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AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION

2005 ALA ANNUAL CONFERENCE

OPENING GENERAL SESSION

Saturday, June 25, 2005 – 5:30-7:00 p.m.

McCormick Place Convention Center,Chicago, Illinois

 

Text of speech by Mayor Richard M. Daley


 

KAREN DANCZAK LYONS:  Good evening. On behalf of the Local Arrangements Committee, the Chicago Public Library and all the librarians from Chicago, it is my pleasure to extend a warm welcome …..

(Laughter.)

…to the ALA members, exhibitors, international visitors and others who will be the special guests of the City of Chicago during the upcoming week.

 

From the Taste of Chicago now going on in Grant Park to our beautiful lakefront, our world class architecture and museums, our shopping and restaurants, and a multitude of other attractions, Chicago has something for every taste and for every budget.  We're proud of our beautiful city and we love to share it with visitors, so please stop by our booth and talk to us about how to make the most of your time here. 

 

It is now my very special pleasure to introduce Chicago's Mayor, the Honorable     (loud noise)   it's a sign  

(Laughter.)

...the Honorable Richard M. Daley.

(Applause.)

 

If he can make it thunder, maybe he could get us a fresh breeze, too, off the lake.

(Laughter.)

 

Mayor Daley has earned a national reputation for his innovative community based programs to address education, public safety, neighborhood development and other challenges facing American cities.  Mayor Daley's accomplishments are too numerous to list here, but I want to highlight his achievements in just a few areas. 

First, we applaud his appreciation of the role of libraries as the anchor of the community and his tremendous support for libraries.

(Applause.)

 

Mayor Daley has turned his commitment into action and into concrete results. Mayor Daley has been responsible for the construction of an amazing 45 new or fully renovated libraries to date.

(Applause.)

 

And by the end of the year, we will be opening another seven new libraries.

(Applause.)

 

But most importantly, he has given us the support and the resources to provide library service by hiring and promoting librarians and support staff.

(Loud cheers and applause.)

 

And I have to let you know that we are actively recruiting, so stop by our recruitment booth.

(Laughter.)

 

We're also proud of the resources that he has given us to develop library leaders through staff and organizational development.

 

An education mayor, Mayor Daley and his management team have closed a $1.8 billion deficit, made homework mandatory, ended social promotion of under performing students, improved school safety, established book clubs in every public high school, and invested $4 billion in capital improvements.

 

Recently, Mayor Daley's pushed especially hard to improve reading, increase parental involvement in education and expand after-school and summer programs and early childhood education. As a result, student scores on standardized tests have risen consistently since 1995, and we've passed national norms in some areas.

 

Mayor Daley's focus on quality of life concerns has led to greater emphasis on the delivery of basic services, from removing graffiti and deteriorating buildings to creating more green space and a citywide recycling program.   I think many of you have noticed it.

(Applause.)

 

Since he became mayor, the city has planted more than 400,000 trees, created 100 school campus parks, built 68 miles of landscaped street medians and spurred the construction of rooftop gardens on major buildings, including City Hall.

(Applause.)

 

The beautiful flowers that greet our visitors at our airports and that enhance the downtown as well as our neighborhoods are a very visible result of Mayor Daley's beautification plan.

(Applause.)

 

In 2004, Mayor Daley opened Millennium Park, the most ambitious public-private undertaking in Chicago's history.  Constructed over railroad tracks and parking lots in downtown Chicago, the widely acclaimed showplace of architecture and the arts features a spectacular band shell designed by Frank Gehry; a popular reflecting sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor; an interactive fountain designed by Jaume Plensa; a garden designed by Kathryn Gustafson; a theater for music and dance; restaurant and an ice rink. Put Millennium Park on your must-see list for this week!

 

In April 2005, Time Magazine named Mayor Daley "the nation's best big-city mayor."  We couldn't agree more.

(Cheers and applause.)

 

 

MAYOR DALEY:   Thank you, Karen.  Good evening.  Thank you very much. 

(Applause continues.)

 

Thank you very much, Karen Danczak Lyons, our Acting Commissioner, Mary Dempsey, our former Commissioner, members of the Chicago Public Library Board, our wonderful volunteers and staff.   I'd like to recognize Carol Brey-Casiano, the President of the American Library Association, the members of the Executive Board and all the members of the Association, and also recognize Senator Barack Obama who will speak very shortly. 

