In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt decided to donate a collection of
his personal and presidential papers to the federal government.
Roosevelt believed these materials were part of our national heritage
and should be accessible to the public. The concept of a
presidential library was born. Today there are 10 official presidential
libraries and one presidential project operated by the National Archives
and Records Administration . The libraries
are funded by a combination of federal and private funds.
Each president has chosen the site of his library, but
they are usually located in the president's hometown. All together, the
libraries house 250 million pages of text, 5 million
photographs; 13.5 million feet of motion picture film and 68,000 hours
of disc, audiotape, and videotape recordings. Most libraries also
offer a museum dedicated to the life of that president.
Every president since Herbert Hoover has a presidential library. There
is also one for Rutherford B. Hayes, which was established by his family
and friends and is not operated by the federal government. The official
papers of Richard Nixon are housed at the Nixon Presidential Project in
Washington D.C., but there is also a privately operated library and
museum in Yorba Linda, Calif. A Bill Clinton library is being planned
for a site in Arkansas.