12/05/2018 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – In a major victory for libraries, museums, and lifelong learning opportunities, the full U.S. Senate passed the Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 (S.3530) on a unanimous vote.  

The bipartisan bill, authored by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) with lead cosponsors Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) 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 U.S. Senate sent a strong bipartisan message that 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.

“This is a big, bipartisan win for all who use libraries and museums, and for our communities.  Local libraries and museums are cornerstones for their communities.  They educate, provide connectivity, and preserve our history and culture.  Without this bill, local libraries would have to cutback services.  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, and I salute Senators Collins and Murkowski for their leadership and critical support,” 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 year, Rhode Island has received $1,082,194 from IMLS under the Library and Services and Technology Act Grants to States Program.  “This bill will help to make certain that small states like Rhode Island are able to receive a fair share of library funding and will help these institutions to adapt to ever-changing community needs.”

Senator Reed’s 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:

“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 access to important information.  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 would bolster that commitment, and I will continue to work with Senator Reed to ensure that libraries and museums across the country receive this vital support.” 

“Alaska’s libraries and museums do fantastic work, preserving the rich culture and history of communities across the state. I appreciate Senator Reed for his leadership on The Museum and Library Services Act and for his collaboration on incorporating feedback from Alaska’s library and museum community,” said Senator Murkowski. “It’s encouraging to know that many of our tribal libraries and museums will be further strengthened through a number of provisions included in this legislation.”

  • 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.

In addition to Collins, Murkowski and Gillibrand, Reed’s Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 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), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

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.

Senator Reed wrote the last Museum and Library Service Act reauthorization law, which President Obama signed in 2010.  This year’s reauthorization must now be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives before it can be sent to the President to be signed into law.