OpenGov National Archives

Open Government Plan 2016 - 2018

National Archives and Records Administration

2.4 Presidential Libraries

The Office of Presidential Libraries at NARA administers a nationwide network of 13 Presidential libraries beginning with the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. On January 20, 2017, NARA will take legal custody of the Presidential records from the Obama administration, which will eventually be housed in the Barack Obama Presidential Library to be located in Chicago. These are not traditional libraries, but rather repositories for preserving and making accessible the papers, records, and other historical materials of U.S. Presidents. Presidential libraries and museums are important sources for historians and researchers studying our presidents and our history. In addition to archiving and preserving Presidential papers and objects, Presidential libraries and museums bring history to millions of in-person and online visitors from around the world. 

Strengthening public engagement in the records of the Presidential libraries supports our open government efforts and the mission of the NARA. We will continue to work to increase availability and accessibility of records that are both known to be of interest to researchers as well as working to engage the public in experiences that expose new aspects of the records.

We will continue leveraging technology to provide better access to the records, further public engagement, and enhance and expand the user experience. Presidential libraries will continue to do this by sharing records and content on social media and digital engagement platforms, including blogs, Facebook, Google Cultural Institute, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube. We will also use these social media tools as meeting places for the public to ask questions and exchange ideas with staff. 

In our ongoing efforts to facilitate open government, Presidential libraries host public Twitter chats on a regular basis. During these online conversations, staff from multiple libraries share documents on a timely topic and answer questions from the public. In 2015, we participated and hosted Twitter chats on a range of topics including women working for White House administrations, holidays at the White House, Presidential vacations, disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Ask an Archivist.  Building on these successes, we will continue to engage with the public through established and emerging social media channels on a variety of topics of interest. As part of our commitment to this engagement, we will actively seek to learn about and make use of new communications tools.  

We continue to expand our cooperative digitization projects to increase online access to the records. The Clinton Library has started its second year of collaboration with the Office of Innovation on a pilot project to scan selected FOIA-responsive records. This project results in the scanning of textual records and the creation of necessary metadata so that these records can be made available through the National Archives Catalog. Pending funding, the agency is planning to expand this into similar projects at other Presidential libraries.