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Initial proposals sought for future Obama library

Thursday - 3/20/2014, 6:10pm  ET

JOSH LEDERMAN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Want your city, university or nonprofit group to be chosen to host President Barack Obama's presidential library? Now's the time to get started.

The foundation that will develop and choose the site for Obama's future library asked interested parties Thursday to submit their initial proposals. The "request for qualifications" offers the most detailed look to date at what the president and first lady Michelle Obama are seeking for what will be the permanent monument to their White House legacy.

"Our vision is to create a space that reflects President Obama's values and priorities throughout his career in public service and serves as force for good in the surrounding community and throughout our world," said Marty Nesbitt, the Chicago businessman and longtime Obama friend who chairs the Barack Obama Foundation.

Illinois, New York and Hawaii are all expected to compete for Obama's library, which is anticipated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, attract a flurry of visitors and drive economic development in the surrounding community. Chicago and Honolulu have been working on their own proposals for years.

Those and other communities will have until June 16 to submit details about their proposed sites, including current zoning rules, topographical surveys, tourism statistics and information about accessibility to transportation. Over the summer, the foundation will score those proposals, then cull the list and invite selected groups to submit more formal, detailed applications.

Once the final applications are scored, the foundation will make primary and secondary location recommendations to the project's leadership before making a presentation to the president and Mrs. Obama in the fall. The Obamas will make the final decision, and the foundation plans to announce the winner in the first months of 2015.

Specifics about what the future library will entail were detailed in a 70-page "request for qualifications" released by the foundation on Thursday and sent by Nesbitt to groups that have already indicated their interest. The foundation said the space the National Archives and Records Administration projects will be required to accommodate Obama's records includes:

--More than 20,000 cubic feet of unclassified documents, or about one-quarter of an Olympic-size swimming pool.

--Another 5,676 cubic feet of classified documents, and 804 cubic feet of audio-visual records.

--Fifteen thousand cubic feet for Obama's artifacts, or about the same amount of space as the Oval Office takes up.

That represents a decline from previous presidential libraries, which NARA attributes to the move toward using emails and electronic records in lieu of hardcopies of the past.

Obama's future library should be a versatile, community-enhancing institution as well as a "new international destination," the foundation said. The facility and its programming should embody the principles that Obama has promoted during his presidency and his campaign, it says.

Among those principles: empowerment, inclusivity and expanded economic opportunity. Inspiring the "ethic of citizenship" and promoting peace and justice throughout the world are also high priorities, the group said.


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