Study of Presidential Libraries

LCD-80-27: Published: Dec 5, 1979. Publicly Released: Dec 5, 1979.

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The Presidential Libraries Act provides for acceptance and maintenance of Presidential libraries, authorizes the General Services Administration (GSA) to accept for deposit the papers and other historical materials of a President or former President, and allows GSA to accept land, buildings, and equipment offered to the Government for a Presidential archival depository to maintain, operate, and protect them.

Operating and maintenance costs for the six Presidential libraries for fiscal year 1979 are estimated at $7 million. Concern has been expressed as to the increased size of the more recent libraries. A major factor contributing to the increased size is the inclusion of archival depositories in the libraries. As part of the GAO study five alternate approaches for maintaining Presidential papers and historical materials were developed: (1) a central depository for all Presidential records; (2) Presidential libraries located at designated regional centers; (3) curtailment or elimination of museums; (4) centralized storage and microcopying; and (5) decentralized libraries and centralized museums. Since the public shows greater interest in the museum function of these libraries, GAO believes that there is a tendency for management to direct much of its attention toward the museum function. GAO believes careful consideration should be given to alternative solutions in view of increasing costs and the inevitable growth in the number and size of Presidential libraries.

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