In case you didn’t know it, from June 2-5, 2014, the Presidential Sites and Libraries community will host a conference at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. This event happens every four years and is really one of the best run, most informative conferences you will ever attend. Presenters come from a wide range of institutions: colleges and universities, presidential sites, as well as national parks and libraries with archives that document presidential history. But you’ll also hear from presidential historians and documentary filmmakers of the highest caliber.


So, you may be thinking…I don’t work at a presidential site, so there’s no reason for me to attend. I have to disagree with that thinking!

Here are just a few reasons you need to make time to attend the Presidential Sites and Libraries Conference in June:

  1. Arkansas is about as central as things get, right in the middle of the country. Easy access!
  2. The conference kicks off with a tour of Bill Clinton’s Birthplace Home, a National Park Service site. Isn’t everybody a little curious about “a town called Hope”?
  3. Presidential history is a superb lens through which to engage audiences around American history. Anyone who interprets American state or local history for a living should be thinking creatively about how presidential history affects and connects to what they do.
  4. When will you get another chance to hear from Newsweek editor (and Dwight D. Eisenhower biographer) Evan Thomas one day, tour the Clinton Presidential Center the next day and visit Little Rock’s Central High School the day after that? Seriously!
  5. The conference concludes with an optional trip to Memphis to check out the newly updated National Civil Rights Museum (and Graceland, too, of course).
  6. Session presenters will discuss strategies pertinent to all history institutions: tackling important anniversaries, using digital resources to reach new audiences, and talking about how institutions address real concerns about internal and external theft.
  7. Two members of the Little Rock Nine will be sharing their memories of what it was really like integrating Central High School in 1957.
  8. This is an amazing opportunity to network with colleagues from sites all around the country. The conference is small, so there will be lots of chances to discuss issues with professionals from institutions of all sizes.
  9. The price is right! You really should just sign up now:
  10.   President Bill Clinton will deliver a keynote address. Enough said.

Believe me, this conference is incredible and so rewarding. I attended the 2010 conference and still geek out about getting to hear Annette Gordon-Reed’s book talk on The Hemingses of Monticello (with Thomas Jefferson’s home as backdrop).  Absolutely unforgettable…I can’t wait to see what Little Rock has in store of us. See you there!