[Article reprinted on SLIS News with permission from CNSNews.com.]
(CNSNews.com) - First Lady Laura Bush, a former school librarian, announced a proposed $10 million initiative for 2003 that she hopes will recruit a new generation of professional librarians.
The initiative is to be included in President Bush's proposed budget for FY 2003 that will be submitted to Congress next month. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency that oversees the nation's 122,000 libraries, will manage the initiative.
"To help recruit a new generation of librarians, this initiative will provide scholarships to graduate students in library and information science, support distance-learning technology for training programs in underserved areas, and recruit librarians with diverse language skills," said Mrs. Bush in a recent speech at the Topeka, Kan. public library.
The first lady explained why more librarians are needed in America.
"In May, 2000, Library Journal magazine reported 40 percent of America's library directors plan to retire in nine years or less. And, according to the July 2000 Monthly Labor Review, in 1998, 57 percent of professional librarians were age 45 or older," Mrs. Bush said.
She said her husband supports the initiative. "I applaud the administration's commitment to America's public libraries and I'm proud of the president's support of librarians. He likes to joke about that. He says he's so fond of librarians that he married one," the first lady said.
Meanwhile, the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services hopes the new education bill that the president signed into law last week will help efforts in recruiting and hiring more professional librarians.
"The signing of the 'No Child Left Behind Act' is a great achievement," said Dr. Robert Martin, the institute's director, in a statement.
"Recruiting and educating the next generation of librarians is essential. They help parents teach their children before they enter school, they are partners with the school in their communities and they help adults continue to achieve and enjoy learning throughout their lifetimes," he added.
"This recruitment initiative is a further indication of the depth of the President and Mrs. Bush's commitment to education," Martin said.
Meanwhile, the American Libraries magazine in an article to be published in its March issue said that 1990 Census data showed almost 58 percent of professional librarians will reach the age of 65 between 2005 and 2019. Another reason why the institute thinks the recruiting initiative should become law.
Mrs. Bush told reporters after her speech that the recently signed education bill would reinforce her "Ready to Read, Ready to Learn" learning initiative. "One thing that is in the education bill is money for our states to use to make sure that little children-preschool children and kindergarten children-get a really good start for learning to read," she said.
Posted January 16, 2002