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Construction of the library began in 1988, and the center was dedicated on November 4, 1991. The dedication ceremonies were the first time in United States history that five United States Presidents gathered together in the same place: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. Six First Ladies also attended: Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush.

When the Reagan Library opened it was the largest of the presidential libraries (with roughly 153,000 square feet). It held that title until the dedication of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 18, 2004.

With the opening of the 90,000-square-foot Air Force One Pavilion in October 2005, the Reagan Library reclaimed the title in terms of physical size; however, the Clinton Library remains the largest presidential library in terms of materials (documents, artifacts, photographs, etc.). Like all presidential libraries since that of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Reagan Library was built entirely with private donations, at a cost of US$60 million.

For fiscal year 2007, the Reagan Library had 305,331 visitors, making it the second-most visited presidential library, following the Lyndon B. Johnson Library; that was down from its fiscal year 2006 number of 440,301 visitors, when it was the most visited library.

As a Presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, the Reagan Library, under the authority of the Presidential Records Act, is the repository of presidential records for Reagan?s administration. Holdings include 50 million pages of presidential documents, over 1.6 million photographs, a half million feet of motion picture film and tens of thousands of audio and video tapes. The Library also houses personal papers collections including documents from Reagan?s eight years as Governor of California.
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