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

Mrs. Bush Announces $5 Million Pledge for School Libraries

Washington, D.C. -- Laura Bush today announced that more than $5 million has been pledged to start building an endowment for the Laura Bush Foundation for Americas Libraries. The announcement came at the close of Mrs. Bushs White House Conference on School Libraries, which addressed the newest research in library science and successful library programs. The conference included librarians, academians, foundation directors, and school board members.

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, said Mrs. Bush. Every child in America should have access to a well-stocked school library.

Mrs. Bush and co-host Dr. Robert Martin -- a career librarian and director of the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services -- were joined by education, library, government, and philanthropic leaders from across the country in highlighting the importance of school libraries in childrens education. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is a primary source of federal grants for the nations libraries and museums.

During her opening remarks, Mrs. Bush said, Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers, Mrs. Bush said. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.

The conference focused on what works in school libraries and provided up-to-date reports on policy, on the latest research, and on what makes a successful local library.

Dr. Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation, and former president of Brown University and the New York Public Library, spoke about the role that libraries play in promoting literacy, reading and education.

Christine DeVita, president of the DeWitt Wallace-Readers Digest Fund, spoke about the role of philanthropy in supporting school libraries. She noted that over the past decade, the Funds Library Power initiative helped more than 700 schools turn their libraries into stronger centers of teaching and learning.

Dr. Susan Neuman is the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the U.S. Department of Education. She spoke on the role that libraries play in elementary and secondary education and the importance of teacher-librarians working with teachers and students.

Dr. Keith Curry Lance, director of library research service in the Colorado Department of Educations State Library and Adult Education Office, is the author of many landmark library policy studies. He spoke about his research establishing the link between school libraries and student achievement.

A panel spoke about their experiences with students, teachers and school libraries. The panel included:

Dr. Steve Wisely, superintendent of Medford School District in Medford, Oregon;

Dr. Gary Hartzell, professor of educational administration and supervision at the University of Nebraska at Omaha;

Faye Kimsey-Pharr, principal of Lakeside Academy of Math, Science and Technology (an elementary school) in Chattanooga, Tennessee; and

Dr. Kathleen D. Smith, principal of Cherry Creek High School in Cherry Creek, Colorado.

At the close of the event, Mrs. Bush announced that Bill Marriott, chairman and CEO of Marriott International Inc., will serve as chairman of the Foundations leadership council, and John Bryan, retired chairman and CEO of Sara Lee Corporation, will serve as vice-chairman. Pam Willeford, who is chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, will serve as executive director and chairwoman of the advisory committee. The committee will develop the guidelines for grant applications.

For more information on the Laura Bush Foundation for Americas Libraries contact

Meg Pearson at the Community Foundation at 202-955-5890, or visit the website at

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