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George W. Bush records now open

DALLAS — The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on Monday began accepting Freedom of Information Act requests for records from Bush’s presidency.

The day marks five years from the end of Bush’s presidency, on Jan. 20, 2009. Access to the records is governed by the Presidential Records Act, which says the records may be requested by the public five years after a presidential administration ends.

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‘‘We’re really looking forward to this new chapter of the library,’’ said Brooke Clement, supervisory archivist for the library. ‘‘We’ve been systemically processing and this is going to be a whole new way of processing for us . . . essentially processing toward what the public is requesting.’’

The requests must come in written format — e-mail, mail, or fax — and must state that the request is being made under the Freedom of Information Act. While requests could have been sent starting Monday, staff members were off for the federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They return to work Tuesday.

The library, which opened last year on the Southern Methodist University campus, notes the process will take time and cited factors including the volume and complexity of presidential records.

Some records remain closed until 12 years after a president leaves office. Also, some materials related to personal privacy and national security remain closed.

The archives include 70 million pages of text, 43,000 artifacts, 200 million e-mails, and more than 4 million photographs.

A glimpse at some of the holdings can be seen in the museum, which has displays on topics including education reform, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and efforts to fight the spread of AIDS.

Artifacts on display include the bullhorn Bush used after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to address a crowd of rescue workers at ground zero in New York City.

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