Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of Daniel J. Boorstin as Librarian of Congress.

November 12, 1975

Thank you very, very much, Congressman Nedzi. Dr. and Mrs. Boorstin, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, distinguished Members of the House and Senate, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Some years ago, a little More and Pop bookstore went bankrupt in Washington and had to close its doors. The people who work with and people who love books always seem to retain their humor even in the face of adversity. I remember the bookstore as being padlocked, emptied of its treasures, but a small sign was pasted in the window. It said "Words failed us." [Laughter]

Today, we honor a man as well as an institution that words have never failed. It is particularly appropriate on the eve of the Nation's Bicentennial for Dr. Boorstin to become the Librarian of Congress.

A noted American historian, educator, and author, Dr. Boorstin won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his outstanding book, "The Democratic Experience" or, as it is known at the White House, "The Democratic and Republican Experience." [Laughter]

It is evident that Dr. Boorstin will bring to this post a love of learning and a scholar's appreciation of the importance of libraries and of the unique contribution of the Library of Congress to American life.

As a former Member of the Congress, I am fully aware of the valuable services that this facility provides to Members of the House and Senate and to the committees of the Congress. May I express my appreciation to many of you who have responded to my requests for help and assistance over the 25 years that I was privileged to serve in the House of Representatives. And we who were the beneficiaries of that help and assistance can never repay you for your contribution to our efforts in the Congress.

But the significance of the Library of Congress goes far beyond its assistance to the Congress itself. This Library is a leading symbol of intellectual life in America. Its diversified collections provide an intellectual reservoir that is without equal.

As the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Boorstin, you will extend in a new direction your lifelong commitment to the understanding and to the appreciation of America's past.

Dr. Boorstin becomes the 12th person, as Congressman Nedzi said, to head this great institution whose 175-year history actually parallels the development of this Nation's intellectual tradition. The Library's contributions to America have been invaluable. The Library's contributions will continue to play a vital role in American life in future years.

I came here today because of my personal admiration for Dr. Boorstin and to salute his predecessor, Quincy Mumford, for his outstanding service over a long period of time. But I also came to emphasize the importance of this Library as a basic intellectual resource of this Nation.

I am very, very pleased that my old friend, my very close friend, the Speaker of the House, Carl Albert, will swear in Dr. Boorstin as Librarian of Congress. Mr. Speaker.

Note: The President spoke at 2:34 p.m. in the Great Hall at the Library of Congress. Dr. Boorstin's response to the President's remarks is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 11, p. 1273).

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at the Swearing In of Daniel J. Boorstin as Librarian of Congress. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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