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Once the Obama Presidential Center is constructed, it will have a children’s play garden, sledding hill, green spaces for picnics and outdoor gatherings, basketball courts and even a recording studio, officials have said.
But what the space won’t have is all of former President Barack Obama’s manuscripts, documents, letters and gifts he collected during his time in office. While the Presidential Center is about four years from opening, a conversation has begun about what the facility will mean to scholars and to local research universities without those items.
Libraries - Places - Historians - Academics - College
Traditionally, Presidential Libraries are places where historians, academics and college students travel to dig through paperwork and hold the first drafts of speeches, letters and legislation in their hands. But without those papers on site, some have begun to ask whether the Obama Center can even attract researchers to the University of Chicago, Chicago State University or the University of Illinois. What will it mean to have those documents online rather than in a physical form for inspection? And with digital technology constantly changing, how will the National Archives and Records Administration ensure the documents will be placed online in a timely manner and accessible over time?
“All archivists are waiting to see how this will work, because we are all struggling with how to make things available digitally,” said Peggy Glowacki, a manuscripts librarian at the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “I think in this case it’s such a massive amount of material that it will be important to see how they are able to deliver it and make it easy to search.”
Obama - Papers - Facility - Handsome - Sprawling
Currently, Obama’s papers are stored in a private facility — a handsome and sprawling, bright white brick building on a commercial strip on West Golf Road in suburban Hoffman Estates. Officials initially thought the papers would...
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