U.S. News

Reagan Library faulted for missing mementos

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library has been asked to carry out a full inventory and improve security after an audit found tens of thousands of mementos unaccounted for.

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National Archives Inspector General Paul Brachfeld said on Thursday that the Reagan Library complex, outside Los Angeles, could account for only 20,000 of an estimated 100,000 items in its collection.

“We found a significant breakdown in internal controls at the Ronald Reagan Library,” Brachfeld said in a statement.

“This does not automatically mean the approximately 80,000 remaining items are missing. ... Some of these items may be missing or stolen, or none of these items may be missing or stolen,” he said.

The library commemorates Reagan’s life through exhibits of papers, political gifts, letters, artworks and other items associated with his career from actor to U.S. president. Reagan died in 2004 at age 93.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday that the National Archives audit found the library “may have experienced loss or pilferage the scope of which will likely never be known.”

The newspaper quoted Brachfeld as saying his office was investigating charges that a former employee stole Reagan memorabilia but the probe was hampered by lax record-keeping.

The Reagan Library declined to comment but U.S. National Archivist Allen Weinstein said the recent audit completed at six of the 12 U.S. presidential libraries had found “particular issues” at the Reagan Library over inventory control, storage and internal monitoring.

The Los Angeles Times said the audit found artworks were stacked on top of one another or scattered around and several items in unpacked boxes in storage areas were missing.

Weinstein said the audit recommended that the Reagan Library carry out a complete inventory, upgrade its inventory software and address storage issues. The library has started the process and was also hiring additional trained staff, he said.

“Like all of the Presidential Libraries, the Reagan Library stores their gifts in a locked vault which is protected by a security camera,” Weinstein added.

The 12 presidential libraries represent heads of state from Herbert Hoover to Bill Clinton. They are built with private money and then deeded to the National Archives to be held in trust for the public.