Honoring Outstanding Museums and Libraries

Uploaded by whitehouse on 17.12.2010

Mrs. Obama: Welcome to the White House.
It is wonderful to have you all here.
You've got snow, you've got Christmas,
it's the best time of year.
So, welcome.
I am so pleased that all of you could join us today as we award
the 2010 National Medals for Museum and Library Service to
10 outstanding libraries and museums from across the country.
I want to start by acknowledging the members of Congress who are
here with us today.
I want to thank all of you for taking the time
to join us during a very busy time of the year.
But this is an important occasion and we wanted to
make sure that everyone could be a part of it.
I particularly want to recognize our guests of honor today,
this year's medal winners, for your tremendous contributions
to our communities.
Now, from the looks of things, you all are a pretty diverse bunch.
You come from every corner of the country,
from big cities and from small towns.
And your programming involves everything from puppetry and
gardening to Civil War battles and science experiments.
But you're here today because you all share the same
commitment to excellence, the same determination to serve
your communities, and the same spirit of innovation.
You're here because you've challenged the conventional
notions of what a library or museum can and should be,
pushing the boundaries of what's possible,
embracing new ideas and approaches.
At Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, for example,
guests don't just view historical re-enactments;
they actually become part of them.
On one visit, they might be pioneers,
living on the prairie in the early 1800s.
On the next visit, they might be fugitive slaves,
risking their lives for a chance at freedom.
At Patchogue-Medford Library, which serves a large Hispanic
population, they have a "Language Café" where
English-speaking and Spanish-speaking teenagers
can meet to practice their language skills with one other.
And the Rangeview Library District hasn't just gotten
rid of the Dewey Decimal system.
They've actually eliminated overdue fines.
And I understand they've even made T-shirts that read "Shhh
is a four letter word."
And you all don't just think in different ways.
You actually think in very big ways.
Your work has never just been limited to the four walls of
your institutions.
Instead, you bring what you have to offer to as many people as
possible, reaching out to underserved populations,
finding creative ways to stretch your resources as
far as they can go.
The Nashville Public Library has opened up their collection to
high schools across the city.
So today, students can get online, check out a book,
and have it delivered right to their own school library.
At Explora, they don't just bring kids to the museum;
they bring the museums to the kids,
creating more than 200 science education programs that travel
to every county in the state.
And the Japanese American National Museum hosted a
conference that brought together folks from all across the
country to discuss topics ranging from diversity to
civil liberties to social justice.
But while some of your work may be national in scope,
ultimately your most powerful impact is local.
Each of you is an integral part of your community.
Each of you strives every day to meet the needs of the people who
walk through your doors.
And that's particularly true in times of challenge and crisis,
when many of you offer vital services,
stepping up to be there for folks when they need
you the most.
For example, the New York Botanical Garden started the
Bronx Green-up revitalization program,
and they helped plant hundreds of school and community gardens
in struggling neighborhoods so that families could grow their
own fresh produce.
When the West Bloomfield Township was hard hit by the
economic downturn, the West Bloomfield Township Public
Library sponsored job workshops and computer trainings to get
folks back on their feet.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, and many people were displaced
to Jackson, Mississippi, the Mississippi Museum of Art helped
start a program called "Life Shards."
And for four months, families worked with an art therapist
to create artworks out of actual debris from the storm.
And the Peter White Public Library recently hosted a series
of events to educate the community about mental health
and mental illness.
I think their Director, Pam Christensen,
put it best when she said, "There are so many stories here,
and they're not all on the shelves."
And I can imagine that all of you here today,
all of you honorees, would probably agree with that
sentiment because you know that what you do each day isn't just
about the books on your shelves, or the items in your exhibits.
It's about the people who walk through your doors.
And that also happens to be how my husband and I view our time
here at the White House, because while our family has the pleasure
of living here, we know that we're really just guests.
This is really the people's house.
We say that all the time.
And it's also, in its own way, a museum.
And as I told a group of children that I was visiting
with earlier this week, my husband is the 44th President,
which means that dozens of other presidents and their families
have lived here, and each of them has created their own
memories and made their own history right under this roof.
And we are determined to share that proud heritage with as many
people as possible, particularly our young people,
because we want them to not just experience this legacy,
but to feel a part of this legacy.
That is so important for our kids.
We want them to know that they have a place in our museums,
in our libraries, in our cultural centers,
and most importantly in the walls of this very house,
the White House.
And I know that's what all of you strive for, as well.
And that's your mission.
And that's why I am very proud to be here today to honor you
all for the work that you do.
So I want to thank you.
We are very, very delighted to have you here.
We're excited about the work that you do every day.
And I want to congratulate you all on some truly magnificent achievements.
And I look forward to all that you'll continue to do
in the years ahead.
So now we can get to the business of giving out some
awards, taking some pictures --
-- seeing the press, and then you can get out of here and see
the rest of the house.
So with that, it's my pleasure to turn things over to Mary
Chute from the Institute of Museum and Library Services who
will introduce today's honorees.
So thank you all.
Ms. Chute: Thank you so much, Mrs. Obama.
Well, ready to get to the winners here.
Our first award, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park,
Fishers, Indiana.
