LITTLE ROCK — Hillary Clinton said Monday that as someone who loved going to the library as a child, she was especially honored to have a children’s library here named in her honor.
The former Arkansas first lady and U.S. secretary of state spoke at a dedication ceremony at the new Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center. Bill Clinton surprised organizers by turning up and watching from the audience as his wife spoke.
"I love libraries, so having this library named for me is personally very moving to me," Hillary Clinton said to an audience of adults and children. "I grew up going to the library in the small town outside of Chicago where I was raised."
She also recalled that when their daughter Chelsea was very young, the Clintons would take her often to the downtown Little Rock library.
"We would go there and we’d go to children’s reading hours, we’d wander through the stacks. Bill and I read to her all the time," Clinton said.
"We now know that reading to your children is one of the best ways to build their brains," she said. "Seven hundred neurons a minute are connected up in those early years, and the more you can read and talk with your children and give them opportunities for experiences like they will have here at this library and the learning center, the better prepared they will be for school and for life."
Hillary Clinton took part in story time with children at the library before giving her talk.
CALS Director Bobby Roberts spoke of Hillary Clintons’ past work to benefit Arkansas children, including her service on the board of Arkansas Children’s Hospital; her co-founding of the nonprofit group Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families; the Clintons’ push for increased school funding and tougher academic standards during a special legislative session in 1983 when Bill Clinton was governor; and the Clintons’ support for a 1992 constitutional amendment that changed the way Arkansas libraries are funded.
"If that’s not enough reason to name this building after her, I don’t know what is," he said.
The library features a computer lab, a 3D printer, a teaching kitchen and about 21,000 books, DVDs and CDs. On the library grounds are a greenhouse, a teaching garden, an amphitheater and nature trials.
The library opened March 16 under the name Children’s Library and Learning Center. The board of the Central Arkansas Library System voted June 27 to name the library after Clinton.