On April 25, the dedication ceremony for the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum was held on the campus of Southern Methodist University, where in 1973 a young Laura Welch had earned her Master of Library Science just a few years before marrying the love of her life, George.
The tone of the day’s ceremony was set by the former First Lady, as she not only played hostess to welcome the crowd at the event, but had also served as the chair of the design committee for the last four years.
Regarding libraries, President Bush had this to say, “There was a time in my life when I wasn’t likely to be found at a library, much less found one.”
The dedication ceremony hosted dignitaries from around the world as well as many elected officials, all introduced by former Sec. of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice.
The day was steeped in heavy security, with all five living presidents and their wives in attendance.
Somewhere in the background, were countless employees and volunteers who were responsible for managing the thousands of spectators and the event itself.
Alan C. Lowe, Director, had been preparing for this day for approximately four years as the Bush Foundation worked to construct a new building on the campus of SMU, while his team processed archives and artifacts from the Bush era in the temporary home based in Lewisville, Texas.
With the April 25 dedication, the building was officially given over to the National Archives and Records Administration.
“It’s a very rich archives with 70 million pages of paper records and 80 terabytes of electronic information, including over 200 million emails and 42,000 artifacts,” stated Lowe.
“We sort through this with a great processing plan by working hand in hand with Washington colleagues and the President’s office.”
When asked of his experience with other presidential libraries such as the Roosevelt and the Reagan Library, Lowe stated that when there he learned to love the mission of the libraries. “I wanted to apply those lessons as I went up the ladder in Washington.”
He currently oversees and advocates for the libraries around the country.
The keys to his success have been defined by a couple of key factors, according to Lowe. “Getting a great staff, and establishing partnerships with foundation and community like SMU,” Though these were just one facet of many for which Lowe has been responsible throughout the last four years’ design phase.
The museum and research room opens to the general public on May 1, and by January of 2014 all records will be available by request through Freedom of Information Act.
Lowe pointed out that since President Bush was the first true Internet president, the dynamics of managing his archives has dramatically changed. He also applauded the National Archives for their foresight in the planning efforts to create and capture the electronic records archive. “The quantity of emails alone equals more than every other president combined,” said Lowe.