Visiting the Carter Library

On Tuesday, Virginia Blake and I had ourselves a little adventure. Normally, a half-day trip to Atlanta–including 7 hours on an immensely boring stretch of I-20–doesn’t exactly elicit waves of enthusiasm, but I’d say we fared rather well.

Front Entrance to the Carter LibraryWhy Atlanta? Well, Phil Grose was speaking and signing copies of his new book, Looking for Utopia: the Life and Times of John C. West, at the Carter Presidential Library. Jack West, Governor West’s son, was also in attendance and spoke. We have the West Papers here at SCPC and have exhibited material from the collection for other similar events. I have a soft spot for presidential libraries as I spent 1000 memorable hours as an intern at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, MO (my town of birth) in 2000. So, when Herb asked for volunteers to take an exhibit to the book signing, I quickly volunteered and then drafted Virginia to accompany me.

Rain and snarled traffic limited the crowd for the event but about 20 people made it out to hear Phil Grose and Jack West speak. About half of those were area students. The nice staff at the Carter Library helped us set up in a good space, finding us tables and easels to use. Jack West got a kick out of seeing himself in the exhibit and most of the attendees stopped by for a look.

Our set-up for the evening--right between the book table and the gift shop!

The Carter Library recently underwent an extensive renovation of exhibits, so Virginia and I were thrilled when Tony Clark, their head of Public Affairs, invited us to return for a behind-the-scenes tour. Thanks, Tony! During a little down time, Virginia and I perused the gift shop. I dare say I almost bought a Carter baseball, a baseball-themed Monopoly, and a donkey tie. I refrained, though. We also visited the Oval Office and got our pictures taken!

So, thanks to Phil Grose, Jack West, and the Carter Library staff for welcoming us and being so kind to us. We had a great time and hopefully, some of the folks in attendance felt the exhibits enhanced their evening just a bit. Even the drive wasn’t so bad. We talked archives and how to best teach processing to archival students, we made up stories about why we kept seeing so many groupings of police cars on the side of the highway (clearly, they were chasing a fugitive through the woods), and we spoke longingly about the holiday season.

When we take Tony up on his offer of a tour, we’ll be sure to report back here!

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