President and CEO Ellen Rosenthal and community member
Randy French are accepting the National Medal for Conner
Prairie Interactive History Park in Fishers, Indiana.
Conner Prairie is an outdoor living history museum,
renowned for its innovative approach to learning.
Randy French learned to read as an adult through the literacy
program, Indy Reads, which then partnered with Conner Prairie to
engage students in museum trips.
Now Randy plans the outings and says that literacy includes
being an active community member.
And next we have Explora, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Executive director Dr. Patrick Lopez and community member Sarah
Keeney are accepting the National Medal for Explora
Science Center and Children's Museum in Albuquerque,
New Mexico.
Explora offers the Albuquerque community more than 550 inquiry
based programs and exhibits that encourage critical thinking and
foster life-long science learning.
As the principal of the Los Padillas Elementary School,
Sarah has found fresh approaches for engaging teachers, students,
and their parents by using the museum's programs.
The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California.
Akemi Kikamura Yano, president and CEO,
and community member Paul Takemoto,
are accepting the National Medal for the Japanese American
National Museum in Los Angeles, California.
The museum explores American history through the lens of
Japanese American experiences, emphasizing the importance of
understanding and appreciating all American diversity.
In 2004, Paul accompanied his mother on a museum trip to visit
a World War II camp site where she had been incarcerated.
This began a transformative healing process for his family
and for Paul, a new understanding of his Japanese
American heritage.
The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Mississippi.
Director Betsy Bradley and community member Gwendolyn Magee
are accepting the National Medal for the Mississippi Museum of
Art in Jackson.
The museum embraces its Mississippi roots in all
programming, grounded in a sense of place that contributes to the
understanding of the cultural identity of the state and its people.
Gwen is a textile artist who says she has benefited from the
staff's commitment and dedication to regional artists.
And she has garnered numerous awards at the local, regional,
national, and international levels.
Nashville Public Library, Nashville, Tennessee.
Director Donna Nicely and community member Nancy McClellan
are accepting the National Medal for the Nashville Public Library
in Nashville, Tennessee.
The library is a leader in efforts to continually improve
and enrich the city through outreach and public programming
that is educational and fun.
Nancy embraces the library program's whole child approach
to learning and uses the new methods to impact the lives of
her students and families, many of whom are at risk.
The New York Botanical Garden, New York, New York.
President and CEO, Gregory Long and community member Karen
Washington are accepting the National Medal for the New York
Botanical Garden.
The garden advocates for the plant kingdom and strengthens
the community by presenting programs, events, exhibitions,
and classes that emphasize the importance of environmental
conservation, healthy living, and education.
Karen has been a community activist since 1985,
speaking out for garden protection and preservation,
and working to turn empty lots in the Bronx into community gardens.
Patchogue-Medford Library, Patchogue, New York.
Director Dina McNeece Chrils and community member Zhenie
Velasquez are accepting the National Medal for the
Patchogue-Medford Library in Patchogue, New York.
Throughout years of change and growth,
the library has remained focused on its ultimate goal of basic
literacy since its start in the 1880s in the side room of a shoe store.
Zhenie immigrated to the United States from Ecuador in 1991 and
credits the library's Spanish section for helping her become
proficient in English, work professionally,
and become a citizen.
Her dreams came true starting at the library.
The Peter White Public Library in Marquette, Michigan.
Director Pam Christensen and community member, Jane Ryan,
are accepting the National Medal on behalf of the Peter White
Public Library in Marquette, Michigan.
The library is a learning hub for Marquette's residents and
provides programs to promote acceptance and engage people
from all walks of life.
Jane advocates for people with mental illnesses and worked with
the staff to develop three months of award winning program
on mental health issues.
The Rangeview Library District and Anythink Libraries in Adams
County, Colorado.
Director Pam Sandlian and community member Donna Kelly
will accept the National Medal for Rangeview Library District
and Anythink Libraries in Adams County.
The libraries revamped their library services in 2009,
switching from Dewey Decimal to a system based on words,
which has been well received by the community.
Donna and her family are passionate library patrons who
are particularly grateful that their nine-year-old son overcame
difficulty reading at a library program by reading to a dog.
And our last award -- to West Bloomfield Township Public
Library in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan.
Director Clara Nalli Bohrer and community member Cameron
Thomas-Shah will accept the National Medal for West
Bloomfield Township Public Library in Michigan.
Once a small library in the Detroit suburbs,
the library has grown to meet the needs of a culturally
diverse community.
No matter the changes, the library's most important
partnership is still with parents.
A former latchkey kid himself and now a senior at Morehouse
College in Atlanta, Cameron attributes his educational and
personal success to the second home that he found at the library.
Mrs. Obama: Well, you all survived it.
You looked at the right photographer --
not that you all are the wrong photographers.
So now, it's time to enjoy.
So with that, I will bid you all Happy Holidays on behalf of
myself, my husband, Malia, Sasha, Grandma, and Bo.
Make sure that you are safe, you keep working hard,
because we're going to need you next year to keep doing what
you're doing.
So, now all you have to do is enjoy the house.
We've got a wonderful reception.
Look around.
Touch, feel, enjoy.
You've earned it.
So thank you all so much.
Take care.