A tale of two libraries UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A tale of two libraries UPDATE

Posted By on Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 4:36 PM

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch article says the Lincoln library in Springfield, Ill., remains the most popular among the presidential libraries.

A side note worth following up:

While Lincoln's has prospered, some other presidential museums haven't fared so well over the past few years, according to attendance figures from the National Archives. Attendance at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Ark., is down nearly 50 percent from its first year. The museum drew 233,345 visitors in the last fiscal year, down from 447,788 in 2005.

Still, a 2009 National Archives report said the Clinton museum had provided "the catalyst for the rebirth of downtown Little Rock."

UPDATE: Jordan Johnson, a spokesman for the Clinton Library, disputes the numbers reported in the article. His statement:

The article is inaccurate in terms of attendance numbers last year for the
Clinton Center. Despite the economy and national visitor trends among many
museums and institutions, the Clinton Center's attendance actually increased
last year. We exceeded 300,000 visitors in fiscal year 2009, which continues
to surpass all projections.

It is worth noting that most museums and attractions typically experience
the highest attendance numbers during the first year of operation. The next
few years of operation are usually followed with major decreases in
attendance numbers. Usually, there is a point at which attendance will level

The Clinton Foundation had a visitor study completed in 2001, projecting
300,000 visitors for the first year of the Clinton Center's operation
(2005). After approximately three years of operation, attendance would level
off at approximately 160,000 visitors per year, according to the study.

With more than 500,000 visitors to the Clinton Center during the first year
of operation, and more than 300,000 visitors last year, (well more than 1.6
million visitors since opening in November 2004) the Clinton Center
continues to be an asset for all of Arkansas.

It should also be noted that the Lincoln Library is a great national
treasure but it is not part of the National Archives system, which oversees
all the other presidential libraries. As a result, any comparison of the
Lincoln Library to the other presidential libraries as part of the National
Archives is not an apples to apples comparison due to government oversight.

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