Tim Naftali will head the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives starting in mid-January, Carol Mandel, dean of NYU Libraries, recently announced.
Naftali, whose appointment was announced on Nov. 12, will also serve as the co-director of NYU’s Center for the United States and the Cold War and associate director of the Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Center.
“I was very excited by the opportunities of rejoining a university community,” Naftali said. “The Tamiment Library is an important resource to study American political history, and I saw a great opportunity in becoming its director.”
Naftali was previously the first federal director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, and Mandel said his new position is very important to the university.
“Tamiment Library is one of the most distinguished special collections in the country devoted to the history of left politics, labor and social protest movements,” Mandel stated in a press release. “Scholars from around the world look to its collections to shed new light on issues from workers’ rights to the fight for academic freedom to women’s history and much more.”
Naftali said he plans to start a number of new archives at the library.
“One of the things that attracted me to this job is that we are so close to Stonewall [Inn],” Naftali said. “It is particularly meaningful to me, and NYU has excellent programs in LGBT studies, but there is not [a] central collecting point for information on the LGBT civil rights struggle,” he said.
Additionally, Naftali plans on adding archives about women’s reproductive rights and feminist movements.
Daniel Lightfoot, a Gallatin sophomore, said he hopes the new archives will be a progression in recognizing the importance of universal liberation.
“Tamiment, in my experience, has been a treasure trove for those pursuing an enriched understanding of social movements in the United States,” Lightfoot said. “However, it cannot entirely escape the historic trivialization of the struggles of queer folks, women and those living without the bounds of heteronormativity which has occurred within the ivory towers of the West.”
Gallatin junior Sinéad Day said she has not used the Tamiment archives yet, but the new archives will be helpful for her senior project, for which she also plans on using the Riot Grrrl archives in the Fales Collection.
“I am planning a senior project that would greatly benefit from [Naftali’s] additions,” Day said. “I’m really excited that NYU is planning to pursue new acquisitions.”
Naftali said he hopes to expand Tamiment’s resources to a larger student body, that he wants more NYU students to appreciate the information the library has to offer. He said the addition of new archives will be a draw for more students.
Naftali also said he wishes to make the library’s content more iPad- and iPhone-friendly.
“Our archives, these days, should be as virtual as they are physical,” Naftali said. “It’s going to take some time. It will take resources, and it’ll take some hard thinking about how to prioritize digitization and how to make it more accessible.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 25 print edition. Kavish Harjai is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected]