WASHINGTON (AP) -- Museums and libraries are playing an important role in a country that is aiming to provide a top-flight education to its children, Michelle Obama said Thursday as she helped honor 10 institutions from across the U.S. for outstanding community service.
"Welcome to a little museum that we like to call the White House," she said to open an East Room ceremony where she handed representatives of each institution a wooden frame that held their medal and a certificate.
The first lady said the institutions' programs "help us expand our horizon and connect us to with the rest of the world." She highlighted such offerings as summer expeditions to excavate dinosaur bones alongside professional paleontologists and opportunities to learn marine biology through the feeding and training of beluga whales.
"The work that you do in the summers and throughout the year, quite frankly, is filling a crucial role for our country as we strive to give our young people a world-class education," Mrs. Obama said.
Her hometown library, the Chicago Public Library, received an award. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff, was seated in the front row of the audience.
The remaining recipients of the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service are:
-- Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York.
-- The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Indiana.
-- Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Nevada.
-- Mid-Continent Public Library, Independence, Missouri.
-- Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, Connecticut.
-- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, North Carolina.
-- Octavia Fellin Public Library, Gallup, New Mexico.
-- Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, Norman, Oklahoma.
-- Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, Massachusetts.
The annual awards are presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Service, the main source of federal support for the country's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.
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