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"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 school's professional team are basic ingredients for student achievement," said the First Lady.

“School libraries help teachers teach and children learn,” noted First Lady Laura Bush at a White House Conference on School Libraries on June 4. Co-hosted with Dr. Robert Martin, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the conference featured a distinguished group of speakers and panel of practitioners sharing their research and experiences on “what works in school libraries.”

“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 school’s professional team are basic ingredients for student achievement,” said the First Lady, a former public school teacher and librarian.

Emphasizing the vital role libraries play in education and the importance of literacy, Dr. Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation, remarked, “Our nation cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of having one-fifth of its population illiterate: for reading is a means to education; education is a means to knowledge; knowledge is a means to power and a bright future.”

Christine DeVita, president of the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds, demonstrated the role of philanthropies in improving school libraries with a description of Library Power, their effort to revitalize elementary and middle school libraries. “Library Power has helped renovate library space, purchase new books, map library resources to the goals of the classroom curriculum, and create professional development opportunities and tools for teachers and librarians,” she said.

Susan Neuman, assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, discussed a William Penn Foundation study of public libraries in varying communities across Philadelphia, stressing the extra help students need to fully benefit from libraries. “[A]ll children will not use the materials to their fullest extent without supportive adults and librarians who will [create] an informational society that provides access to all,” she said, stressing the importance of teacher-librarian collaboration.

In her closing remarks, the First Lady announced the new leadership council of the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s LibrariesBill Marriott will serve as chairman. The foundation was established in 2001 to bring books to inner-city and rural school libraries.

“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,” Bush said. “And every child in America should have access to a well-stocked school or community library.”

For more information on the foundation, the conference or the speakers’ full presentations.

THE ANNENBERG CHALLENGE: Lessons and Reflections on School Reform 

Billionaire Walter H. Annenberg‘s gift spread $1.1 billion among 2,400 schools generating modest gains among participating schools, but falling short of the dramatic gains envisioned when the Annenberg Challenge was launched in 1993.

A report released last week by the Annenberg Challenge found that the philanthropist’s initial $500 million investment, which was later matched by $600 million from corporations, philanthropies and other benefactors, “did not work miracles, but it breathed new life into American education. It brought hope to schools that had been all but abandoned . . . [and] changed the public’s beliefs about what is possible in public education.”

Annenberg’s gift funded 18 projects around the country, which then made grants to individual schools to improve teacher training and reduce class size. Benefits of the program included higher achievement in some schools, a renewed interest in arts education, and new community support for public education.

Complete report


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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.