Clinton spoke to a rain-soaked crowd of thousands at the dedication of the $165 million William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock.
"The thing I want most is for people to come to this library, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, to see that public service is noble and important," he said, as a soldier held an umbrella over his head.
President George W. Bush chronicled Clinton's past from a humble home in Hope, Ark., to the governorship of Arkansas and eventually two terms in the White House.
"Visitors to this place will be reminded of the great promise of our country and the dreams that came true in the life of our 42nd president," he said. "The William J. Clinton presidential library is a gift to the future by a man who always believed in the future."