge any of the issues raised here.

    OK, that’s more than enough from me, it’s almost 7:30 and I have to get ready to go do my real job!

  10. What about “passionate amateurs” an idea previously discussed http://archivesnext.com/?p=228. I really liked this term, despite the use of the word ‘amateur’ which can have bad associations. I think if we want a replacement for ‘volunteer’ it needs to be something that gets across the passion and enthusiasm that volunteers have for the collections and also the expert knowledge they often bring to specialist subjects. Do we have different categories of volunteers – pro, expert, specialist?

    Is there an archive equivalent for a ‘bibliophile’?? Would that work?

  11. If what RPM is getting at is that we need more nuance to the description and interaction of people “doing archives”, I couldn’t agree more. The conversation currently seems to fall into (not exactly but often pretty close) a binary archivist/non-archivist world.

    As for the new term. How about demiarchivist?

  12. Re: Kiara’s comment, “amateur” is a word that I think ought to be rescued from its pejorative sense. If that’s not possible, how’s “vocational” doing these days?

    Volunteers > “Assistants”?

  13. Oh GOOD GRIEF, folks!

    Are we, those of us who are in the profession, such passive/aggressive wimps that we can’t stand up and say “NO!”?

    We’ve been working with volunteers for years, dagnabit, and we have benefited greatly from their support. RECOGNIZE the volunteers for WHAT they are: VOLUNTEERS working in/with/for the archives.

    Have some professional pride for once and stop pussyfooting around … let Ferriero know who are and what we are called, and that volunteers are VOLUNTEERS regardless of hidden political agendas!

    Sheesh …

    /me slopes away for more caffeine …

  14. I think Kate is right in that most of us value citizen input and participation so there isn’t a split on that. Maybe those of us who are feds are more cognizant of the OPM job classification standards and their implications. Mr. Ferriero may not know (mercifully or otherwise) about the sometimes tedious archivist and librarian debates that have occurred in the past. We can try to educate him about some of that from outside, just as people on the inside can do so. I think the focus here on Kate’s blog really is on how to encourage collaboration and what terms best suit that goal. The issue of engaging citizens, either in encouraging them to use the Archives, or soliciting input, predates the digital age. When the National Archives and Records SERVICE still was a part of the General Services Administration, the GSA Administrator pushed the line “NARS makes me tingle.” Seriously. It’s one of the titles in Bob Warner’s book, see
    http://www.amazon.ca/Diary-Dream-National-Independence-1980-1985/dp/toc/0810829568 We used to chuckle about that one. . . .

    Given that Mr. Ferriero was so on task with his initial post, the comment he posted under it, and his second post, I don’t see much likelihood that he will modify the phrase “citizen archivist.” I could be wrong but that’s my finger in the air sense of this. Whatever the circumstances, I think it is an agreed-upon term which he will continue to use going forward. If he engages at his blog on the issues Kate has raised here in two blog entries, then we’ll know he has some potential wiggle room on what term he uses. If he doesn’t, he probably has none. I can live with that. And he obviously has a lot on his plate. If this is a locked in term for him, our debate will remain interesting but more of an academic exercise than it seemed initially.

    Question: NARA benefits from some volunteers who are retirees from its ranks. Volunteers make up a mix of people who’ve never been employed there and some who once did. Is that the case at other archives? I’m assuming it is in some cases but haven’t ever asked.

  15. I agree with Dennis. Clearly, volunteers are not archivists. Nonetheless, their contribution is invaluable to the archival community. I believe they should be named after what attracted them to do such work in the first place: a love for history and archives. So, boiling it down, you should get a history volunteer or an archives enthusiast.

  16. Well, what the fudge, Dennis?! I don’t think the bulk of the discussion here is about volunteers. Just saying.

  17. Well, I’m going to jump in one last time since I think I was the first to push back on Kate’s proposition that we need a new term.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Rick’s comments; and I really like what Melissa says about collaboration.

    As Richard Pearce-Moses says, ‘volunteers’ refers to something wholly different. A volunteer attaches him/herself to an existing organization or project. I have worked with dozens of volunteers over the years, and I have been one as well (as a professional, BTW). I would never use the term citizen archivist to describe these folks.

    ‘Citizen archivist’ has caught on because it’s catchy and taps into a sensibility that transcend formal training per se, evokes work that springs organically from the grassroots, personal passion and often from other disciplines and a lot of creativity; It is evocative not prescriptive. There is a man named Clayton Patterson who has been documenting and collecting the Lower East Side of Manhattan for several decades (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/arts/design/25patterson.html). Among other identities such as photographer, documentarian, activist, amateur historian, why not call him a ‘citizen archivist?’ He’s not looking for a job at NARA. No one at my organization will confuse him with me. What *is* a problem (hypothetical) is if my boss takes some underperforming file clerk and sticks them in the archive because they have no idea what an archivist does or knows.

    To me ‘citizen archivist’ is no different than ‘amateur archivist’ ‘volunteer archivist’ ‘archivist-in-training’ – all are qualification of the A-word, each with a slightly different connotation.

    As a final note, this discussion has put me in mind of a remark by Sam Kula, formerly of the National Archives of Canada, that he used to get asked if he was a “real” archivist – because he worked with moving image recordings rather than printed matter. I doubt he’s the only one.


  18. I don’t accept the premise that we need a new term. IMHO **citizen archivist** honors those whose contribution–in Grace’s lovely words, “springs organically from the grassroots, personal passion and often from other disciplines and a lot of creativity”–is completely in the spirit of what we all do as **professional** archivists.

    And Kate, I’m astonished that you would offer “citizen historian” as an alternative! Though whether the hackles of historians are as easily raised as those of archivists, I dunno. 🙂

  19. “T’ … the fudge has nuts.

    Actually, the subtext of all of this IS about volunteers … none of the folks doing that work are being paid for it … so again, call a shovel a shovel and a volunteer a volunteer. As Jackie Dooley has just pointed out, we don’t need a new term.

    Sloppy logic, sloppy language, reap the results.

  20. Grace–I’m confused because the example you gave of Clayton Patterson would be exactly what I’m saying is a citizen archivist. That person is creating a personal collection to document something he is passionate about. That meets the definition Rick and I put forward.

    Jackie–My tongue was just a teensy bit in my cheek when I proposed “citizen historian.”

    And, jeffpar, you observed that this is “like well-established encyclopedias worrying that Wikipedia will undermine the value — or worse, the authority — of their work.” Well, um, didn’t it? Hasn’t Wikipedia basically replaced them? You also wrote: “The more people we have amassing collections of public data, the better, because that means more raw materials for true experts to work with down the road.” Collections of copies of public data are a fine thing, as you point out, as long as there is no confusion that these are a substitute for properly managed and preserved archival collections. How unreasonable is it to think that Congress might question spending millions of dollars to fund NARA when there are so many “citizen archivists” preserving copies elsewhere? That’s an exaggerated and somewhat ridiculous scenario, but I’m not sure I’d say it’s an impossible one.

    What’s critical for me about this conversation is that it supports Richard’s observation that “we need to think more carefully about the continuum of participation that online social media provides us.” Thank you for that wise observation, Richard, and also for providing those links as well.

    It’s been a busy morning over on Twitter, with @benwbrum observing:

    “Seriously, amateurs care more about respect for their work than respect for their role.” and “And most care about the respect for their work being appropriate, not over-grand or belittling.” He also provided a link to this discussion of the term “professional historian,” noting that the links were especially valuable: http://civilwarcavalry.com/?p=411

    This is clearly not an issue that can be resolved in any sense since everyone has their own sense what “citizen archivist” means to them. (Which was, after all the question posed by Ferriero over on his blog, which started this whole thing.)

    Issues of professional identity, authority, and of course, terminology are always complex and guaranteed to spark discussion. Once again, thank you everyone who has contributed his or her thoughts so far.

  21. I like “archival collaborators”.

    Your point about needing a term at all is interesting. Is our only reason as a profession to label these people one of self-interest? Does it take away their agency for us to impose a term on them that they don’t use to refer to themselves as? If they want to call themselves archivists, perhaps our efforts are best directed at educating the public about the standards and education an archivist must meet…

  22. Good point there, Kate, about the issues of professional identity, authority, et alia, as RPM and I (as well as some other names I recognize) have witnessed/experienced on the Archives and Archivists listserv lo, these many years now.

    It’s gonna be a long haul, but that’s also no reason not to remain passionate and reasonable about the issues. I’m delighted that a librarian has been chosen to lead NARA and that he is engaged enough to be concerned about recognizing efforts being made to care for the materials. But keep the pressure on…comment on his blog. Speak up and speak out. Professionally, all LAM workers are notoriously quiet about what we do and now we have someone who is clearly not that norm and we need to capitalize on it.

    Thanks, Kate, for providing a space in which to have the discussion.

  23. Heh. Sounds like some sort of community activist slogan. As Jackie and Grace just pointed out, citizen archivist is a good term, a new term, and it is different than a volunteer.

  24. Hi S,

    Well, actually, the only reason this issue came up at all is because Ferriero asked the question and then has continued using the term. Otherwise I don’t think I would have seen the need.

    We’re talking about a very broad range of potential contributors/collaborators/whatever. They don’t necessarily think of themselves as having any kind of label, and certainly I don’t think they would all agree on the same one either.

    As I said earlier, in a way this whole conversation is academic. It’s not as if any consensus we reach here (even if we were able to) would have any kind of influence. People will use the terms they want to use, regardless of whether archivists like it or not.

    What is important, as I said above, is that I think this does provide an opportunity for examining, as Richard observed, the need for a larger, or different, kind of continuum of participation in the archival community.

  25. Very interesting topic and comments. From my own perspective, as someone whose patrons are primarily from the journalism profession, I can tell you that my reporter colleagues have fallen prey to the term “citizen journalists” much to their professional peril. Jobs in the news media have hemorrhaged due in no small measure to the notion that any citizen with a laptop computer can be a journalist. I think the term “citizen archivists” devalues the archival profession in the same way.

  26. If the focus is NARA, I don’t see much of a control and authority issue here simply because part of what happens during the life cycle of federal records is mandated and part is discretionary, in terms of who does what. I know I would have been happy to hand off to citizens or volunteers after I had finished the mandatory part.

    Handling federal records is a straight forward process up to a point. After that, any number of things can occur. The first part is funded through the appropriations process. That’s not going to change, although $ amounts will vary. Officials working in federal departments and agencies create records while carrying out governmental functions. Those records are retained or destroyed as prescribed by the Federal Records Act under records management and retention scheduling. This first part of the life cycle of records is internal, governmental and takes place behind a wall. The only way the public can access the material is through the filing of FOIA requests or in the discovery process in discovery. The image of citizens working to preserve information assets is attractive and we’re all grateful for those that do it. But they don’t play a part in federal RM except to the extent to which they email or snail mail departments and agencies. That they can’t otherwise affect the RM part of the life cycle in no way diminishes what they do in other areas.

    The next step is NARA’s accessioning, describing and reviewing the federal records that are permanent. People working for the government or as contractors for the government assess material to ensure that statutory restrictions, including protection of grand jury information, federal law enforcement information, national security information, etc., are applied. This, too, takes place behind a wall because the law requires that (exposure, need to know, etc.) Of course, classified only makes up a small part of NARA’s holdings. However, other general and specific restrictions apply. As a lawyer for the Department of Justice once remarked, attempting to use private citizens to screen presumptively classified material is “contrary to government policy and practice” and that “a more preposterous, unlawful scenario cannot be imagined.”

    Finally, the records are released in part or in full for public viewing. That is the point where volunteers and amateurs and citizens enter the picture: at the distribution point. They can work on digitization or transcription or crowdsourcing or whatever. That’s the point in the continuum that we’re discussing here. I don’t see that as much of a control or authority issue because the pre-release handling of records doesn’t overlap with or duplicate anything the public can do. For the agencies and for NARA, handling those parts is non-discretionary.
    Federal workers have to slog through the pre-distribution work. Just a guess, but I think most of them would welcome assistance with the post-distribution part. Perhaps there are some for whom this might become a control or authority issue. I can only speak for myself. I know I would have welcomed citizen assistance with digitizing, scanning, distribution, crowd sourcing, etc. during my archival career – without a thought to authority.

    The government part prior to release is pretty straightforward and depends on two professions: records manager and archivist. Citizen participation after the release point is so varied, it really isn’t possible to come up with a generally accepted term for it.

  27. Aha, Jennifer Howard wrote about this, interesting! Congratulations, Kate. That being the case, I’ll amend one sentence to clarify. I was going to let it go but what the heck. I wrote above that ”I know I would have welcomed citizen assistance with digitizing, scanning, distribution, crowd sourcing, etc. during my archival career – without a thought to authority.” I don’t mean by that that I wouldn’t have considered quality control and verification issues. I mean I wouldn’t have looked at citizen assistance in a competititve light. Take crowd sourcing, for example. There are a lot of government photos which lack full identifiers. My dad was a federal employee just as I am. He was a radio scriptwriter for the Estonian service in the Voice of America (part of the United States Information Agency) during the 1950s and 1960s. If NARA held USIA/VOA photos in which he and his colleagues were pictured, and USIA only had captioned them “Estonian language broadcasting service, 1965,” I would love be able to provide identifiers of the people, all of whom were known to me and my family. (I’m not saying there are any such photos, only that he worked for a federal agency a long time ago.) There are many citizens out there who could provide such very useful information and service to NARA. And as Mr. Ferriero notes, their post-release role with some materials also could include providing contextual information based on specialized knowledge they hold of the activities or events pictured. Look at the extremely arcane stuff I sometimes discuss. There are a lot of knowledgeable citizens out there. Whatever they’re called, they definitely can help add texture and context to some NARA held materials.

  28. One thing to remember is that terms take on meaning through use, not by a committee and frequently not based on logic or a rationale. “Citizen” is being used in a variety of contexts, including citizen journalism and citizen scientist. So, it’s no wonder that we get citizen archivist. At some point, the phrase will either disappear because it’s not terribly useful, or it will come to represent an idea that may have little to do with our attempts to synthesize a definition from the separate parts.

  29. Good point, RPM. I would add to that that when the federal government is involved, terms don’t always evolve organically. Some of them are artificial constructs, used along a reporting chain as part of message unity but largely ignored or used with an asterisk by those outside that hierarchy if they don’t buy into it. (Think of how much more frequently you hear people refer to a personnel office in natural conversation, outside formal issuances and publications, rather than to a human capital ofice.)

    The citizen archivist term has the feel of something NARA is going to keep using no matter what. That’s because I sense a calculated rollout in its use, linked to the Open Government initiative and to its strategic plan (which only superficially refers to people issues). That’s the way feds do things often so it’s not a big deal to me becaue I sense what’s going on. I’m outside the NARA structure and can use terms that feel more organic to me. The important thing is that we largely agree on the concept that lies behind the terms: the value of tapping into outsiders’ expertise and desire for collaboration with NARA.

  30. The illustrious Richard Cox has posted a comment over on Ferriero’s blog, re-posted here for your convenience (http://blogs.archives.gov/aotus/?p=144#comments):

    I believe that the concept of the citizen archivist is critically important for the archival profession to embrace and to nurture, as I wrote about in a recent book. However, in terms of NARA, I guess I feel more inclined to see it become a proponent of archives for citizens, where accountability, evidence, and corporate and societal memory are more strongly emphasized. Transparency, collaboration, and participation are great goals, but I submit that the notion of “Collector in Chief” seems contrary to such concepts and more supportive of old, antiquated concepts that have plagued NARA for a long time. Appraisal is different than collecting, and appraisal is the responsibility of this pre-eminent archival program.

    Despite being a bit critical here, I am after all an academic, I applaud you opening up with a blog. Good luck with this!

  31. I think that “citizen archivist” works well enough. Descriptive not prescriptive. “Citizen archivist” is already in use, so go with it.

    Kind of sounds like a superhero too.

  32. It looks like NARA is formalizing its use of “citizen archivist” with the launch of a Citizen Archivist Dashboard (news story here and NARA slides PDF here) so maybe its time to revive this debate. If professional archivists use the dashboard, what do we call them? Whatever the case, now we know how curators feel.

  33. Hi Jefferson,

    Yes, well, we knew the ship had already sailed but now it’s like the Love Boat, it’s got it’s own primetime show and theme song. As for the reviving the debate . . . I’m mulling it over and will get back to it in in the new year. I’ve got some more thoughts about it but they need to be put into better order before presenting them. As I’ve said before (I think), I don’t want to detract from the good work that’s being done by seeming to quibble over something that’s a done deal. But, yes, words like “curator/curate” and “archivist/archive” are now bandied about so broadly that almost anything can be described with them.

    Thanks for following up,


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