Presidential Library System Analysis

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Presidential libraries have a split personality. The reason for this behavior is due to its dual functions, all but one (Gerald Ford) of the 13 current libraries house both an archive and a museum. The archives are for researchers who are looking for historical documents, while the museum is focused on the more casual visitor seeking information about the president. This duality of purposes requires a more synthesized look at the presidential library system for information seekers. The majority of the literature written in scholarly articles about the presidential library system breaks down into three major topics, concerns about access to presidential documents, the cost of the library system as being unsustainable, and the biases
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Hall (2009) recounted the history of the presidential library system. The original presidential library was constructed in 1939 under the direction of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The purpose behind the library was for the American people to have a better understanding of history through the papers of the president. In 1955, the Presidential Libraries Act created the system that allowed the building of presidential libraries that were federally managed. Originally, the papers of the president were considered personal property of that president. In 1978, the Presidential Records Act made all papers that dealt with the duties and ceremonies of the president the property of the US government. The Presidential Libraries Act of 1986 set the amount of endowment required for the construction of the library. The most common presidential document is the Executive Order. However, with the advent of e-mail and other forms of electronic messaging, these types of digital communications will soon eclipse all other forms of documents in the archives (p. …show more content…
Bush library seven percent, and the Clinton Library 300,000 documents, or less than one percent of its collection in five years. The presidential documents that are being processed must be checked for six criteria that places them in the presidential 12 year restricted access exemption and for eight possible Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions. Although, in certain cases, NARA with consultation with former presidents have been able to achieve early release of documents from the presidential 12 year exemption. FOIA requests require heavy documentation. One example is the Reagan Library, it has a FOIA backlog of around 4-5 years. Executive orders (E.O.) from Reagan, G.W. Bush and Obama have also created backlog issues with FOIA

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