2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Ceremony

Uploaded by USIMLS on 15.12.2011

Susan Hildreth: The National Medal for Museum and Library Service is the highest national
honor conferred on museums and libraries for services to their communities. The institutions
we honor tonight have been chosen for their innovative approaches to public service and
for their success in improving communities and making a difference in peopleís lives.
I would like to read an excerpt from a letter from First Lady Michelle Obama to our honorees.
Museums and libraries inspire us to stretch our imaginations and play an important role
in exposing Americans of all ages and backgrounds to fresh ideas. They teach our children new
skills and ways of thinking, and even help to promote lifelong wellness. From big cities
to small towns, this yearís medal winners are making tremendous contributions to our
communities through innovative programming and a commitment to excellence. You are helping
to lift up all those who visit your institutions and I hope you take pride in all you have
accomplished. I second Mrs. Obamaís sentiments and add my congratulations to the winners
of the 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Thank you for everything
you do. It is now my honor to introduce our special guest, who will in a few minutes join
me in presenting the medals. Cokie Roberts is an award winning journalist and author,
a senior news analyst for NPR News, where she was the Congressional Correspondent for
more than 10 years and political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all networking
news programming. She has won many awards including three Emmys. She has been inducted
into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and was cited by American Women in Radio and
Television as one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting. She is a sought
after speaker and we are so honored that she is taking part in this event this evening.
Please welcome Cokie Roberts. Cokie Roberts: What a treat it is to be with
all of these people doing such wonderful work and honoring them, particularly here at the
Capitol. I mean, I love this place. I grew up here. This is a beautiful room, look at
it. When youíre in hearings here, you can just start looking at the ceiling and not
having to pay attention to what theyíre talking about, but which is good. But the contentiousness
here is so awful these days, that to be able to come into this institution, which really
is the place where we should be coming together, thatís what congress means, and you librarians
can point that out to some children and particularly to some grown ups. And but, instead of having
the contention here we are all together to honor people who have done wonderful, wonderful
work. And I am really happy to have been asked to join with the Institute for Museum and
Library Services and my Public Radio colleague, David Isay, who has been bringing the history
of this country through the spoken word throughout the country. The Library of Congress, of course,
has all of his StoryCorps recordings, but itís all over the country and the StoryCorps
mobile, what do you call that thing? Is that whatís itís called? Thatís good. Do you
like that? Like the old bookmobiles and of course, you hear them on National Public Radio.
I got my first library card when I was five years old and I remember it very well because
we-- my mother marched me into the local library. It was on Lee Circle in New Orleans. And they
told her that I couldnít have a card until I was six. And she said, ìBut sheís reading.î
And they said, ìNo, she canít have a card.î And my mother was the wrong person to say
this too. And she then-- but she is-- she is Iím happy to say, she is with us at 95.
She very graciously, as she always is, worked out a compromise, something that when she
was in Congress, they still knew how to do. And she said, ìWell, suppose we arrange it
so that if she can write her name on the card, she can have a card?î And the librarian just
basically was out of resources to say no, and so I wrote my name and got my card. And
have been an avid user of libraries ever since. I now have two library cards; my local Montgomery
County Public Library here and my Library of Congress Researcherís card, which I have
to work really hard for. And of course, the role of museums in our lives is always so
incredibly important and you never know when itís going to make an enormous difference.
