and what it will bring to Jackson Park
The OPC represents the first major investment to come to the South Side of Chicago in decades. Those opposed to the situating of the OPC in Jackson Park say "giving" of parkland to a private entity is wrong and claim this is not in the public's best interest. Below we present some of the facts surrounding the OPC including land use statistics, public access and discussion of what the OPC specifically will bring to the South Side of Chicago. Highlighted are the description of the OPC site and the Land Use Agreement whereby the Foundation will donate the site and its buildings to the City of Chicago, thus it will remain in the public's hands. We also discuss the benefit of the Obama Foundation to digitize Obama's documents, making them accessible to anyone with a computer and internet connection, instead of using precious space to house the physical documents.
Click on the movie below to see the transformation of the western strip of Jackson Park into the OPC.
The OPC buildings with publicly accessible green space roofs are shown in ORANGE
The Museum tower is shown in PURPLE
Publicly accessible green space features of the OPC site are shown in GREEN.
The Digital Obama Library as Model for the 21st Century
A key difference between the Obama Presidential Center and other Presidential Libraries is the use of digitization as a means to access the vast numbers of archives generated during the Obama years in the White House. The decision to not locate paper archives on site included discussion with management of other presidential centers and the National Archives (NARA). Other presidential centers noted that the exceedingly low on-site use by scholars led them to conclude that the amount of space taken up by the non-public storage areas was not warranted. (See a humorous way of estimating the equivalent usage for the OPC here.) The current library model also does not account for the larger volume of materials that are already digital. The Obama Foundation decided to work with NARA to design a new model – digitized documents that can be broadly accessed, paper records preserved and protected off site but still accessible to scholars, and more OPC space devoted to the public. Another example of this model is the new Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Center, which will also be fully digital and retain little or no onsite documents. They already have a link to a substantial collection of digitized documents - go to here to browse them.
The clear benefit of this model is that these documents will be accessible to anyone with a computer, whereas previously you would need to be a scholar and travel to the presidential library to access these documents. Considering the time and expense of such trips, the accessibility of paper documents is almost infinitely lower than those that are digitized. Furthermore, digitization such that these documents no longer occupy physical space, frees up a considerable amount of space for other resources. The Obama Foundation will have a new branch of the Chicago Public Library on site, free and accessible to all, just like the other Public Libraries. See the other resources planned for the OPC site here.
Read this article in Politico which discusses this topic in much more detail.