National Archives News

Archives Celebrates Information Access

By Kerri Lawrence  | National Archives News

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2018 — The National Archives and Records Administration will host several events in observance of Sunshine Week, an annual nationwide celebration of access to public information. Events include an educational symposium, a week-long transcription challenge engaging citizen archivists, and a panel discussion.

Sunshine week graphic logo and display textSunshine Week 2018 at the National Archives will begin with a special program on Monday, March 12, 2018, at 1 p.m. in the William G. McGowan Theater in Washington, DC. Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero will kick off the event and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont will offer the keynote address entitled “Championing The Public’s Right to Know.”  Several breakout sessions featuring government leaders and experts will focus on innovation in the Federal Government, congressional digital engagement, and open data.

Alina Semo, Director of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), said Sunshine Week allows the National Archives to highlight how it is a leader in open government.

“We celebrate Sunshine Week every day at our agency,” she said. “From our work to make the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process more effective to our colleagues’ efforts to modernize our records management guidance, streamline the declassification process, and increase the impact of open innovation activities, the net result is improved public access to the records.”

In celebration of Sunshine Week, the National Archives will also sponsor a special citizen archivist mission focusing on transcription of the Pentagon Papers.   

During the week-long event, citizen archivists will “tag” records, applying meaningful keywords or labels to make content more discoverable and improving search results within the National Archives online catalog. As an increasing number of items and descriptions are tagged, other users can more quickly and easily find the information they seek. Through the collaborative power of the Internet, the agency has found a way to digitize more records and engage the American public to whom they belong.

To round out the Sunshine Week events, the National Archives will host a panel discussion entitled “Access and Transparency—Records Held at the National Archives” on March 14, 2018, at 2 p.m. in the William G. McGowan Theater in Washington, DC. The program focuses on how to request and access the restricted and non-restricted Federal records held at the National Archives. The panel of staff experts will discuss and answer questions about their work in making records available from our executive, legislative, and Presidential holdings.

The National Archives Sunshine Week events are free and open to the public, but registration is required for the March 12 event. The program will also be available via livestream from the National Archive’s YouTube Channel.

The Citizen Archivist Dashboard offers more information on how to engage in the transcription challenge.  

The American Society of News Editors launched the Sunshine Week initiative more than a decade ago and it has been embraced by journalists, librarians, concerned citizens, civil society organizations, elected officials, and government employees alike as an opportunity to discuss the importance of open government and its impact.  Agencies throughout the Federal and local governments will be offering Sunshine Week programming as well.