Recently, just last Martin Luther King holiday in January I had one of my grandsons for the
day and he said, ìI want to go to see something about Martin Luther King.î, and it was before
the monument had opened and happily because I wouldnít have wanted to go there in January,
and the American History Museum, the Museum of American History or whatever itís called
now, was having a whole Martin Luther King presentation and he was mesmerized. And now,
and he was six, five and now can tell you a great deal about Martin Luther King and
the civil rights movement and all that because he had that experience in a museum. I had
an experience in a museum that really in some ways changed my life. We lived in Greece for
about four years. My husband was the New York Time Bureau Chief there and I was stringing
for various news organizations, mainly CBS and we used to go to Marathon all the time,
with the-- our kids were little. And weíd go to the beach at Marathon, but of course,
Marathon, itís Marathon and thereís a big mound there thatís supposed to be where the
Persians were buried. But the-- if you go back into the hills, there just sort of nestled
into the bottom of one of the hills is this tiny museum, just tiny. And itís from thousands
of years before the battle of Marathon, and it has all of these very simple objects in
it. It has some cooking utensils and itís got some jewelry and itís got some weapons
and itís got some objects for worship and I looked in, and itís tiny, and I looked
at those things and I thought, for women we could open those cases and put on those jewels
and take up those tools and start right where those women from 5,000 years ago left off
without missing a beat. For men, theyíd have to be priests or warriors, which is why I
think they didnít let women in for a long time, but for women that sense of continuity
was so evident and so strong that itís really affected my work tremendously. I mean, I wrote
a book called, We Are Our Mothersí Daughters as a result of that experience, and I have--
it has very much informed my life since then. So I am a great believer in both libraries
and museums and in the power that they have in our lives. I must say our children in those
years in Greece did feel terribly oppressed having to read every sign in every museum.
My husband just will not it rest, but it was a great learning experience, as it continues
to be, of course, here at home. And the wonderful stories that you saw glimpses of in this nice
video and that youíll hear a little bit more about as we give the awards, really do give
you a sense of the scope of these institutions and how they interact in their communities,
both with individuals in the communities and with the groups in the communities and with
the community as a whole. And so, anything from the Weippe Public Library helping a family
when it relocated from Arizona to Idaho, to the Brooklyn Museum. I mean, these are the
difference of sizes where the-- where tremendous inspiration to a young artist, to the Madison
Childrenís Museum providing performance opportunities to a brain damaged young man who was able
to find work there and do performances that really made his life meaningful. So it is
great that we are celebrating these libraries and museums. As you know better than I, but
it always bears restating, itís a tough, tough time. Youíve got more demands on you
than ever before in history and fewer resources and that is really difficult. Every public
library these days or any one worth its salt is serving as a whole community institution
where people come and they come in to use the computers and do their resumes there and
they are buying fewer books, so theyíre sitting and reading books in the library or taking
books out of the library. Community organizations are meeting in libraries because thatís where
they can afford to meet, and so hours have to be longer and staff is stretched and of
course the cutbacks from government agencies are great. And that really does create enormous
problems, and it also comes at a time when everybody is being required, and I think the
word is required, to modernize constantly. That fascinating little clip we saw from the
Minnesota Seminary, no itís a priory. What is it? A monastery, thank you. I actually
speak Catholic, but my mother was the Ambassador to the Vatican, right, which is a whole other
story. But the absolute demand to go digital is really just-- itís fundamental because
anyone whoís doing research now has got to be able to get to that information on his
or her computer where ever they are, and so to make that possible is also now-- itís
not an option. So all of that is a tremendous responsibility, and the same things is true
of museums where more and more relevance is required more and more community outreach,
more and more, again, the good news, thereís a good news part of this. Good news is that
more and more people are using the museums as they have fewer dollars to spend on other
forms of entertainment, but it puts a tremendous stress on staff and on the institutions. I
think the other really good news, and certainly the people here in this room who are getting
these wonderful awards are the most exemplative of it. The other good news is that the museums
and libraries are stepping up to it. I am so impressed with the work thatís being done,
with the imagination that is coming to the fore as people find ways to deal with the
difficulties that theyíre facing and understand that one of the ways is to be more and more
engaged in the community and have the community be more and more and more engaged in the institutions.
Thatís the way it always should have been anyway. And I know itís really hard work,
and I know Iím just saying it and itís easy for me to say and itís really hard for you
to do, but it is really important that you do it, and itís wonderful that you are doing
it and I am very honored to be able to salute you tonight. So thank you.
Susan Hildreth: Thank you, Cokie for those inspiring remarks. I would now like to introduce
Mary Chute, the IMLS Deputy Director for Library Services and Claudia French, the Deputy Director
for Museum Services, who will read the names of the medalists and those accepting the medals
and tell you a little bit about each of our winners.
