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Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library

Page history last edited by Paul Keenan 13 years, 11 months ago

Date of tip: 13 September 2005 (last research visit dates back to June 2004).

Source: Garret Martin, g.j.martin@lse.ac.uk


Location: 2313 Red River St., Austin, TX 78705, USA.


Contact Details: Museum number is (+1) 512-721-0200. Reading room number is (+1) 512-721-0212. 


Possible Accommodation: Both the Days Inn University Downtown Austin and the Rodeway Inn Austin University Downtown are fairly modest and comfortable accommodations, that are about 5-7 minutes walking distance from the Archives. You can book both those hotels over the internet. In addition, I have heard that during the summer holidays, University of Texas Austin offer dorm rooms that are both cheap and near the Archive.  


How to get there: It might come as a shock, but you won’t be able to find a direct flight to Austin- Bergstrom Airport from London. Probably the easiest option is to fly either to Houston (with Continental as Houston is its main hub) or Dallas, and then take an internal flight. But you can also fly to Chicago for example.  


Language: Besides obviously English, I wouldn’t be surprised if staff also spoke some Spanish. However I never actually ventured to verify this.  


Getting started: The website is well organised and easy to use, and the obvious starting point is to have a look at the page listing the archival collections of the Library, which you can consult at the following link http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/archives.hom/holdings/content.asp. This is very useful of course as with the various links to the sub-series, you can note down in advance all the numbers of the boxes that you want to consult during your research, and so gain some valuable time. 

Before rocking up to the LBJ Library, you also need to book your place in advance, because it can get quite busy. I contacted a person called Charlaine McCauley (charlaine.mccauley@nara.gov), and gave my dates. Finally, and this is important, Presidential Libraries tend to be quite generous when it comes to granting research funds, and the LBJL is no exception.

Note: There are two deadlines every year, March 15th for the following fall term, and September 15th for the following spring term. Here is the link with the information and the application form: 

When you arrive to the reading room the first time, you will normally have a quick interview with an archivist, and you will be asked to fill in a researcher application. Don’t forget to bring a photo ID with you!. After that, you will receive an identification card, that will be required every time you visit. 


Opening Hours: The reading room is opened from 9.00 am to 5.00pm weekdays. It is obviously closed for all Federal holidays. 


General working conditions: The reading room is not very big, probably can hold about 30 people. But the tables are spacious and comfortable. If memory serves me right, there are 1-2 computers with internet access also. There are lockers besides the reading room where you can store personal belongings. No pens, food and beverage (including water) are allowed, but pencils are fine.  


Consultation: Immediately following the orientation interview, you may turn in request slips for research material.  Subsequent requests will be pulled at 9:15, 10:15, 11:15, 1:15, 2:15, 3:15, and 4:15.  Requests will be held for the following day for interviews conducted after 4:30.  No material is retrieved between 11:15 and 1:15, except for first-time researchers arriving during this period.  Researchers here every day can hold one cart of material overnight. All material on hold  for a researcher will be refiled if you don’t return to the Reading Room within 3 working days.

Policy on technology: Researchers are welcome to use their own computers and typewriters in the Reading Room.  Transcribing devices are permissible as long as other researchers are not disturbed. Personal copiers and scanners are NOT permitted. The LBJ Library allows the use of digital cameras for copying documents in the Reading Room using the following procedures: Tell the Reading Room archivist that you will use a digital camera.  They will note this information on your Reference Service Record. You cannot use a flash or disturb other researchers while photographing document. copy documents from one folder at a time.   


Photocopy policy: Photocopies of documents may be ordered in the Reading Room.  In addition, a self-service copier is available in the Reading Room for copying from a limited number of collections. The Reading Room also has a microfilm reader-printer. The basic cost of photocopies is $.15 per page if you are a researcher conducting on-site research.  The cost is $.25 per page if you conduct your research by mail. Note:  you cannot take photocopies yourself and it can take about a month for copies to be posted to you after you order them, which of course means that you should allow yourself plenty of lead time if you want to have copies in-hand to begin writing. 


Particularities: No specific complaints to make regarding the archive itself. on a practical level, there is a certain lack of decent food options in the immediate area, besides a couple of sandwich joints and the cafeteria in the common buildings north of the Library.  


How to apply for classified files: If someone wants to access classified materials that are considered federal records, you can request those documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The web site contains a good amount of information related to how to contact the Library. However, it has to be noted that this particular library, they have very little material that can be opened through FOIA.  You would need to request the review of classified materials through the Mandatory Review program. 


Contact name in case of questions regarding classified files: The best bet for sending in such a request would be to send it to claudia.anderson@nara.gov.  She is the Supervisory Archivist and assigns all reference requests to the Archivist who is responsible for a particular area of research.


General Assessment: On a research level, I would wholeheartedly recommend this library for any students of 1960’s international history. The LBJL contains an enormous wealth of material, ranging from government papers, private papers, interviews and even the amusing “Johnson tapes”. Even for those, like myself, whose main subject of study is not American foreign policy as such, you can find extremely useful material for your research. 

In addition, in terms of secondary sources, the Library maintains a specialized book collection with an emphasis on the U.S. Presidency and the time period of Lyndon Johnson’s public service. The Library's secondary source material is supplemented by the vast resources of the UT library system.  UT libraries are open to the public for general use.  For rules governing borrowing policies, please call the Courtesy Borrowers Desk and Circulation Services at (+1) 512-495-4300 or visit their website at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/. If you have time, it is worthwhile checking out the LBJ museum. 

On a personal and human level, I would recommend it even more. True to the reputation that Americans in the South West are very hospitable, the staff in the reading room is extremely pleasant and helpful – after all you’re not likely to find many places in the world where the archivists would take you out for your birthday and insist on buying you drinks! Moreover, Austin itself is a pleasant town, famous for its large university and its music scene – 6th street and all the bars. Small warning, it does get stupidly hot during the summer.  

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