This morning the BBC ran a report on the library-institute debate, which featured a nice photo of our oak trees and accurately summarized the focus on secrecy and the institute. Inside Higher Ed has a very interesting article about the extent to which professional groups (archivists, librarians, and others) are now using the library debate to press their concerns about Bush’s Executive Order 13233, which gives him and his designess unprecendented power to control access to his presidential records. (The order is currently under litigation). At least one wire service has also run a similar story.
This article is very interesting not only for the way it captures the opposition to Bush’s policies and their implications for research and the library, but also for the larger light that it casts on SMU. In a sense it confirms the claims of library-institute boosters — SMU has already achieved a greater prominence within higher education simply by virtue of being the finalist. On the other hand, one of the reasons we’ve achieved this prominence is because of those of us raising the concerns about the library and institute — in this sense, all of us at SMU, whether we realize it or not, have been working on the same side of things. SMU Senior Lecturer Barbara Kincaid recognizes this in today’s SMU Daily Campus, in a nice piece entitled “Passionate Debate Shows SMU’s Good Side.”
Finally, an interesting letter to the editor of the Daily Campus suggests pairing the Bush Institute with a different outfit:
a building that houses both the Bush Institute and the SMU Institute for the Study and Promotion of Human Rights and Peaceful Diplomacy. A major goal of this twin kinship would be the fostering of respectful dialogue and an end to demonizing the opposition. All facilities in the building except for private offices would be shared – including the restrooms, elevators, cafeteria, gym, you name it.
This is extremely unlikely to happen, but shows how much people on and off campus continue to think about the host of issues raised by the library and institute.