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Justice Stephen Breyer Swears-in Susan Hildreth as New Director of IMLS

Image Caption: 
Justice Stephen G. Breyer administering the oath of office to Susan H. Hildreth.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011


IMLS Press Contacts
Natasha Marstiller,
Mamie Bittner,

Washington, DC—On February 24, 2011, the Honorable Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, administered a ceremonial oath of office to Susan H. Hildreth, the new Director of the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services before a gathering of library and museum leaders, federal and state officials, national service organizations and congressional staff.

Susan Hildreth noted, "I am so pleased and honored to have this appointment. I want to make sure we use the power of libraries and museums to enrich the lives of our citizens. We must ensure that libraries and museums continue to re-invent themselves to be powerful forces for the civic life in our communities."

Held at the DC Public Library, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Branch, the event included opening remarks by Ginnie Cooper, DC Chief Librarian; and Rachel Goslins, Executive Director of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Rajiv Shah, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development; Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island; Lawrence Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, NTIA, Commerce; and Doug Myers, Chief Executive Officer of the Zoological Society of San Diego and National Museum and Library Services Board member spoke after the oath was administered.

Mr. Shah, who served on the Seattle library board when Ms. Hildreth was recruited to lead the library, spoke about Hildreth's many accomplishments there and noted, "This Administration deserves the nation's best librarian to do this work and we look forward to the brilliance she'll bring to the task here in Washington."

Senator Reed spoke about the recent passage of the reauthorization of the Museum and Library Services. Reed, the bill's sponsor, noted that the reauthorization "recognizes the need for better coordination and updates the law to support the role libraries are playing in education and workforce development. There are 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums in the US and each and every one of them plays a central role in building community participation and a sense of hope and opportunity."

Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling, noted "We at the Department of Commerce are very much partners with IMLS and libraries across the country in our work to close the digital divide in the US. Libraries play a critical role in this effort by connecting Americans to the Internet to access government services, improve education, find jobs, and create new business opportunities. If people are going to succeed in today's economy they need to be online and libraries help people get the training and services they need."

Hildreth is the fourth Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. She began her career as a branch librarian at the Edison Township Library in New Jersey. She has held several key leadership positions including president of the Public Library Association. Prior to her appointment at IMLS, Susan Hildreth was the city librarian in Seattle for two years. Hildreth also served for five years as California's state librarian. Previously, Hildreth was at the San Francisco Public Library, where she served as deputy director and then city librarian.

The ceremony coincided with a meeting of the National Museum and Library Services Board held at the agency's Washington, DC office. The board program featured remarks from Sonal Shah, Director for the White House Domestic Policy Council's Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. Ms. Shah spoke about White House innovation initiatives and the role of libraries and museums in helping communities to solve problems.

IMLS Directors are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for four-year terms. The position alternates between library and museum professionals. Her nomination to her new post was confirmed by the US Senate by unanimous consent on December 22, 2010.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit