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Archives.gov Goes Gov 2.0

Screenshot: archives.gov

Don’t call it a comeback. They’ve been here for years.

What, specifically?

The data stored in the National Archives and Records Administration. Or, what more quaintly used to be referred to as simply archives. And, now they’re easier to search for than ever, following a redesigned NARA website.

The Archives.gov website is the public face of a year-long series of changes: from an enhanced social media presence, a revamped Federal Register website and a new Archives researcher wiki space.

  • A new homepage selected by user feedback
  • Interactive map of Archives locations nationwide
  • Streamlined access to historical documents and military service records, which 81 percent of Archives website visitors said they were looking for
  • Sections organized by topic, which focused on the needs of both everyday browsers and experienced researchers
  • Links to social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Archives blogs

The No. 1 goal, according to Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, was making the site more usable.

“It’s essential for the National Archives to have a user-friendly online presence,” he said. “We hope to reach new audiences while still engaging our long-time users, researchers and visitors. This redesign . . .  reflects the ongoing effort to engage the public and make records of the National Archives easier to find and use.”

The new website is “cleaner, features clearer organization of content and loaded more quickly on my mobile device,” noted Gov 2.0 reporter and blogger Alex Howard wrote on Gov Fresh.

In addition, “The search field, one of the critical features of any modern website” – and one of the indications of the new user-friendly site – “is larger and raised to greater prominence in the redesign,” Howard wrote.

Ferriero has some experience bringing an archaic vestige of the past into the Gov 2.0 future. After all, he was the first archivist with a Twitter page and a Facebook presence.

In a New York Times profile earlier this year, Ferriero laid out his big goals for Archives.

How many digitized records should be available online? The New York Times postulated. “If I had my way,” he replied, “everything.”

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