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Primary Source Acting Director's Message: Transitions

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Marsha Semmel
Friday, January 21, 2011

Primary Source
Vol. 13, No. 1; January 2011

Acting Director Marsha L. SemmelThe new year is always a good time to look back and look ahead, and, as I write this, I am preparing to leave the acting director’s position to return to serving as IMLS Deputy for Museum Services and Director of Strategic Partnerships. It’s been a privilege to serve at the helm of the Institute of Museum and Library Services over the past ten months. On January 24, I will join other members of the IMLS staff and board in welcoming Susan Hildreth as the agency director.

Susan’s appointment by President Obama and confirmation by the U. S. Senate underscores her strong leadership and librarianship credentials. She is well positioned to take IMLS to new heights.

And she will be supported in her work by the recent reauthorization of the National Museum and Library Services Act, passed by unanimous consent in the Senate and by voice vote in the House, and signed by President Obama on December 23. This reauthorization, which extends through fiscal year 2016, reaffirms the core purposes and goals of the agency and also reflects some important modifications that support the role of IMLS in coordinating policies and activities with other agencies and offices of the federal government. The bill recognizes the central role that libraries and museums play in promoting early learning, literacy, lifelong learning, digital literacy, workforce development, and the education needs of the people of the United States. It also highlights IMLS’s growing policy research, analysis, and data collection and dissemination role; explicitly authorizes the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian program; and encourages and supports museums as part of economic development and community revitalization.

This will no doubt include moving forward on our existing relationships with other federal agencies and foundations and creating new ones. In 2010, we worked closely with the Department of Labor, the Federal Communications Commission, the Library of Congress, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the State Department, and the Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. We also strengthened our work with such foundations as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Noyce Foundation. These relationships support the catalytic role of IMLS and recognize how libraries and museums contribute to pressing issues such as workforce development, digital literacy and inclusion, STEM learning, access to underserved audiences, and 21st century skills.

It’s been an exciting and busy ten months. I’m grateful for the strong support I’ve had from our staff and board and look forward to the coming year with great anticipation.

I remain honored to serve the American people and speak for the ways in which our libraries and museums meet the needs of a broad and diverse public.

—Marsha L. Semmel, Acting Director, IMLS

Click here to read the full January 2011 issue of the Primary Source e-newsletter.

IMLS Press Contacts
Natasha Marstiller,
Mamie Bittner,

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