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Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the National Churchill Library and Center at GW’s Gelman Library.

1. How did the National Churchill Library and Center (NCLC) get started?

a. The International Churchill Society, a 501(c)(3) international educational organization devoted to preserving the legacy of Winston Churchill, agreed to provide initial funding for the construction of the National Churchill Library and Center (NCLC) at The George Washington University (GW). ICS's Board, the Chairman, Laurence Geller, CBE, and Dr. Stephen J. Trachtenberg, GW’s president emeritus, shared an interest in Winston Churchill. They recognized the need for a major research facility in the nation’s capital dedicated to the study of Winston Churchill.

2. What’s the relationship between The International Churchill Society (ICS) and the National Churchill Library and Center (NCLC)?

a. Although both ICS and George Washington University are separate nonprofit organizations, they are cooperating to create the NCLC. The ICS is providing the initial funding to create the NCLC, and GW is providing the space and intellectual capital to establish this new program.

b. ICS will maintain its independence as a separate 501(c)3 organization, continuing to work on its broader mission: to foster leadership, statesmanship, vision, courage and boldness among democratic and freedom-loving peoples worldwide, through the thoughts, words, works, and deeds of Winston Spencer Churchill. There will be discussions to determine how best ICS and GW will collaborate to achieve our common goals. However, there have been no discussions of integrating the International Churchill Society with the NCLC or of GW taking on any of ICS's programming, such as the production of its revered publication, The Finest Hour. Although GW’s NCLC is a separate program from ICS, it will only be successful in collaboration with ICS and other Churchill-related organizations in the US, UK, and elsewhere. The NCLC looks forward to working closely with ICS, the National Churchill Museum (Fulton, MO), the Churchill War Rooms and Museum (UK), Chartwell (Churchill’s family home operated by the UK National Trust), the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College (University of Cambridge), as well as members of the Churchill family. The NCLC will join together with these and other organizations to meet the common goal of utilizing the legacy of Winston Churchill to bring greater understanding to the world.

3. How will the NCLC operate? How will it be governed?

a. As a component of GW and the Gelman Library, the NCLC will report through the Provost (the university’s chief academic officer) to GW’s President. Working closely with the faculty, students, the public, and the other Churchill-related organizations is and will remain essential to the ongoing success of the program. Thus, the NCLC plans to create an Advisory Council to provide guidance, connections, programming, and fundraising assistance.

b. Once the facility is constructed, the NCLC will develop a strategic plan. This plan will guide collection development, programming decisions, and ensure the program is on an appropriate path for growth. As is always the case at GW, there will be many opportunities for faculty, student, and public comment and input.

4. Why locate the NCLC in Washington, DC?

a. Washington, DC, provides an ideal backdrop for the study of one of history's most influential leaders in politics and government. Downtown Washington is dotted with policymaking institutions like the IMF and World Bank; government agencies such as the U.S. State Department and numerous foreign embassies; and educational organizations like the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress.

b. These resources make Washington a prime location for the National Churchill Library and Center, both because of its proximity to the rich historical and intellectual resources in the area, and its attraction as a domestic and international visitor destination.

5. Why the George Washington University?

a. Located in the heart of Washington, DC, just four blocks from the White House, The George Washington University is uniquely positioned to enhance awareness of and scholarship about Winston Churchill. GW is a world-class research university with 1,600 full-time faculty, many with particular strength in government, history, and international affairs. The Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library – GW's main library in which the Center will be located – contains nearly two million volumes, including a dedicated Special Collections Research Center that houses rare and antiquarian books, historical recordings, and artifacts. The Library also boasts a Manuscript and Rare Maps and Books Division that specializes in the preservation of historic materials.

6. What’s the focus of the NCLC? What will it do?

a. GW’s NCLC will focus on inspiring new scholarship about Churchill’s life, leadership, and place in world history; it will explore the relevance of lessons learned and the example for the challenges facing the world today; and it will provide a unique opportunity for GW students, Churchill scholars, and the general public to study this multifaceted figure.

b. The NCLC will house a small collection of print and electronic Churchill resource materials. In addition, the NCLC will educate new generations about Churchill by working closely with GW programs in law, international affairs, communication, public policy and other areas to integrate these historical materials into the academics of the university.

c. For the immediate term, GW is focused on getting the NCLC up and running, including assisting with the fundraising, developing the physical space, building solid working relationships with other organizations interested in Winston Churchill, and planning the kinds of programming that will stimulate students, interest the public, and advance scholarship.

d. When running at full capacity, the NCLC will provide an unprecedented opportunity for scholars, students and the general public to learn from Churchill's life and leadership in the heart of this nation's capital.

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