Know What To Expect In The Research Room
The archival interview process
Researchers who come to do research onsite must fill out a researcher application form, provide photo identification, and view an orientation presentation before working with any records. This is also an opportunity to ask the archival staff about how to find what they are looking for.
What the Library can provide researchers
Archives staff can provide researchers access to collections and FOIAs that have been fully processed and notified. In accordance with Executive Order 13489, archives staff must inform the incumbent and former Presidents (through designated representatives) of the intent to release records. The notification period begins only after all processing is complete and reviewed records are officially proposed for opening to the public.
What the Library cannot provide researchers
There are some instances in which records are not available.
- When the records requested are unprocessed. Archives staff must perform all processing tasks (arrangement, preservation, review, and description) and notification before making records available to the public.
- When archival staff must apply restrictions to records. Archivists most often apply restrictions to records based on statutory requirements per the FOIA and the PRA. If a document is restricted in whole or in part, it is noted on a disposition sheet at the front of each processed folder.
- Archivists will deny a FOIA request in whole or in part only when they determine that information may be withheld under one or more of the eight FOIA exemptions that apply to presidential records. The reviewing archivist only withholds information in a record if they determine that disclosure would harm an interest protected by such exemption. If only part of a record must be withheld, the reviewing archivist will redact (or take out) that specific information and provide access to the rest of the record.
- Presidential records subject to the PRA may also be withheld under six PRA restrictions during the first twelve years after the end of an administration. The PRA restrictions for George W. Bush Presidential records expired on January 20, 2021. The Library is planning to proactively propose for release records previously withheld under a PRA restriction on a rolling basis beginning in 2021. The Library will post these records on the Library website as soon as they have gone through the PRA notification period required by law.
- When analysis of a topic or a list of compiled information is requested. Archivists do not create, compile, or analyze documents. Archivists cannot provide documents that do not already exist in the collections. To assist researchers with finding materials on several popular research subjects, archives staff have written topic guides.