The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter: Presidential library dollars can be better spent elsewhere

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  • To the editor:
    This letter was triggered by the announcement last April that another presidential library has been dedicated, the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.
    This is the 13th library we have. The question becomes how many can Americans support. Currently, we have the Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush and Clinton.
    Texas has three: LBJ, G.H.W. Bush and G.W. Bush. California has two: Nixon and Reagan. Poor old Kansas has only one: Dwight D. Eisenhower.
    Now comes the Barack Obama Presidential Library. Hawaii and Illinois are lobbying for the honor of housing his presidential records and serve as a monument to his legacy.
    If each newly elected president for the next 104 years stay in office for the full eight years, we will have 13 additional. Pretty soon, we will have more than all the state capital buildings combined.
    While much of the original cost of construction is provided by private donations, the general public is not aware of the tremendous costs of maintaining these edifices. It has been quoted by reliable sources that $68 million in appropriations were spent in 2013, including $2.8 million for central office management costs. Such costs supposedly included programming, operation and maintenance.
    Elsewhere, it was reported than an average of $2 million in appropriations are expended for each library. It's interesting that the figures do not jive.
    My calculations would be more like $5 million, when you consider that we spent for each library in 2013:
    • $4.2 million for Hoover.
    • $4.8 million for Roosevelt.
    • $4.4 million for Truman.
    • $3.8 million for Eisenhower.
    • $7 million for Kennedy.
    • $5.7 million for Johnson.
    • $4.9 million for Nixon.
    • $5.2 million for Ford.
    • $4.7 million for Carter.
    • $5.7 million for Reagan.
    • $5.4 million for Bush 41.
    • $5.3 million for Clinton.
    • $5.9 million for Bush 43.
    I am ambivalent about such libraries. They serve a special need, I suppose, but eventually this means of archiving presidential records and artifacts will have to be confronted. It has been thought that as times pass and the legacy of a particular president become dim that the need for those treasures would not be necessary.
    This has not proven to be the case, such as for the Roosevelt collections. The small number of researchers that visit various records has not diminished.
    However, statistics have shown that visitations tend to move downward. These attendance figures for 2013 were cited:
    • 1.6 million for Kennedy.
    • 1.5 million for Reagan.
    • 452,000 for Clinton.
    • 349,000 for Truman.
    • 292,000 for Roosevelt.
    If you have not visited one of these erstwhile institutions, you should do so because we need to up our attendance figures so our dollars are better spent.
    Page 2 of 2 - Warren L. Reed, Jr.
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