Magazine article Teacher Librarian

Opening Remarks

Magazine article Teacher Librarian

Opening Remarks

Article excerpt

JUNE 4, 2002

Welcome to the White House Conference on School Libraries. One of America's greatest advocates for reading and books is here with me today ... my mother-in-law, Barbara Bush.

Several distinguished members from Congress are here ...

--Senator Ted Kennedy;

--Senator Arlen Specter;

--Congressman Ralph Regula; and

--Senator Jack Reed.

Welcome.

When I was a child, one of my most prized possessions was my library card from the Midland Public Library. I am fortunate that my mother took me to get my library card at an early age. In fact, that was the first card I carried in my wallet, and I used it throughout my childhood to borrow books from what seemed to me to be a vast and inexhaustible collection.

That card was my passport to visit a little house on the prairie, sail across the ocean on a whaling ship, or travel back in time. These childhood adventures are not mine alone ... they belong to any child who has the chance to browse a library's bookshelves.

Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open. In his essay titled, "In Defense of the Book," William H. Gass writes:

   "The library is meant to satisfy the curiosity of the curious ... provide a
   place for the lonely where they may enjoy the companionship and warmth of
   the word. (The library) supplies handbooks for the handy, novels for
   insomniacs ... scholarship for the scholarly, and makes available works of
   literature to those people they will eventually haunt so successfully.

Today's discussion is all about libraries ... school libraries, community libraries--places that are designed to enrich lives and learning.

I want to welcome our guest speakers today--

--Dr. …

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