Presidential Libraries Hosted NIF forums

In collaboration with the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), the 12 Presidential Libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration hosted a series of discussions on public policy issues in the fall of 2008. Each of the Presidential Libraries hosted a series of three forums, with some libraries hosting additional forums. The libraries each hosted a forum on health care, and other forums covered a range of topics including immigration, federal debt, education, and energy. The forums reflected the interests and enthusiasm of the community that supports the Libraries. As a result, the forums were held in a variety of locations including the Presidential Libraries, local community centers, public libraries, and university campuses. "Hosting National Issues Forums at the Presidential Libraries is consistent with our emphasis on civic education," Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States, said. "Presidential Libraries are public places and it is appropriate for citizens to engage in discussions about major public policy issues in the midst of a presidential campaign." "Participants in a forum," William Winter, NIFI chairman emeritus, said, "deliberate with one another -eye-to-eye, face to-face, exploring options, weighing others' views, considering the costs and consequences of public policy decisions. In a democracy, citizens have a responsibility to make choices about how to solve problems and forums help enrich participants' thinking on public issues. By offering citizens a framework for deliberative forums, NIFI helps the public take an active role in acting on public issues." The Presidential Libraries of the National Archives are not libraries in the usual sense. They are archives and museums, bringing together in one place the documents and artifacts of a president and his administration and presenting them to the public for study and discussion without regard for political considerations or affiliations. Presidential Libraries and Museums, like their holdings, belong to the American people. They promote understanding of the presidency and the American experience, preserving and providing access to historical materials, support research, and create interactive programs and exhibits that educate and inspire. NIFI is a nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally sponsored forums for the consideration of public policy issues. Forums are rooted in the simple notion that citizens need to come together to reason and talk—to deliberate about common problems.