First, I want to welcome you to Chicago and to the 2005 American Library Association Annual Conference.   You're in the number one city for libraries, I believe, in the world. I want to thank  

(Applause.) 

    and we're very proud of that.

 

I want to thank you for coming back to Chicago on behalf of many people who work in our convention industry, the hotels and restaurants, all those that are involved, many of the people that you meet every day at a convention.   I really appreciate the convention being here. It's helped many people to support their families, and all of us appreciate that.  And we're very proud of Chicago. We're very proud of our commitment to working here, living and most importantly, raising families here.

 

I believe part of the city and the commitment we have made is the capital improvements.   I look at libraries as a learning experience.  They are part of the education system.  It was never separate.  When I became mayor, I said, “This is part and parcel of our educational commitment. It is not separate.  We need libraries.”

(Applause.)

 

They are just as important as building police stations.  We're building fire stations, senior citizen buildings, schools and libraries because, really, they become the anchors of a community.  When somebody sees a library being built in their community, what they see is confidence in the community. Then, in turn, we work with the public and private schools, we work with all the organizations to assist everyone in getting library cards.  We make sure that everyone has a library card.

(Applause.)

 

That library becomes part of our economic development, and that's the key. It's called economic development.  When one hears about a library, all of a sudden new homes go in. People say we’re now invested in the community.  That's why our library system, I believe, is one of the finest in the world.  It’s part of the capital improvement program. 

 

But most importantly, I have to give credit to our taxpayers.  They have allowed me to invest in libraries, and, yes, to increase taxes for libraries.

(Applause.)

 

The Chicago Public Library is one of the few systems in the country that is both building new libraries and hiring new librarians.

 

Since 1989, the City of Chicago has built or renovated over 45 libraries. In just this year, seven more libraries are under construction across the city and will open in 2005.

(Applause.)

 

It's not just the building itself.  It's basically working with the community, bringing the community into community centers.  That is the key.  It's used constantly. 

 

The Chicago Public Library is part of our public school system. In 1995 I became the only mayor who took over a public school system.  I have sole responsibility for our public school system.  The first thing I said is that the libraries are part and parcel of our educational experience.  They're not separate and they're not independent.  They will be involved in educating our young children here in the City of Chicago.  I want to thank the Board, I want to thank Mary Dempsey and Karen Danczak Lyons for putting so many programs together. 

It is amazing. Not just during summer reading programs, but also during the year, they become a resource for the school.  They become part of the school in regards to the books, technology and all the other things that go into a library and most importantly, in reading clubs.  They're the ones who took my idea and said, “We're going to have reading clubs in every high school, in every elementary school.”  And they became the resource for us.  They became the moderators who went into the schools and started organizing each school, both elementary and high schools. I deeply appreciate that. They put reading programs together, summer programs together. 

 

We have the largest summer reading program here in the City of Chicago.  Why? Because we know the key to education is reading.  The key to education is making the library accessible to all: new immigrants, senior citizens and children and families in the communities.

(Applause.)

 

And I tell my fellow mayors, be not afraid.

(Laughter.)

 

Be not afraid.  When you believe in something, and if your parents gave you opportunities, gave you moral values and gave you a good education, you should have the same concept of giving children and other people a good education. It does not belong solely in a school.  It belongs in the library.

 

I want to thank all the librarians in both private and public libraries for their great public service.  You're the ones who have made a commitment to our great country.  You're the ones who really provided this great system that we have, the public library system in America. We must keep it strong.  We should never, ever allow the Federal government to interfere with the library system in this country.

(Loud cheers and applause.)

 

The Federal government should be promoting libraries, helping us in infrastructure, helping us with technology.  What is happening today is really unfortunate. They're constantly interfering with libraries without giving us one cent -- although maybe we don't want their one cent, either.

(Laughter.)

 

I believe in local government.  I believe local government is always making changes. Here in the City of Chicago, I want to thank the Public Library Board, I want to thank Karen Danczak Lyons and Mary Dempsey, but most importantly I want to thank the Chicago residents. They really believe in what you're doing. 

 

I want to say thank you on behalf of all those who have an opportunity to use your libraries, not only in Chicago but also throughout the country, because you make a difference.  When you help a child, you help another generation. 

 

Thank you and welcome to Chicago.

(Applause.)

(Applause continues.)

 

 

PRES. BREY-CASIANO: Thank you so much. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to welcome our attendees. 

 

[To the audience:] On behalf of the American Library Association, we do thank him for his continued support of libraries, don't we?

(Applause.)

 

 

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