Mary Chute: Hi everyone. Itís great to have you here. Because the national medal is about
service to the community, each medal winner has brought with them someone on whom their
institution has had a significant positive impact. Claudia and I will read the names
of the honorees and briefly summarize the stories of these members of the communities.
When we call your names, please come forward and receive your medal from Susan and Cokie.
Alachua County Library District in Gainesville, Florida, Director Shaney T. Livingston, Ward
Chair Sherwin Henry and community member Lenore Krome. Lenore started using the Archer Library
branch of the Alachua County Library District by bringing her small children to attend programs
and check out numerous books. By exposing her family to the joy of reading and the wonders
of the world outside of their little town and by using the library and her teaching,
Lenore has taken full advantage of this small, rural library. All right. Thank you. Thatís
great. The Columbus Metropolitan Library in Columbus,
Ohio; CFO Dewitt Harold, Board Chair, Roger Sugarman and community member Khamall Howard.
Khamall joined the library summer youth program as a high school sophomore and eventually
took on a leadership role in the program. During his senior year, he was hired as a
library services aid. Library of Congress, here we go right there.
The Hill Museum and Manuscript Library in Collegeville, Minnesota; Director Father Columba
Stewart, Board Chair Thomas Joyce and community member Getatchew Haile. In 1975 while recovering
from a brutal beating he received as he was evicted from his native Ethiopia, Dr. Haile
was hired by the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library. His work there has been instrumental
in preserving the history of Ethiopia. The San Jose Public Library in San Jose, California.
We have to let Susan do her little California cheer. Director Jane Light, Board Chair Jean
Lee, community member Vikram Kanth. Vikram now a freshman at the US Naval Academy learned
to love his library at an early age when his immigrant parents brought him there for its
childrenís services. Vikram has since paid the library back by organizing a not-for-profit
to raise funds for
the library. The Weippe Public Library and Discovery Center
in Weippe, Idaho; Director Terri Summerfield, Acting Board Chair Marjorie Kuchynka, I think
I have that right, Kuchynka, community member Grady Thompson. Grady discovered all the library
had to offer after moving to Weippe from Tucson in 2008, especially enamored of the libraryís
safe and inviting atmosphere, Grady and her family have used the library for everything
from childrenís programs to paying bills online.
Claudia French: All right museums, whereís Brooklyn? Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York;
Director Arnold Lehman, Board Chair Jack Tamagni and community member Virginia Vergara. An
art enthusiast from an early age, Virginia gained knowledge and confidence in the Brooklyn
Museumís apprentice program. She is now a visual artist and art professional.
EdVenture Childrenís Museum, Columbia, South Carolina; Director Catherine Horne, community
member Noah Aitchison Adams and his mom Mary. Mary and Noah joined EdVenture Community Health
Initiative, the Big Ed Health Team, four years ago. Noah has made many trips through Eddie,
a 40 foot, 17 ton museum centerpiece designed to teach people about the human body. Bravo.
All right, Erie, Pennsylvania. Erie Art Museum; Director John Vanco, community member Victoria
Angelo. Victoria became involved with the Eerie Art Museum in 2004 as part of the Old
Songs, New Opportunities Project where she learned how to work in an American daycare
setting and had to use her traditional African song and dance on the job. She is now one
of the 30 artists featured in the museumís exhibit, Making It Better, Folk Arts in Pennsylvania
Today. I know thereís a lot of people from here.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, Virginia; Director Frank Robinson, Board Chair Bill
King and community member Christ Corsello. Chris, working with his aid, Lisa Watts, has
volunteered at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens for nearly two years. He enjoys making
a meaningful contribution to the garden and appreciates the community he has found there.
And last, but not least, Madison Childrenís Museum, Madison, Wisconsin; Director Ruth
Shelly and community member Benjamin Perreth. Ben, who suffered a brain hemorrhage at the
age of seven, and has survived numerous surgeries and other medical challenges, began volunteering
as a juggler at MCM. He now what he calls his dream job working with the museum as a
visitor services associate. Susan Hildreth: I am so impressed with all
these wonderful medalists, and particularly we have so many young people representing
as our community members. Weíre very, very proud of them and we know weíre making a
difference in their lives.