Congress Passes IMLS Authorization Bill

On December 22, President Obama signed into law S. 3984, the “Museum and Library Services Act of 2010.” The bill would authorize funding for fiscal years (FY) 2011—2016 for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.

According to the American Library Association, Americans visit libraries more than 1.3 billion times and check out more than 2.1 billion items each year. And the American Association of Museums reports that there are nearly 850 million visits per year to American museums, and that U.S. museums employ as many as half a million Americans and contribute approximately $20.7 billion to the economy each year.

The bill authorizes nearly $300 million in federal assistance to museums and libraries nationwide in FY 2011. Besides authorizing funding, the bill will also enhance training and professional development for librarians and ensure the development of a diverse library workforce, including by authorizing the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian program, which has been previously funded through annual appropriations.

It will help build state capacity to support museums by authorizing IMLS to support state assessments of museum services and the development and implementation of state plans to improve and enhance those services. The bill will also strengthen conservation and preservation efforts.

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Additionally, it seeks to fully leverage the role of libraries and museums in supporting the learning, educational, and workforce development needs of Americans by requiring IMLS to improve coordination and collaboration with other federal agencies that also have an interest in and responsibilities for the improvement of museum and libraries and information services.