Presidential Libraries

Are they valuable archives or wasteful monuments?


Ever since the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, presidential papers have been collected in individual libraries for use by scholars and the general public. Usually located near the president's birthplace, the libraries also house museums that highlight the president's accomplishments. The National Archives administers the sites, but presidents have to raise the funds to build the libraries and help pay for operations. With the growing volume of paper and electronic records, archivists need many years to finish processing documents. Besides the lag in gaining access to records, some historians complain that the museums go too far in glorifying each president instead of presenting objective historical accounts. Congress has also been concerned about the growing size and cost of the facilities, including fund raising while presidents ...

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