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President Obama Signs Museum and Library Services Act of 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010


IMLS Press Contacts
Natasha Marstiller,
Mamie Bittner,

Washington, DC—The President signed into law the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 (S. 3984) on December 22, 2010.

The new law reauthorizes the existing programs of the Institute of Museum and Library Services with some important changes. The updated language calls on IMLS to take an active role in research and data collection and to advise the President and Congress on museum, library, and information services. This Act also clearly recognizes how libraries and museums contribute to a competitive workforce and engaged citizenry. New language focuses on the development of essential 21st century skills.

IMLS Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel remarked, "The vitality and innovation of America’s library and museum sectors, and their commitment to the free flow of information and ideas, is one of the most valuable assets of our democracy society. I am pleased to see this law’s emphasis on the essential role of libraries and museums in advancing early learning, workforce development, and education reform."

Speaking on the Senate floor, the Act's principal author, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), said, "The Museum and Library Services Act represents our national commitment to the institutions that are essential to building strong and vibrant communities. Through a relatively modest federal investment, this law helps build capacity to support and expand access to library and museum services at the State and local level." (See full remarks). The other original sponsors of the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 were Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).

The legislation advances the roles of libraries and museums in education, lifelong learning, preservation and workforce development. IMLS has been particularly active in providing leadership to align the activities of libraries and museums around our national priority for an educated workforce, a priority of the Obama Administration and essential for a 21st century global economy. Many of the statutory changes update current language to recognize the vitality and utility of the nation’s libraries and museums.

The expanded authority facilitates IMLS’s evolving role as a partner with other federal agencies. The ubiquity of the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums, the trust invested in them by their communities, and their focus on learning and community engagement make them outstanding partners in furthering our nation’s policy goals in a whole host of areas including health, education, cultural preservation, the environment, and global awareness.

Full text of S.3984, 111th Congress (2009 - 2010) (PDF, 164kB)

The findings of several IMLS-supported studies are reflected in the changes put forth in S. 3984 including:

Museums, Libraries and 21st Century Skills, which underscores the critical role our nation’s museums and libraries play in helping citizens build such 21st century skills as information, communications, and technology literacy; critical thinking; problem solving; creativity; civic literacy; and global awareness.

Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from the Internet in U.S. Public Libraries, a nationwide study, carried out by IMLS and the University of Washington Information School and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which estimated that 77 million Americans used public library computers to access the internet with 40 percent seeking workforce information, 37 percent focused on health issues, and 42 percent furthering their formal education.

Catalyst for Change: The LSTA Grants to States Program and the Transformation of Library Services to the Public, which studied 6,000 project activities over a five-year period and documented the importance of state libraries to planning and evaluation of library services, the use of technology to transform the delivery of library services, and the role of libraries in strengthening human capital in communities across the U.S.

Exhibiting Public Value: Government Funding for Museums in the United States, which examined funding from a variety of sources at the federal, state, and local level and found gaps. It found that overall federal funding for museums was concentrated in specific geographic areas and specific museum types. (IMLS was the only federal agency found to support museums of all types and in every state for all seven years examined in the study.) While the study shed light on the rich complexity of museum funding, it called for more research. Specifically, there is a great need for a consistent, reliable museum census, greater standardization of data in the field and among funders and administrative data managers, more information about the nature of museum support at all levels of government, and a more systematic analysis of the human or social impact of museum services.

A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections, a project of Heritage Preservation and IMLS, which revealed that our collections of objects, documents, and digital material are not only essential to America’s cultural health, but are imperiled and in need of swift protective action. The study estimated that 190 million objects held by archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and scientific organizations in the United States are in need of conservation treatment; 65 percent of collecting institutions have experienced damage to collections due to improper storage; 80 percent of collecting institutions do not have an emergency plan that includes collections, with staff trained to carry it out; and 40 percent of institutions have no funds allocated in their annual budgets for preservation or conservation.

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