February 10, 2014

Where will the future Obama Library be built?


A rendering of a plan for the "Barack Obama Community Library" in Chicago by Michael Sorkin.

A rendering of a plan for the “Barack Obama Community Library” in Chicago by Michael Sorkin.

A foundation has been set up to find the home of the future Obama Presidential Library, led by Obama’s Chicago friend Marty Nesbitt, his 2008 National Finance Director Kevin Poorman, and former White House social secretary.The places that are lobbying most strongly for consideration for consideration so far are Hawaii, Obama’s birthplace, and Chicago, the place where he lived for much of his adulthood.

According to NPR, “Another serious bid could come from Columbia University in New York City, where Obama was a student.”

The foundation will likely encourage competition for bids to allow for high funding of the building, which could amount to around 5 million dollars.

According to an ABC News report, the competing locations have already been working on their proposals for about a year:

For the communities vying for the library, much of the legwork required to put together a proposal is already complete. Hawaii officials have been working to lure the library since the 2008 Iowa caucuses — before Obama was even elected president — and has gently lobbied Obama’s sister and close friends. At the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught law, a behind-the-scenes effort is being led by Susan Sher, a top university official and Mrs. Obama’s former chief of staff.

In Chicago, various neighborhood community groups are making their case for why theirs is the best place for the library. And architect and critic Michael Sorkin has put together a plan called “The Barack Obama Community Library” on the south side of the University of Chicago to connect the affluent campus community with its poorer neighbor.


Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.