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September 6, 2001

Literacy Institute to be Part of Lincoln Presidential Library

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan announced today that he is enlisting the opinions of literacy experts and education leaders to help him form the Abraham Lincoln Institute for Literacy in America, one of the planned policy arms of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, which is now under construction.

Ryan announced plans for the Institute in recognition of International Literacy Day on September 8. The governor said the new literacy institute will carry on the goals of programs that he has championed for more than 10 years - expanding literacy and learning opportunities to adults and children who need help.

"The stories of Lincoln reading by firelight as a boy and his dedication throughout the rest of his life to reading and education will be the inspiration for the work of the Institute," Ryan said. "Lincoln once said that reading was 'an object of vital importance' for everyone. This Institute will extend that part of his legacy into the 21st Century."

The governor added that the expertise of nationally recognized literacy leaders is needed to help his office broaden the focus of the Institute's mission and to help develop the best methods to achieve its goals.

"Too often, the education of children, the development of adult literacy programs and research on reading have not been properly aligned or integrated," Ryan said. "There is a compelling need for greater coordination among researchers, educators and community leaders."

The Institute will be part of a larger "center for learning" that will address various topics and issues relevant to the 21st Century, as well as the study and understanding of President Lincoln's life and America's political and cultural heritage. These policy arms will be housed in the Lincoln Presidential Library adjacent to the museum.

As secretary of state and state librarian, Ryan initiated the first permanent funding for family literacy programs in 1992. He won passage of the Illinois Literacy Act, which allowed the state to tap into federal literacy funds and he quadrupled state funding for workplace literacy programs. Ryan also strengthened literacy initiatives for prison inmates and domestic violence victims.

As governor, Ryan launched the "Illinois Reads" program to better coordinate the myriad of adult literacy efforts administered by government, schools, private groups and faith-based organizations. Some of the governor's most recent initiatives include 18 mobile education centers to spark reading in small children and the distribution of 110,000 reading kits to help Illinois teachers improve reading instruction. He is the only governor in the nation to have a full-time literacy advisor on his senior staff.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is a $115 million complex under construction just a few blocks from the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

The Presidential Museum will offer visitors state-of-the-art exhibits that chronicle and explain Lincoln's life and legacy, the Civil War and 19th Century culture and politics. In addition to the center for learning, the Library will house public viewing galleries for the state's extensive collection of Lincoln artifacts. The Library is expected to be an international center for research on Lincoln, politics, culture, the arts and history. The Library is scheduled to open in the fall of 2002 and the Museum in 2004.


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