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Primary Source Director's Message -- April 2011

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Primary Source
Vol 13, No. 3; April 2011

Each year in April we have the opportunity to recognize the excellent work of our nation's libraries. National Library Week and School Library Month help us to reflect on the essential role of libraries and library professionals.

We are fortunate to have a precious national resource in our 123,000 libraries, and this week we celebrate National Library Week knowing that more people than ever before are using US libraries and also that many communities are straining to meet demand with limited funding and staff.

This week we honor all libraries: public, academic, school and research, and reflect upon how they help to make our communities strong and our nation competitive. This work is as important to local communities, to business and to scientific research, as it is to the nation.

We want our libraries to be smart and strategic about the future. Just last month, we gathered representatives from every state and the territories for a meeting in Baltimore to work on future state-wide library planning and evaluation. The recently passed reauthorization of the Museum and Library Services Act provides an important platform for our efforts. The new law focuses on the central role of libraries in helping people find work, get an education, start new businesses, use technology, find health information, and access government services.

There are so many intersections between good libraries and what we want for our children and our country. Just last month I participated in meetings that ran the gamut from the critical role libraries can play in bringing reliable high speed access to communities in need, to the essential role libraries can play in helping young children learn to read. New research shows that a child who is unable to read on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who can read proficiently by that time. Add poverty to the mix, and a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer. Our important work in early learning can make a great improvement in these challenging trends.

We want to insure that everyone who lives in the United States has access to high quality library services.

—Susan H. Hildreth, Director, IMLS

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