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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
January 22, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at National Awards for Museum and Library Service Ceremony
The East Room

3:00 P.M. EST

MRS. BUSH: Welcome to the White House. There is perhaps no greater joy for a librarian than to celebrate the contributions that libraries and museums make in our lives. As a child, the Midland Public Library was my favorite place to go. And spending time reading with my mother was my favorite thing to do.

For me, and for many Americans, libraries and museums are centers of learning in our communities. Along with our homes and our schools, they provide the foundation for learning throughout our lives.

Today, we honor six exemplary learning institutions that have strengthened the foundations of their community. I commend the Bozeman Public Library, the Carnegie Science Center, the U.S.S. Constitution Museum, the Pocahontas County Free Libraries, the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts and the Free Library of Philadelphia for enriching their communities.

And I want to thank the sponsors of these awards for championing the great work of museums and libraries. And thanks also to Dr. Bob Martin and to all the members of the Institute of Museum and Library Services for advancing the mission of America's great learning institutions.

President Bush and I are committed to strengthening America's libraries and museums. In his 2005 budget, the President has proposed a 14 percent increase for IMLS. President Bush has also proposed an increase of $12 million for the Library Grants Program, and over $3 million for the 21st Century Librarian Program. With this additional funding, IMLS can continue to support museums and libraries and a nation of lifelong learners. And supporting lifelong learning is the ultimate goal of museums and libraries today.

Times have changed since I was a little girl in Midland, but the need for museums and libraries has not. The museums and libraries we honor today have developed innovative partnerships and programs for learners of all ages, from babies to baby boomers to seniors.

Librarians at the Bozeman Public Library in Montana know that reading to babies is critical, for -- so that babies develop their cognitive skills. Through their Books and Babies program, babies are introduced to books and language and parents learn the importance of reading to young children.

Chuck Knighton from Bozeman has also learned that libraries can be a great parenting partner. Chuck admits that he wasn't prepared to be social director for a one-year-old when his wife went back to work. But at the library, he can spend quality time with his son, Jack, and teach him lessons that will last a lifetime. Chuck said, my hope is that Jack and I can share adventures that will allow us to visit strange and fantastic worlds and even attend the Hogwart School of Wizardry. (Laughter.) And when Jack is ready to go to school, he'll find museums and libraries at work in his classroom.

The U.S.S. Constitution Museum in Boston has created curriculum about Old Ironsides for elementary and high school students across the country. The curriculum includes an interactive video, activities sheets, and lesson plans for teachers. Teachers from the Austin Independent School District in Texas report that eighth graders who studied the curriculum have improved their scores on the state assessment test.

Museums and libraries play a vital role in teaching children about their past but they also help prepare them for the future. Thirteen-year-old Mareena Woodbury-Moore discovered that she loves teaching, thanks to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. Their Science Explorers program prepares eighth graders for a career in science with college preparatory classes and paid internships. Through her internship, Mareena visits local schools and teaches younger children about science. She especially liked conducting the experiment that showed how to make vanilla ice cream. (Laughter.) Maybe because they got to eat the results. (Laughter.) Mareena says this program has taught her how fun science can be, and she learned through hands on experiments instead of just through books.

In museums and libraries, young people like Mareena are learning new and amazing things about science and literature, and about themselves. They're discovering who they are and who they can become. Librarians at the Free Library of Philadelphia inspired Khaleef Aye to attend college. He joined the Free Library as a teen leadership assistant in the Learn, Enjoy and Play After School program. In libraries across the city, young people like Khaleef teach children about computers and help them with their homework. Khaleef continues to volunteer at the library and he will graduate from college next year.

Even though she's years away from college, eight year old Ashley Gonzales wants to be a famous painter some day. She may want to be a doctor, too, but an artist first. Ashley developed her love of painting in the Arts for Kids program sponsored by the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts and the San Angelo Boys and Girls Club. Painting at the museum once a week has improved Ashley's self-confidence and she's doing better in school. Ashley's favorite things to paint are flowers and her rabbit, Scooter. All of us hope we'll see an original Ashley Gonzales in a museum some day.

As museums and libraries help prepare a new generation of learners, they remind us that we're never too old to learn something new. To preserve the rich history of Marlinton, West Virginia, the Pocahontas County Free Libraries created a heritage room for local history and genealogy research. With the help of lifetime residents like Jane Price Sharp, the libraries also sponsor a number of initiatives including a veterans oral history project. Jane is a vital part of the history of Pocahontas County. She promotes the importance of libraries and lifelong learning through the Pocahontas Times, which her family has owned since 1892.

Nearly every resident of Pocahontas reads the Times and even at age 84, Jane is still at work six days a week. Jane said, the library is the center of our lives. It helps people learn, and you can never learn too much.

Thanks to the museums and libraries we honor today, Americans of all ages are discovering the greatest lesson of all, and that is learning is lifelong.

Now I'm going to introduce our very esteemed Dr. Bob Martin, who is the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Dr. Martin has been instrumental in helping advance the mission of America's museums and libraries and he strengthened their ability to remain vibrant repositories of life and learning.

I've been told that he spends so much time in libraries and museums, he was once mistaken as part of an exhibit. (Laughter.) Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Robert Martin. (Applause.)

* * * * *

MRS. BUSH: Congratulations again to all the winners of the national awards for museum and library service. And thank you for your really great work in your communities, for your communities, the people of your communities and for our country. Thank you a lot.

President James Madison said, what spectacle could be more edifying or more seasonable than that of liberty of learning, each leaning against the other for their mutual and surest support. America's museums and libraries will forever support the principles that make our country strong and free and they will continue to light the way to liberty and learning for generations to come.

Thank you all so much for being here. And congratulations again to our award winners. And now if you'll join me in the dining room for the reception. (Applause.)

3:15 P.M. EST


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