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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
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A Tough Choice

So which presidential library would you like to see?

Take your time. You don't have to answer immediately. I know this is a hard choice.

The first one that came to my mind, of course, was the Millard Fillmore Presidential Library. That's got to be interesting, right?

Well, it's not because there isn't one.

Somehow - and I can't explain this - I'd assumed there was a library for every president. Presidents are kind of important historical figures. They should each get their due.

But they don't.

If you don't believe me, check out the list of presidential libraries. There are only 13 presidential libraries.

Herbert Hoover has one.

Abraham Lincoln does not.

George W. Bush has one.

George Washington does not.

Before the presidency of Herbert Hoover, there were no such things as presidential libraries.

This is wonderfully ironic or maybe poetic because we seem to be coming to an age when there will be no such things libraries. At least not libraries with stacks of books and displays.

Computers and clouds have taken over. Some day we'll be visiting presidential microchips.

At this point, you're probably wondering how I came upon this topic.

Insanity is one plausible explanation, but the real answer is that LexisNexis last week ran a rather odd contest on its website that asks law librarians some philosophical (or maybe practical) questions about their choice of occupation.

The contest is called "The Future of the Library" and the prize is a trip to the presidential library of your choice. So you can imagine the intense competition.

Actually, you don't have to imagine because the website displays the contest entries. There aren't as many as I might have thought (unless they're hiding the filthy ones).

The April 21 question - "How do you see your role as a Law Librarian evolving in the future?" - had 12 responses. Most of them had kind of a dreamy, science fiction/fantasy quality to them.

Some excerpts:

"... librarians will morph into legal research mavens..."

"I see a shift from a researcher positions to a position that is more of a guide."

"I see myself more involved in firm operations that I ever thought possible ..."

"Already involved in more marketing, communications and competitive intelligence than before ..."

"I don't see our role changing much ..."

OK, that last guy was a little out of sync. They may not have computers in his office yet. The rest seem ready to become firm gurus or just take over their firms. Those pesky, lazy lawyers just get in the way.

You lawyers out there may want to start being nice to your librarians.

Now let's get back to the interesting question here: Which presidential library do you pick to visit? And why?

I have a hazy recollection of visiting the Dwight D. Eisenhower library in Kansas decades ago. I think I remember seeing displays of Mamie Eisenhower's dresses.

So that's a tempting option. But then how do you weigh that against, say, the 1970s Gallery at the Gerald Ford library where "Video and sound bites recalling various news events blend with early 1970s memorabilia including platform shoes, tie-dyed garments, bell-bottom jeans, love beads, eight-track tapes, and MIA bracelets?"

LexisNexis is paying for only a two-night stay, so you can't decide this by location since there's no time to do anything but visit the presidential library.

I'm glad I don't have to decide this.

By the way, you'll be happy to know that there is a President Millard Fillmore Library but it's just, well, a library - with a lot of digital stuff.

It's in the city of Fillmore.

In Millard County, Utah.

Now that's a prize-winning destination.

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