Honoring Outstanding Museums and Libraries

December 17, 2010 | 16:44 | Public Domain

First Lady Michelle Obama presents the National Medal for Museum and Library Services to 10 outstanding institutions.

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The First Lady at the National Medal for Museum and Library Services Ceremony

The First Lady gave remarks at the National Medal for Museum and Library Services Ceremony today, expressing her gratitude for the medal recipients' contributions to their communities:

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. 

Each recipient of the award has demonstrated their innovative approaches to public service and improving communities. The First Lady gave examples of the ideas that made each recipient stand out as a community leader:

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.  (Laughter.)  And I understand they’ve even made T-shirts that read “Shhh is a four letter word.”  (Laughter.)

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.


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