Obama Library Likely Headed to Chicago's South Side

This report briefly discusses the proposed construction of President Barack Obama's presidential library in the South Side of Chicago.

Search CRS.gov   CRS.gov Sign In | Sign Up  CRS REPORTS & ANALYSIS CRS Insights Obama Library Likely Headed to Chicago's South Side Daniel J. Richardson, Research Assistant (drichardson@crs.loc.gov, 7­2389) Wendy Ginsberg, Analyst in American National Government (wginsberg@crs.loc.gov, 7­3933) May 13, 2015 (IN10270) On May 12, 2015, the private foundation providing significant funding for the establishment of President Barack Obama's forthcoming presidential library announced they intend to site the building in the South Side of Chicago. The bid to locate the library on Chicago's South Side was submitted by the University of Chicago, which was competing with proposals from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University in New York City, and the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Presidential libraries are managed by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This proposed presidential library would be the official depository for the presidential records from the Obama Administration. Although the library will likely be owned and administered by the federal government, the review of proposals for the library's location and design was facilitated by the Barack Obama Foundation, a private, tax­exempt charity established in January 2014. This foundation is comparable to the private organizations involved with the design and construction of other presidential libraries. Like other presidential foundations, the Barack Obama Foundation is responsible for partnering with NARA and providing a substantial part of the funding for any future library structures. Unlike the other foundations, however, the Barack Obama Foundation will be the first to support a presidential library established since the enactment of the Presidential Historical Records Preservation Act of 2008, which requires higher levels of private financing. Congressional Review Although the President has selected the site for his future library, his decision does not become final until the Archivist of the United States has approved the plan and Congress has been provided an opportunity to express any disapproval. Under the Presidential Libraries Act (PLA, P.L. 84­373), passed in 1955 and subsequently amended in 1986, 2003, and 2008, Congress is provided 60 days of continuous session in which it can review and, if necessary, take action to stop the proposal. Construction and Financing for the Library The Presidential Libraries Act of 1986 (P.L. 99­323) amended the PLA to require significant private financing for future libraries and limit the size of library facilities. As part of these changes, private endowments were required to fund 20% of total construction, acquisition, and improvement costs for the site. Subsequent amendments in 2003 and 2008, however, increased this endowment requirement to 40% and then 60%, respectively. The Barack Obama Foundation will be the first private foundation required to meet the 60% endowment threshold. According to the Chicago Tribune, by the end of 2014 the foundation had raised between $2.9 million and $6.2 million of the projected $500 million that will be required. The 1986 amendments also established limits on public financing for library facilities that exceeded 70,000 square feet. Any construction beyond that square footage cap requires gradual increases in the endowment percentage. This square­footage restriction has applied to all presidents since George H. W. Bush. The Presidential Library System Nationwide The Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum would become the 14th presidential library maintained by NARA, and the 5th associated with a university. As a consequence, the location of the library in Chicago would continue a recent trend in the establishment of presidential libraries. The first four presidential libraries—Roosevelt, Truman, Hoover, and Eisenhower—were located in the Presidents' hometowns or principle residences. Since that time, many Presidents have chosen to locate their libraries elsewhere, often with an affiliated university. Additional information on these trends is provided in CRS Report R41513, The Presidential Libraries Act and the Establishment of Presidential Libraries, by Wendy Ginsberg, Erika K. Lunder, and Daniel J. Richardson. Table 1 lists the other 13 presidential libraries currently under NARA's administration and indicates those with university affiliations. In recent years, these libraries have drawn close to 2 million combined annual visitors. In a study commissioned by the University of Chicago to accompany its presidential library proposal, an economic research firm suggested that the proposed Obama Library could draw 800,000 annual visitors and provide an economic effect of $220 million per year. According to NARA, in FY2012, the most visited presidential library (the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum) experienced 380,570 visitors. In 2011, the Archivist of the United States testified that local Chambers of Commerce and State Tourism Boards estimate that each visitor to a presidential library spends an additional $100­$200 at local restaurants and hotels. Additional information on the presidential library system and recent issues surrounding the establishment of these libraries can be found in CRS Report R41513, The Presidential Libraries Act and the Establishment of Presidential Libraries, by Wendy Ginsberg, Erika K. Lunder, and Daniel J. Richardson. Table 1. Presidential Library Facilities and Locations Facility Name Location Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum West Branch, Iowa Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Hyde Park, New York Museum Harry S. Truman Library and Museum Independence, Missouri Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Abilene, Kansas Museum John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Boston, Massachusetts Museum Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum* Austin, Texas Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Yorba Linda, California Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Ann Arbor, Michigan Museum* Jimmy Carter Library and Museum Atlanta, Georgia Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum Simi Valley, California George Bush Presidential Library and Museum* College Station, Texas William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Little Rock, Arkansas Museum George W. Bush Presidential Library* Dallas, Texas Source: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.hoover.archives.gov/; Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/; Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, http://www.trumanlibrary.org/; Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/; John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.jfklibrary.org/; Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, http://www.lbjlibrary.org/; Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.nixonlibrary.gov/index.php; Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/; Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/; Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.reaganfoundation.org//; George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, http://bushlibrary.tamu.edu/; William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.clintonlibrary.gov/; and George W. Bush Presidential Library, http://www.georgewbushlibrary.gov/. Notes: Asterisks indicate facilities affiliated with universities.  Share this Insight RETURN TO CRS INSIGHTS Site index  ISSUES BEFORE CONGRESS Agriculture REPORTS Appropriations and Budget Overview EVENTS Defense Recent Reports All Events Economy, Finance, and Recovery Find an Analyst Appropriations and Budget Education, Employment, and Income Constitution Annotated Federal Legal Research Emergencies and Disasters Congressional Operations Legislative Process Energy, Environment, and Resources Insights Programs for District Offices Federal Government Legal Sidebar Orientations Foreign Policy In Focus Policy and Legal seminars Health View/Cancel Registrations Homeland Security and Terrorism Recorded Events Housing Training & Program Descriptions Law and Justice Science and Technology Social Policy RESOURCES Tax Trade Transportation Overview Tools for Staff Legislative Reference Sources Grants & Federal Assistance Tracking Federal Funds Congressional Liaison Offices CQ's American Congressional Dictionary ABOUT CRS Overview Contact us CRS History Leadership Organization Research Areas About This Site QUICK LINKS Appropriations Status Table Congressional Operations Constitution Annotated Events Recent Reports CRS Videos New to Congress District/State Staff Services to Interns Legislative Information System (LIS) Feedback Contact us.... EXTERNAL RESOURCES Congress.gov LC Net Library of Congress Book Loan   CRS telephone: (202) 707-5700