President's Use of WH Library Signifies Shift in Tone

Battling the lowest approval ratings of his presidency and a deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the president is expected to announce in a speech tonight from the White House library that U.S. forces in Iraq will be increased by up to 22,000 troops.

The speech will be the 28th prime-time address of Bush's presidency and the third prime-time speech that focuses on Iraq since his re-election in November 2004.

White House aides acknowledge that the location for the president's address tonight reflects a tone different from that of his announcement of the initial assault on Iraq, which he delivered in March 2003 from the more austere Oval Office.

"We were looking for a serious but different venue that allowed for more of a conversation with the American people," explained White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore.

A small room -- not quite 27 x 23 feet -- the White House library is packed to the crown moldings with historical artifacts. Visually, the library makes for a cozier setting than the more imposing backdrop of the Oval Office.

While many assume President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the White House library for his 30 fireside chats, which ran from the Depression through World War II, Roosevelt actually used the larger diplomatic reception room of the White House.

At the height of the energy crisis, President Jimmy Carter, emulating the tone of Roosevelt's addresses, delivered his fireside chats from the White House library, forgoing a suit jacket for a sweater to make his point on energy conservation.

The room served as a laundry area till President Theodore Roosevelt's renovation of the ground floor in 1902, after which it became a waiting area.

In 1932, it was remodeled as a library, and in 1961 a committee was appointed to select a collection of works representative of American thought and tradition to occupy its shelves.

Using private funds, the White House Library was recently redone by First Lady Laura Bush. Tonight's presidential address will mark the public debut of its new decor.

Eager to get the word out on the new look of the old space, Mrs. Bush's press secretary Susan Whitson told ABC News, "Mrs. Bush recently refurbished the Library - changing the gray walls with mauve bookcases to off-white walls and deep red bookcase backsplashes."

Whitson emphasized, "This will be the first tv debut of the new refurbishment. Again - all done with private funding."

ABC News' Ann Compton and Karen Travers contributed to this report.