Selected Events in 2004
Berlin's America Memorial Library Turns 50September 17, 2004
Mrs. Marsha Coats
Frau Dr. Lux,
Mayor and Senator Schubert,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very happy to represent the Embassy here today at the 50th anniversary of the Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek. My husband regrets very much that he could not attend and asked me to convey his best wishes on this special occasion.
Fifty years ago, on September 17, 1954, the American Memorial Library opened. It was modeled after an American public library. Americans were pleased and proud that the City of Berlin chose to build a library with the funds that the American government had donated to the people of Berlin to commemorate what they had gone through during the blockade. Because for Americans, libraries are places of opportunity and freedom. Libraries and librarians play an essential role in our democracy. Libraries are sources of education and self-help. They provide free access to information for all. Libraries tell our common stories and connect generations and peoples in a unique way.
The American model of a public library has now become a German model – thanks in large part to the example set by the Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek. The Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek has strengthened and enriched Berlin and the German library community by finding innovative ways to expand public access to information.
But libraries do more than provide us with information. Libraries broaden our minds and imaginations, and ignite or re-ignite the spark of learning in people of all ages.
When you have a question about anything in the world, the library is the place to go. And someone will always be there to help you find the answer – dedicated librarians. And so, the real congratulations today go to the librarians and staff of the Amerikagedenkbibliothek. We commend you for your dedication and commitment – and your willingness to take on challenges.
Earlier in its history, the Gedenkbibliothek was a symbol of freedom in a politically divided Germany. Today as the main partner of the Library of Congress in promoting virtual reference services in Germany, the library now bridges digital divides.
Over the years, the Amerika Haus and the Embassy have worked closely with the Gedenkbibliothek on a number of such projects. We are proud of the relationship and believe that we can -- and must -- build on this partnership for the future.
To symbolize our commitment, I have come with some birthday presents. Frau Dr. Lux, can I ask you to join me on the stage?
First, we have an historic reel of microfilm of the New York Times. It covers the last half of September 1954 and includes an article on the opening of the Gedenkbibliothek 50 years ago. The Amerika Haus would like to present the Gedenkbibliothek with 50 years of the New York Times on microfilm – one for each year. We also would like to present the Jugendbibliothek with a collection of children’s books. I have brought along one book from that collection – the rest will follow. And finally, because we know libraries always need money, a check for 5,000 Euro.
And so, on behalf of the Embassy, again our congratulations and our best wishes for the future. The vision, promise and trust that this strong and vital library have given to Berlin over the past 50 years have proved that Oberbürgermeister Ernst Reuter’s decision to build a library was the right one.