Canton Repository

August 22, 2003

Library to invite first lady

Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — The National First Ladies’ Library in Canton is working with the White House to draw first lady Laura Bush to a dedication this fall.

Asked what the chances are of Bush participating in the event, Pat Krider, executive director of the library, said, “We hope they’re pretty good.”

So far, two first ladies — Rosalyn Carter and Hillary Clinton — have visited the library, a unit of the National Park system.

The library plans to dedicate its new addition, the former City National Bank Building, in a ceremony that could be held as early as September. Portions of the event could be open to the public, Krider said.

The bank building has undergone a $7.5 million renovation to transform it into the education and research wing of the library. It is a block from the library’s headquarters in the Ida Saxton McKinley house. Archives and records previously stored in the house have been moved to the bank building.

Library officials have talked with the White House about several possible dates for the dedication. They are awaiting word as to when the first lady would be available.

“Nothing’s been confirmed at all,” Krider said.

A spokesman for the first lady also declined to confirm a visit, noting that the practice is to release information about the first lady’s travel no more than a few days before an event.

The historic Saxton McKinley house will continue to serve as the first ladies’ museum. Public tours of the house are available by appointment.

The library plans to invite former first ladies Clinton, Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson to the dedication, as well as members of the library’s board of directors and advisory board, contributors and others.

The majority of funding for the library expansion came from private donors, Krider said. The federal government provided a $2.5 million matching grant.

The library was founded in 1998 with the mission of serving as a research and educational center to promote interest in the first ladies’ contributions to American history. Congress designated it a national historic site three years ago, making it eligible for additional federal aid.

Carter was a former first lady when she went to the library for its dedication June 8, 1998. Clinton, now a U.S. senator, was first lady when she visited in July 1999.