Why Obama's Library Won't Have Original Documents

His library will be the first to forgo National Archives funding
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2017 10:00 AM CDT
Obama Sets Out to Break the Mold With Presidential Library
A northern view of the proposed Obama Presidential Center, depicting the museum, forum, and library.   (The Obama Foundation)

President Obama's Chicago-based presidential library will differ in one big way from the 13 other presidential libraries that exist around the country. The Chicago Sun-Times reports the Obama Foundation plans to foot the $675 million startup bill for the center through fundraising, forgoing financial support from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). It was confirmed on Thursday that Obama's library will not be part of the NARA system, which liberates it from NARA requirements related to endowments and architectural design. The move also means the library will not house original documents from the Obama White House, with the Chicago Tribune reporting they'll instead find a home in NARA's facilities. The library will opt for a more modern solution with digital records from the Obama administration.

NARA provides $65 million total in funding yearly to other presidential libraries, and Obama's library will miss out on that, though the Tribune explains that in the long run the Obama Foundation that will amass the funds for the library could come out ahead financially. On the money front, the Obama Foundation on Thursday released an economic impact assessment report that looks at the impact the library, set to open in 2021 in the South Side's Jackson Park, is projected to have. The proposed Obama Presidential Center—comprised of the library, a museum, and forum—will generate over $2.1 billion for South Side businesses during construction and its first 10 years of operation, reports Crain’s Chicago Business. (More Barack Obama stories.)

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