presidential libraries

Is the Past Prologue or Just History?: Accessing Records at the Presidential Libraries

Abstract: After the creation of this first presidential library and continuing through the establishment of the other twelve presidential libraries in the system that is overseen by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), there have been many debates about the appropriate level of public access to these records.  This concept of access can actually be subdivided into four elements – physical access, in the sense of where the presidential libraries are located; intellectual access, in the more traditional archival sense of how quickly records are processed and what records are sealed; personal access, in the sense of what persons are granted the right to view the records; and electronic access, meaning the availability of records remotely via the World Wide Web.  NARA has received rampant criticism for its handling of these various elements of access, with the first three being problematic throughout the existence of the presidential libraries system and the last one emerging within the last two decades.  While some of these criticisms are valid, given the statutory, financial, and ethical constraints within which NARA must operate, the presidential libraries system has done an admirable job of preserving the records of the modern American presidents and making them accessible to the public.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. “The Prologue Is Past” | Courtney Bailey, MSLS
    Aug 09, 2015 @ 14:47:52

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