First Lady Laura Bush Presents Nation's Highest Award to Libraries for Extraordinary Service to Communities

Contact: Bernadette Murphy, Press Officer
ALA Washington Office
March 14, 2005

First Lady Laura Bush presents nation’s highest award to libraries

for extraordinary service to communities

(Washington, D.C.) – First Lady Laura Bush presented the 2004 National Awards for Museum and Library Service to three libraries and three museums at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The awards are conferred annually by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to institutions that have demonstrated a perpetual, long-term commitment to public service through innovative programs and community partnerships.

The libraries receiving the awards this year are: the Flint Public Library, Flint, Michigan; Mayaguez Children’s Library, Inc., Mayaguez, Puerto Rico; and The Regional Academic Health Center Medical Library of the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas.

The Flint Public Library is being recognized for the extraordinary work of its dedicated staff, its wide array of offerings and its collaborative relationships with foundations and community groups. The library is also being recognized as a place for research, scholarship and personal advancement. With its extensive reference department, local history and genealogy resources, bookmobile and vast children’s collection, the Flint Public Library is a true testament to the power of lifelong learning.

The Mayaguez Children’s Library is the first children’s library in the Caribbean region to provide a Special Needs Center for visually impaired and physically challenged children and is a true oasis for children and teens in need of programs that promote literacy and emphasize the importance of staying in school. It was founded by members of the community, and is a private non-profit organization unaffiliated with the government.

The Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) Medical Library, is an integral part of its low-income community. It provides general health information to residents, many of whom lack transportation to medical facilities and face language and cultural barriers. In partnership with community-based organizations, lay women outreach workers known as
promotoras are trained by librarians to use laptop computers with wireless Internet access to share important health information with residents of the community’s substandard housing developments.

American Library Association President Carol Brey-Casiano said, “the American Library Association extends our heartfelt congratulations to the libraries being honored this year by IMLS. In communities across the country, libraries of all kinds help people get job training, start new businesses, find homework help, and enrich their lives. The Flint Public Library, the Mayaguez Children’s Library, and
The Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) Medical Library are shining examples of how libraries are at the heart of so many American communities.”

The National Award for Library Service was established in 2000. Recipients of the awards are chosen for their innovative approaches to public service, and for their success in improving communities and making a difference in peoples’ lives. Public and private nonprofit libraries are eligible to receive this award, and nominations of libraries of all sizes are encouraged.