- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 24, 2005

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — First lady Laura Bush began her visit to Slovakia yesterday by indulging in a private passion — visiting a library.

Mrs. Bush, a former teacher and public school librarian, got a standing ovation when she arrived to dedicate a new U.S. information center at Bratislava’s university. The InfoUSA Center will promote greater cultural and educational understanding between the United States and Slovakia.

“There’s no greater joy for a librarian than to help open the doors to a new library,” she said. “President Bush was not surprised when I told him that my first stop would be at a library.”

The first lady recalled some of her fondest childhood memories spent with her mother reading at a public library in her hometown of Midland, Texas. She also took a brief tour of the center and chatted with some university students and a librarian.

“I’m confident that the InfoUSA Center will further enhance the warm friendship between people of the United States and Slovakia,” Mrs. Bush said. “Slovakia is a close friend and ally of the United States.”

The University Library was founded in 1919 and is undergoing extensive renovations. It is scheduled to reopen to the public in April.

The U.S. Embassy will provide the new center with a core collection of books, CD-ROMs and DVDs on topics such as U.S. history, politics, economic affairs, philosophy, literature and art. The center updates and expands an American studies room at the university library.

As her husband prepared to meet privately with top Slovak officials ahead of an afternoon summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mrs. Bush planned to visit a gallery and museum later in the day with Mr. Putin’s wife, Lyudmila, and the wives of Slovakia’s president and prime minister.



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