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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 4, 2002

Closing Remarks by Mrs. Bush at the White House Conference on School Libraries
As Delivered
The East Room

Thank you, Chris DeVita. I also want to thank all of our speakers and presenters. You were just great. Thank you for informing us, inspiring us, and entertaining us.

A love of books — of holding a book, turning its pages, looking at its pictures, and living its fascinating stories goes hand-in-hand with a love of learning. And every child in America should have access to a well-stocked school or community library.

Community and school library budgets, which are limited to begin with, are being stretched to their limits to accommodate printed material, electronic material, and computer equipment. Librarians must struggle to balance the budget and the needs of their communities.

I am excited to announce that the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries, which is a part of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, will help bring books to inner-city, rural, school and community libraries.

Bill Marriott will serve as chairman of the Foundation's leadership council, and John Bryan will serve as vice-chairman.

Pam Willeford has agreed to serve as executive director and chairwoman of the advisory committee. The committee will develop the guidelines for grant applications.

The Foundation is off to a great start. So far gifts have topped $5 million dollars. That says a lot about our commitment to libraries and the children they serve.

Several donors have made substantial contributions toward endowing the Foundation, including Dorothy Yao, Bill Marriott and Ruth Altschuler.

And very generous gifts have been made by Barbara Bush, Mr. and Mrs. Marshall B. Payne, Mr. and Mrs. Craig Stapleton, Mr. Joseph C. Canizaro and Dr. Dennis S. O'Leary. Thank you all.

Your support means that school libraries can extend their collections, from fact and fiction to periodicals and prize-winning books. It means that a teacher can use books from a selection of multi-lingual literature. It means that a child can pick up a book -- and visit places and learn about people he might not have known existed.

What a pleasure it has been — the fulfillment of a dream, in fact — to meet with you today and to announce the leadership and first major gifts for the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries. An investment in libraries is an investment in our children's future. Thank you for coming.

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