WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to help libraries and museums upgrade their technology, better serve their communities, and boost America’s educational infrastructure, the U.S. House of Representatives today approved U.S. Senator Jack Reed’s (D-RI) Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 (S.3530), sending the bill to the President’s desk to be signed into law.  Reed’s bill was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate on December 4.

Reed’s bipartisan bill authorizes up to $299 million annually through 2025 to advance the roles of libraries and museums in education, lifelong learning, historic preservation, and workforce development.  It authorizes federal museum and library programs administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent federal agency that helps support the more than 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums nationwide.

Senator Reed’s bill highlights the role of libraries and museums as community hubs, equipped to meet ever evolving community needs.  Passing this legislation will help museums and libraries improve their technology, enhance collaboration, and better serve the public.

“Local libraries and museums enrich our communities, providing educational opportunities and preserving our history and culture.  This bill represents our national commitment to these institutions.  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,” said Senator Reed.  “Passage of the Museum and Library Services Act will help us write a new chapter in the digital age, as IMLS helps libraries and museums modernize, collaborate, and strengthen their capacity to serve their communities well into the future.  It will help fully leverage the role of libraries and museums in supporting the learning, educational, and workforce development needs of Americans nationwide.  I am so pleased to have worked on a bipartisan basis with several partners in the Senate and House and with the library and museum community to get this bill to the President’s desk.”

Since the last reauthorization in 2010, Rhode Island libraries and museums have received over $10 million in federal grants from these programs.  This year, Rhode Island has received formula and competitive grant funding totaling $1,658,149 from IMLS. 

Reed noted that the updated reauthorization will benefit small states like Rhode Island by boosting its share of funding through an increase in the minimum allotment under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) state grant program.  The $189.3 million provided for LSTA in FY 2019 supports libraries through several grant programs.

The Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 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.
  • Allow federal grants to be used to help libraries prepare for and provide services after a disaster or emergency.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

Reed’s Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 is cosponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Angus King (I-ME), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), 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), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

Companion legislation (H.R. 6988) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Will Hurd (R-TX), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), and David McKinley (R-WV).

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.  According to the American Library Association, every year, 1.5 billion in-person visits are made to public libraries.

Senator Reed wrote the last Museum and Library Service Act reauthorization law, which President Obama signed in 2010.  President Trump is expected to sign the Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 into law.