Updates

A New Partnership for the Digital Age with the National Archives and Records Administration

The Barack Obama Foundation is pleased to announce an initial letter of intent that lays out key terms of our collaboration with the National Archives and Record Administration.

In May 2017, the Foundation and NARA announced a new partnership for the digital age: We would work together to digitize the analog records and artifacts of the Obama Administration so that, over time, NARA could make them as accessible and available to the public as possible and the Foundation would separately fund, build, and operate a presidential center and museum to tell the story of President and Mrs. Obama and to use the lessons of their lives and careers and of the Obama presidency to inspire people of all backgrounds to engage in their communities.

Since that time, the Foundation and NARA have been working toward a partnership that uses the resources of both organizations to create a digital presidential library. NARA will maintain legal custody and responsibility for storing, preserving, and providing access to all of the records and artifacts of the Obama presidency, and the Foundation will, through an active loan program, display significant examples of these physical materials at the Obama Presidential Center for the public.

The principal commitments in the letter of intent include:

  • The Obama Foundation agrees to use its own resources to digitize the unclassified analog Obama presidential records and to create digital images of artifacts transferred to NARA’s custody at the end of the Obama Administration. This will be a large undertaking, on par with few previous digitization projects in history, and the Foundation is working closely with NARA to meet this ambitious goal.
  • NARA and the Foundation commit to identifying and applying innovative tools, approaches, and solutions to digitization, preservation, review, discovery, and access to the unclassified digital Presidential records in order to address the challenges of making these materials publicly accessible in as timely a manner as possible.  
  • Both organizations anticipate signing additional agreements regarding digitization and the loan and display of Obama presidential records and artifacts at the Obama Presidential Museum and will work in good faith and make best efforts to complete them in 2018.

“The Obama Foundation is pleased to work with NARA on its strategic goal to ‘make access happen by using our resources to digitize the Obama presidential records,” said David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation. “The guiding principle of Barack and Michelle Obama’s lives has been that ordinary people working together can change history, and this new model honors that ethos by allowing anyone around the world—no matter their background, geography, ideology, status – the opportunity to see firsthand the challenges and success of his presidency.”

“As we transition to a fully digital government, we are excited by the opportunity to create a new model for access to Presidential records from the Obama Administration,” said David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. “Working with the Obama Foundation, we intend to maintain those records in accordance with NARA standards while also establishing new standards for digital access and citizen engagement.”

You can view the full letter of intent here.

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