June 4, 2002
Washington White House Conference on School Libraries
Checks Out Lessons for Success
DC - First Lady Laura Bush hosted a White House Conference
on School Libraries today featuring the latest research
and model programs. “School libraries help teachers
teach and children learn,” noted Mrs. Bush,
a former public school teacher and librarian. “Children
and teachers need library resources – especially
books - and the expertise of a librarian to succeed.
Books, information technology, and school librarians
who are part of the schools’ professional team
are basic ingredients for student achievement,”
Mrs. Bush said.
Bush and her 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. The Institute of Museum and Library Services
is a primary source of federal grants for the nation’s
libraries and museums.
Martin said, “Mrs. Bush’s passion for
reading, education and teaching is a great gift to
our nation and to our nation’s children. We
are delighted to have a librarian in the White House.
And now we have the research to affirm what she has
long known: good school libraries enhance children’s
learning. Working together, equipped with the best
research and examples of proven school library programs,
librarians, teachers and school leaders can make a
difference in student achievement.”
Martin noted, that “ research shows that reading
scores for students in schools that focus on improving
their library programs are, on average, eight to 21
percent higher than similar schools without such development.
This holds true even when other factors like community
demographics are taken into account.”
conference focused on “what works in school
libraries” with up-to-the-minute reports on
policy, the latest research, successful local programs
and innovative approaches to funding.
Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation
and former President of Brown University and the New
York Public Library, spoke about the central role
of libraries in literacy, reading and education.
Susan Neuman, the Assistant Secretary for Elementary
and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education,
is a former Professor and Director of the Center for
the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement at the
University of Michigan and has taught at Temple University,
Boston College, the University of Massachusetts at
Lowell and Yale University. She spoke on the critical
importance of children’s access to books and
the role of libraries in elementary and secondary
education, and the importance of “teacher-librarians”
working with both teachers and students.
Keith Curry Lance, Director of Library Research Service,
State Library and Adult Education Office of the Colorado
Department of Education, is the author of many landmark
library studies. He spoke about his research establishing
the link between school libraries and student achievement.
panel of practitioners demonstrated how to put the
theory to work for children and teachers. Dr. Steve
Wisely, Professor and Superintendent, Medford School
District, Medford, Oregon; Dr. Gary Hartzell, Professor,
Educational Administration and Supervision, University
of Nebraska at Omaha; Faye Kimsey-Pharr, Elementary
School Principal, Lakeside Academy of Math, Science
and Technology, Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Dr. Kathleen
D. Smith, High School Principal, Cherry Creek High
School, Cherry Creek, Colorado, spoke about their
experiences with students, teachers and school libraries.
DeVita, President, DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest
Fund, spoke about the role of philanthropy in enhancing
school libraries. “Tall Tree, the Reader’s
Digest Foundation Library Initiative launched in 1995,
is reshaping the educational landscape by showing
how schools and libraries together can enrich children’s
learning experiences,” said Ms. DeVita.
the close of the event, Mrs. Bush announced the names
of the Leadership Council and Advisory Committee members
who will lead the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s
Libraries. Mr. J. W. (Bill) Marriott Jr., Chairman
and CEO of Marriott International, will be Chairman
of the Foundation’s Leadership Council. He is
being joined by Mr. John H. Bryan, former Chairman
of the Board of the Sara Lee Corporation, as Vice-Chairman,
and by other outstanding national business leaders.
Mrs. Pam Willeford will serve as Executive Director
and Chairman of the Foundation’s Advisory Committee.
Foundation was established in July, 2001, to help
bring books to inner-city and rural school libraries.
Mrs. Bush said, “the dedication and enthusiasm
of the business leaders, philanthropists, teachers,
librarians, and scholars who are leading the Foundation
will help to put much needed books into the hands
of young readers across the country.”
Bush noted in closing the conference, “A good
library launches young children on a journey of exploration
and discovery, teaching them how to ask questions
and find answers. And the wonderful thing is that
once you learn to use a library, the doors to learning
are open to you throughout your life.”