You are most welcome, Michael. The Obama Presidential Center will have some museum
objects on loan from NARA and may use copies of some records but all the original Obama
presidential records will be held by, administered by, and processed for public access within
NARA, not in an Obama Presidential Center facility. There has been talk about a different
type of public library, not a NARA archival library, in the Obama Presidential Center.
I certainly understand why this is confusing outside NARA, given the agency's use of the
term through January 2016 for a traditional private Foundation constructed facility and the
often muddled reporting! There will be a type of equivalent to an Obama presidential library
within NARA's structure (its organization page refers to such) but it will be digital in terms
of access and all the original materials will be housed in existing NARA archival space.
News reporting centers on issues surrounding the Chicago Center. Some of this sounds
semantic but the key point is there will be no Obama Presidential Library constructed with
private funds and administered by NARA.
As I noted in my post about The Future, I've heard watercooler conversations about
alternatives to presidential libraries since I first joined NARA's staff in 1977. As NARA
official Meredith Evans notes in the essay I discussed in my post, reducing costs may have
been a factor in Barack Obama deciding basically to leave his records in regular NARA
facilities rather than constructing a separate library and museum and having the National
Archives administer them. The Obama vision is a new concept.
The former president's action doesn't surprise me, given discussion of various alternatives
going back to the 1970s. Early in his term, AOTUS David S. Ferriero noted that the then
present model for presidential libraries presents fiscal challenges, noting, "Right now, one-
quarter of the archive’s budget goes to the presidential libraries. If you look at the
projections out to 2030, it does not work. Something has to change."
You can read David's 2010 interview here: http://www.infotoday.com/it/may10/Drake.shtml
Thanks again, Michael!
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