Bipartisan bill will help direct federal funds to museums and libraries to invest in technology, improve access to materials, and strengthen communities
Washington, D.C. - In a major victory for libraries, museums, and lifelong learning opportunities, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Museum and Library Services Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Their bill passed the Senate unanimously and now awaits the President’s signature.
The bill is cosponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Angus King (I-ME), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
The Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 renews and builds on the $240 million commitment to the federal museum and library programs administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent federal agency that helps museums and libraries across the country advance their educational missions, deliver services, preserve history, and make their collections more accessible.
The fact that Congress passed the bill by overwhelming margins sent a strong, bipartisan message on the importance of robustly supporting the federal agency that helps museums and libraries better serve their communities. IMLS supports programs at more than 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums nationwide.
“Public libraries and museums are central community institutions in Maine and throughout the country. Increasingly, libraries have emerged as hubs not just for literacy and Internet access, but for workforce support and community activities. The bipartisan Museum and Library Services Act represents a commitment to supporting libraries and museums that do more than accumulate artifacts – they tell stories that enrich our communities and inspire the minds of future generations,” said Senator Collins. “Our bill will bolster that commitment, and I look forward to it being signed into law.”
This bipartisan bill highlights the role of libraries and museums as community hubs equipped to meet ever evolving community needs. Updating the law to help museums and libraries improve their technology, enhance collaboration, and better serve the public and communities, the reauthorization bill will:
- Strengthen the use of data driven tools to measure the impact and maximize the effectiveness of library and museum services, build capacity, and better tailor local services to address and meet community needs.
- Enhance IMLS’s collaborative efforts with an expanded number of federal agencies to fully leverage the role of libraries and museums in supporting and meeting the needs of Americans.
- Increase the reservation for Services for Native Americans to more closely match appropriations.
- Recognize the roles of libraries as community hubs, serving evolving and diverse community needs (including those of rural residents, individuals with disabilities, Native Americans, veterans, military families, and caregivers, among others) in such areas as literacy; education; lifelong learning; health information; workforce development; economic and business development; digital literacy and financial literacy; and new and emerging technology.
- Enable increases in library formula funding to be shared more broadly across states, while ensuring no state loses funding.
- Emphasizes recruiting and training of our nation’s next generation of library and information science professionals – necessary for an information economy – from a broad range of backgrounds.
- Authorize activities to improve the recruitment, preparation, and professional development of museum professionals to preserve our heritage for future generations.
- Highlight the educational role of museums and the ways that museums engage and strengthen their communities.
- Encourage partnerships with other agencies, professional networks, and community-based organizations to leverage museum services in service to the nation.
The American Alliance of Museums reports that there are nearly 850 million visits per year to American museums, and that U.S. museums inject approximately $21 billion into the economy each year.