March 20, 2018

Clinton Presidential Library Opens to Great Fanfare

By LJ Staff

Amid much pomp, pageantry, security–and umbrellas, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center officially opened November 18 in Little Rock, AR, kicking off an expected economic boom in the city. As many as 50,000 people were joined by a numerous celebrities and four former presidents (George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Clinton), while Clinton’s daughter Chelsea presented the library’s keys to National Archivist John Carlin. The library, the 12th such presidential facility, is expected to draw between 150,000 to 300,000 visitors yearly to Little Rock. Financed by donations from roughly 112,000 supporters, the $165 million 70,000 sq. ft. archives building debuted with over 80 million documents, 77,000 artifacts, two million photos, 20,000 videotapes, and over 21 million emails, equaling 630 tons of material, making it the largest collection of any American president.

Modeled after the Trinity Library in Dublin, Ireland, the center has thematic alcoves and the interactive exhibits are lined with bookcases containing folios of real documents. New York Senator and former First Lady Hillary Clinton commented that "the building is like my husband: it’s open, it’s expansive, it’s welcoming, it’s filled with light." Although the collection does include items on the impeachment and Lewinsky scandals, perhaps the library’s most intriguing "special" collection is the deposit of a five-foot-long time capsule in the library grounds. Scheduled to be opened in 100 years, it includes a copy of Clinton’s memoirs, a cell phone, a Blackberry, and a can of diet Coke, among other things.