Friday, February 22, 2008

Bush Presidential Library

In an interesting decision announced today, Southern Methodist University (located in Dallas, Texas) will be the future home of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and policy institute.

Several institutions were in contention for this major "gift" that will enable the chosen university to bring considerable number of researchers and visitors to campus. Baylor, Texas A&M, Dallas University, and University of Texas were all in contention, however Baylor and Dallas University are within close proximity to SMU and both Texas A&M and University of Texas are close to the Lyndon Johnson library (and policy school) in Austin and the George H.W. Bush library in College Station, Texas.

Why is this decision significant? Well, there are a couple of things that stand out--one, this means friends of President Bush and Laura Bush (alumnus of SMU) will now concentrate on securing large donations for the library and, two, the regional location of the library "spreads the wealth," so they say, around the state of Texas in terms of presidential records and primary source materials.

Currently there are twelve presidential libraries operating under the National Archives and Records Administration. Regionally speaking, the West is largely disconnected with the NARA system (due to few presidents reigning from the West). There are two presidential libraries in Californian, those of Presidents Reagan and Nixon.

The Bush library will be the third for the state of Texas, not far from both the Clinton library in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Eisenhower library in Abilene, Kansas.

There are plenty of politics involved here, the most prominent in my mind being Executive Order 13233, issued by George W. Bush in 2001 restricting access to presidential records (not to mention the Presidential Records Act amendments of 2007). Who knows what the Bush library will be and if it will be, like the others, a mecca for historians, researchers, and political junkies.

At least they have a steps.


slfisher said...

How much space do they need for two coloring books?

Tara A. Rowe said...

Ha! True that!