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President Bush’s library debate expands

We posted a story a few days ago about the controversy surrounding George W. Bush’s presidential library. Here is a follow-up story in Inside Higher ED. While faculty members at Southern Methodist University (SMU) are mobilizing to challenge the university’s plans to build President Bush’s library, scholars have begun a campaign against Bush’s executive order 13233 that extends the power that former presidents and their families have over their presidential papers, asking SMU to turn down the library as long as the executive order stays in place.

“I think this is very significant,” said Benjamin Hufbauer, an associate professor of art history at the University of Louisville and author of Presidential Temples: How Memorials and Libraries Shape Public Memory (University Press of Kansas). “They are raising the profile of an issue that gets to the heart of the profession.”

With the executive order in place, Hufbauer said, it isn’t fair for SMU to argue that a great scholarly resource will be placed on its campus. “People say that the archive is the most valuable part of it. That’s where you can hopefully get to historical truth,” Hufbauer. “But if you don’t have all the papers, instead you have just a museum of political propaganda.”

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