Citing "personal health issues," Dr. James Billington announced his resignation yesterday as the Librarian of Congress. Billington, 73, had headed the library since 1987, leading initiatives on digitizing materials and offering electronic access to Library of Congress holdings. Before his appointment, Billington, a Rhodes Scholar with a background in Russian history, was director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
Under a special executive order, Laura Bush has been appointed as the new Librarian of Congress. Laura Bush, the wife of President George W. Bush, has a Master of Library Science degree from University of Texas at Austin (1973). She has worked three years as a librarian at Dawson Elementary School in Austin, Texas. As First Lady she started a national literacy initiative called Ready to Read, Ready to Learn, and founded the National Book Festival.
Senior White House aide Sam Seaborn outlined several initiatives that Mrs. Bush has as the new Librarian of Congress, including: renaming the "American Memory Project" to the "Ronald W. Reagan American Memory Project"; implementing a closed stacks system within the library; and removing all French-language titles from the collection. Mrs. Bush also plans to appoint Sanford Berman as lead cataloger and name the Dixie Chicks as Poet Laureates.