(Sunrise, Fla.) – U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) issued this statement on the passing of former Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington:
“Dr. James Billington was a passionate, visionary scholar who was equally at home among academic peers and literary works as he was a true man of the people. He understood intuitively that knowledge and access to it is the key to equality and to the strength of future generations of Americans and our nation itself.
Accessibility to America’s legacy for young and old alike made him a true patriot whom Americans owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. In that spirit, parents who bring their children to Washington, D.C. have a place to instill and foster their love of reading through the Young Readers Center in the Jefferson Building. I was honored to help foster the idea when I first came to Congress with my own young children, whose only request when they arrived there was to ‘check out a book at the Library of Congress’.
After taking them and discovering that the children’s collection was in McLean, Virginia, Dr. Billington immediately saw that this deficit needed to be corrected, and the Young Readers Center was born. Dr. Billington oversaw tremendous growth in the Library’s collections and the start of its now-vast online resources, fulfilling his belief that Americans must have access to this prized repository of culture and learning.
My condolences, respect and affection go out to his beloved wife Marjorie and their family, as well as their extended family of Library of Congress devotees who will dearly miss him.”