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Obama Library Center won’t follow National Archive model

FILE - In this May 3, 2017, file photo, former President Barack Obama speaks at a community event on the Presidential Center at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago. The Obama Presidential Center will not be a part of the presidential library network operated by the National Archives and Records Administration. The former president has said construction of the center on Chicago's South Side would take about four years. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Obama Presidential Center won’t be a part of the presidential library network operated by the National Archives and Records Administration.

The move will free the Obama Foundation from amassing an endowment equivalent to 60 percent of the construction cost, the Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/2q7ae6o ) reported.

The foundation won’t have to adhere to the agency’s architectural and design standards. And it won’t have to pay NARA to help run an agency-controlled portion of the center.

Freedom from the National Archives could save the foundation tens of millions of dollars, more than making up for the loss of federal funds.

Foundation spokeswoman Amy Brundage characterizes the arrangement with NARA as “mutually beneficial,” saying it “better reflects the way people access information in this digital age.”

Former President Barack Obama has said construction of the center on Chicago’s South Side would take about four years.

The split wasn’t disclosed last week when Obama unveiled conceptual designs for the center. In the months leading up to the announcement, it was widely assumed the center would be a part of the presidential library network.

“It’s surprising,” said University of Louisville professor Benjamin Hufbauer, author of a book on presidential libraries. “My short take is that it’s good news. Most of (the libraries) are centers for presidential spin. They’re propaganda centers run by the federal government. Should the government be doing that for presidents?”

The nation’s 13 major presidential libraries, including Boston’s John F. Kennedy Library and Southern California’s tribute to Ronald Reagan, get about $65 million a year from the federal government.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com

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