Competition appears to be growing between universities hoping to become the site of Barack Obama’s presidential library. A working group at the University of Hawaii’s main campus in Honolulu is considering whether or not the university should make a formal bid. Meanwhile, the University of Chicago, located in the city where the president’s political career began, showed signs of interest a year ago but is keeping a low profile.
According to a November 15 Associated Press report, the University of Hawaii is “well into early preparations,” which have included preliminary searches for potential sites, talks with National Archives officials, and deliberations on what if any new academic center might accompany a library and museum for the Hawaii-born president.
“We’re trying to present the president with some choices,” Robert Perkinson said in a November 29 Chicago Tribune story. An American studies professor at the University of Hawaii, Perkinson is leading the working group to decide whether the university should make a formal bid. He revealed, however, that the Hawaii bid hinges on whether the president wins a second term, according to a December 1 Hispanic Business News story.
Perkinson told MSNBC that “this is something that presidents typically think about toward the end of their presidency, and Obama hopefully is still toward the beginning of his presidency. So it’s not surprising that he doesn’t want to think about it. But those of us who are interested in bidding, we have to think about it a lot earlier than he does.”
Despite the enthusiasm in Hawaii, “some observers think the U. of C. is most apt to win an Obama library," according to the Tribune. The White House had no comment.
There currently are 13 presidential libraries. Groundbreaking for the 14th, George W. Bush’s facility at Southern Methodist University in Dallas took place on November 16; the design was revealed last year. An unofficial fan site has already been established for the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum, regardless of where it will be built.