Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sad Situation at Hyde Park

The editorial section of July 28's The New York Times discussed the sorry state of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park, New York. Nick Taylor points out that the "nation's first presidential library, is literally falling apart. The roof leaks, the basement floods, asbestos is flaking from old steam pipes, an ancient electrical system could send the whole place up in smoke." It sounds a lot like our house when we moved in fifteen years ago, but the difference is that we have spent the last fifteen years dealing with our house's problems, while NARA has not given the Roosevelt Library this loving care; the other difference, of course, is that our house does not contain a national treasure. Taylor tells the history of the Roosevelt Library (FDR himself designed the building) and donated land from his estate for the building site. The Library is run by the National Archives and Records Administration, which should be ashamed of itself for putting these vital historical documents at risk. The Roosevelt Library, is, according to Taylor, among the most used of the twelve presidential libraries, and the records it contains are vital to understanding the achievements and failures of one of our most important presidents. Funding for a three-year program to repair the Library was approved by the House Financial Services Subcommittee. The plan must go for approval to the House Appropriations Committee, and then the full House and Senate must also support it. As Taylor statements in his concluding paragraph, "We can and should be better stewards of our history."

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