WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to strengthen library and museum services across the nation, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today introduced the bipartisan Museum and Library Services Act of 2018.  This critical bill renews and builds on the existing federal museum and library programs administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and ensures that funding increases for the state formula grant program would be more broadly shared by states around the country.

“Libraries and museums are anchor institutions for their communities, and we need to do all we can to support them in their mission.  The Museum and Library Services Act represents our national commitment to ensuring these institutions are funded, staffed, and accessible to all.  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.  It will help fully leverage the role of libraries and museums in supporting the learning, educational, and workforce development needs of Americans nationwide,” said Senator Reed, who noted that, since the last reauthorization in 2010, Rhode Island libraries and museums have received over $10 million in federal grants from these programs.  This updated bill will help increase the level of annual formula funding Rhode Island receives.

“From offering job search resources and free Internet access to exposing children and families to literary and educational experiences, libraries and museums serve vital roles in our communities,” said Senator Collins.  “The Museum and Library Services Act would bolster our commitment to supporting these institutions that enrich our communities.  I urge my colleagues to join this effort to improve and update programs that help libraries and museums across Maine and the United States.”

The bipartisan Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 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, including research, analysis and modeling, evaluation, and dissemination, 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.

•  Provide technical support and assistance to improve data collection; enhance consultation and public engagement in research, data collection, analysis, and dissemination activities; and ensure that disseminated materials are accessible and easy to digest and use.

•  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.

•  Provide IMLS with additional tools to meet oversight and programmatic responsibilities.

•  Highlight the roles of libraries as community hubs, equipped to serve 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, critical thinking, and financial literacy; and new and emerging technology.

•  Enable increases in the formula program to be shared more broadly by all states, while ensuring no state loses funding.

•  Provide for the awarding of National Leadership grant funds on activities that serve a range of library types and geographically diverse areas; include evaluation, analysis, and dissemination components; and actively involve, have direct impact on, or provide future application in libraries.  Clarifies that grant funds can be used to help libraries prepare for and provide services after a disaster or emergency.

•  Emphasize 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 many ways that they 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.

This year’s reauthorization must be passed by both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives before it can be sent to the President to be signed into law.  The bill is being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Will Hurd (R-TX).