Recently it was revealed that President Barack Obama intends to raise $1 billion to build his library and fund the associated endowment.
Despite being a student of presidential history and a supporter of Obama, I think it's time to put an end to this modern-day version of the Egyptian pyramids.
Two of my favorite presidents, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, started the arms race of presidential libraries.
In a span of about 60 years, the price of a presidential library has gone from less than $2 million to $1 billion and counting.
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Where does this end?
The only answer is to put an end to this nonsense. The thoughtful, scholarly study of the presidency is important. So, too, is the celebration of a president by the community or state that launched his or her career. But $1 billion edifices are not just too expensive, they also stand in conflict with the very idea of citizen leaders.
The next president should pledge that he or she will not build a bricks-and-mortar library. Instead, he or she should create the first totally virtual library. The critical objectives of scholarship and transparency, as promoted by Roosevelt and Truman, would still be honored. But the unseemly and irresponsible shilling by former presidents would come to an end.
Dan McGinn, founder and CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based McGinn and Co., is a reputation management adviser.