Feature

Presidential Libraries

By Cody Sung

Volume 1 Issue 4

January 20, 2021

Presidential Libraries

Image provided by Stephen Saks Photography

Every president must go at some point.  After all, democracy is designed to accommodate limits. However, when every president exits the White House, they leave a legacy behind, from additions to the White House, to major policies upheld for decades.  A great way for any president to preserve their legacy is through a grand presidential library.


NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration, controls the presidential libraries through the Office of Presidential Libraries.  Besides keeping the libraries in check, NARA keeps records of historical documents outside of presidential ones, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Additionally, record is kept of military and naturalization records of citizens, maps, charts, and even photographs. These libraries are built to store all the president’s important documents and other artifacts used during their presidency for future generations.  In fact, the library is open to the public. However, checking out items is prohibited, since a presidential “library” is more of an archive and a museum in contrast to a usual library.


The first presidential library was dedicated on June 30, 1941.  It was for Franklin D. Roosevelt, and it was the first library of its kind.  Today, after 80 years, it remains intact, and many more presidential libraries have popped up. For example, George W. Bush has his presidential library located near Dallas.  As time goes on, new libraries have adapted to modern technology.  Barack Obama’s presidential library in Chicago is expected to have digitized records.


Essentially, a presidential library is an archive and museum used to store important documents of a presidency, wherever a president chooses.  It rose to prominence in 1941 by FDR and is a tradition that continues to this day.  Presidential libraries continue to change with advancements in technology, which doesn’t undermine their value. The value of these “libraries” continuously increases and we can look forward to more “libraries” arriving in the future.