Obama’s Presidential Library: University of Hawaii?

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Apparently several American universities are already gearing up to make pitches to host the Barack Obama Presidential Library (yes, weirdly there’s already a website). According to an Associated Press article by Herbert Sample in the Daily Caller:

Barack Obama hasn’t even finished the second year of his first term in the White House, but officials with two universities that are interested in building his presidential library are already positioning themselves to win the Hawaii-born president’s favor.

The University of Hawaii is well into early preparations — including preliminary searches for potential sites, talks with National Archives officials and deliberations on what if any new academic center might accompany an Obama library and museum. The University of Chicago, located in the city where Obama’s political career began, signaled an interest a year ago but is saying very little now.

Obama is apparently saying nothing at all, which seems appropriate since he’s probably hoping not to even have to think about a presidential library until about 2016.

The University of Hawaii, where Obama’s parents met as students, is apparently making very serious preparations. The University of Chicago, where Obama taught law for several years, is also interested in hosting the library, though it’s apparently not quite as vocal about it as Hawaii.

Chicago is a school a little closer to Obama’s experience and life, since he was actually part of the community there. In truth, however, the location of presidential libraries actually turns out to be somewhat random. Of the 19 libraries that hold the papers of American presidents, only seven are affiliated with colleges.

The George W. Bush Library will be located at Southern Methodist University, a school the president’s wife attended as an undergraduate. The Clinton Presidential Center is affiliated with the University of Arkansas, where Clinton briefly taught law. The George Bush Presidential Library is hosted by Texas A&M University, a college to which the 41st president had no personal connection. Likewise, the Jimmy Carter Library is affiliated with Emory University, though Carter’s only connection to that school was its physical location in his home state, Georgia. Lyndon Johnson’s library is managed by the University of Texas at Austin, where the president’s wife went to college. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is adjacent to the University of Massachusetts at Boston, a college that didn’t exist during Kennedy’s lifetime.

Only the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library is managed by a college or university a president actually attended. Ford earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Michigan, which now manages his library, in 1935. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer