For Immediate Release

September 25, 2003    


Contact:  Eileen Maxwell, [log in to unmask] or Mamie Bittner, [log in to unmask] in IMLS' Public Affairs Office:  202-606-8339     


President Signs Legislation to Improve Library and Museum Service


Washington, DC-- At a ceremony today in the White House President George W. Bush signed into law H.R. 13 the Museum and Library Services Act of 2003.  The legislation reauthorizes federal support provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  Thousands of U.S. libraries and museums receive IMLS funds each year; the agency is the primary source of federal support for these institutions.  All types of museums, art, history, natural history, science and technology centers, children’s museums, botanical gardens, and zoos; and all types of libraries, public, academic, school, research, and archives are eligible for funding from the IMLS.


Dr. Robert Martin, Director of the Institute said, “Libraries and museums are essential elements of public education in the United States.  They support learning before school starts, during the school years and throughout the lifetime.  Our democracy is strengthened by an educated citizenry and this legislation will help libraries and museums to create public value and sustain our nation of learners.”
This legislation advances the role of libraries and museums to connect people to knowledge and ideas in a new era.  Today innovative technologies, increasing diversity, and shifts in industry and labor markets combine to make adapting to change a way of life.  Navigating change, and achieving prosperity and individual productivity, require the ability to learn continually, to adapt readily, and to evaluate information critically.  This legislation will help museums and libraries work together and with their communities to meet these challenges.


Support from IMLS helps libraries and museums address issues of national concern such as improving literacy, furthering school reform, preserving artistic and cultural heritage, teaching science and technology, sustaining the natural environment, enhancing global understanding, and stimulating creativity.  It helps libraries and museums add digital libraries, virtual exhibits, and exciting online resources to their time-honored roles as places for story times, museum exhibits, school programs, reading and centers of civic engagement.  IMLS encourages libraries and museums to pursue institutional planning and program evaluation to increase sustainability and build capacity.


The legislation received bi-partisan support from Congress and enthusiastic backing from the library and museum communities.  It continues authority provided by the original Museum and Library Services Act which was passed in 1996 and placed combined authority for library and museum programs in one federal agency for the first time.  The reauthorization makes organizational, programmatic, and structural changes that help complete the transition.


H.R. 13 was introduced in the House on January 7, 2003 by Congressman Pete Hoekstra.  It was approved by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on February 13, 2003.  The House approved the measure on March 6 by a vote of 416-2.  Reauthorization bills were also introduced in the Senate.  Senator Jack Reed introduced S. 238 on January 28 and Senator Judd Gregg introduced S. 888 on April 11.  The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce reached a consensus measure that was unanimously approved by the Senate on August 1.  The House passed the measure on September 16.  Statements from members of Congress on passage of the Act follow this release.

The new law:


* Updates the purpose of the Museum Services Act to include:  to encourage museums to achieve the highest standards of management and service to the public; to promote their educational role in conjunction with schools, families, and communities; and to carry out their stewardship responsibilities to achieve the highest standards in conservation and care of the cultural historic, natural, and scientific heritage of the United States to benefit future generations;


* Updates the purposes of the Library Services and Technology Act to promote improvements in library services in all types of libraries; to facilitate access to, and sharing of, resources; and to achieve economical and efficient delivery of service for the purpose of cultivating an educated and informed citizenry.


* Authorizes a doubling of the minimum state allotment under the Grants to States Library Agencies program.  This is the Institute’s largest program credited with helping to coordinate statewide library services and supporting a wide array of programs from family literacy to providing broad access to sophisticated databases.  This program also develops the role of libraries as “information brokers” helping to make resources and services, which are often prohibitively expensive, more readily available.


* Supports efforts to recruit and educate the next generation of librarians addressing an impending critical shortage of professional librarians in the United States.


* Provides authority to award the nation’s highest honor for community service in libraries. (Similar authority for an award for museum community service exists in current law.)


* Streamlines the advisory board structure creating a National Museum and Library Services Board comprised of agency leadership and 20 presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate.


* Requires an annual analysis to identify trends and needs for museum and library services.


* Creates support for Native American and Native Hawaiian museum services.  (Similar authority for Native American and Native Hawaiian library services exists in current law.)


* Requires that the Director, where appropriate, ensure that the library activities of IMLS are coordinated with the school library provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.


* Provides appropriations authority of $232,000,000 for library activities in FY 2004 and such sums in the subsequent years through 2009; and appropriations authority of $38,600,000 for museum activities in FY 2004 and such sums in subsequent years through 2009.


* Increases the indemnity limits in the Arts and Artifacts Indemnity Act, facilitating international exchange and display of works of art, books, rare documents, artifacts and other published materials.




“Even with the rise of 24-hour news cycle and internet blog sites, there will always be the need for a good book.  This bill helps to ensure our libraries do not become a relic of the past, but remain an important part of our neighborhoods and our culture.  Libraries in communities around the country are set to benefit from this bill.  I am also pleased that this bill will coordinate its action with the school library provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as allow funds to be used to recruit new professionals into the field of library science.”  Senator Judd Gregg Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
 “Approval of the Museum and Library Services Act is an important bipartisan legislative accomplishment.  It’s a strong vote of confidence in libraries and museums across the country.  It tells them we value the indispensable work they do in their communities to enhance literacy, encourage learning, promote the arts and make history come alive.” Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Ranking Member Senate Committee on Health , Education, Labor and Pensions
"Museums and libraries are rich centers of learning, woven into the fabric of our communities, big and small, urban and rural.  Today's libraries and museum are places where a love for reading, learning and discovery are born and renewed again and again.  I am proud to continue in the tradition of my predecessor Senator Pell by working to secure passage of this legislation to ensure the continued vitality of our nation's museums and libraries."  Senator Jack Reed, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

"The Museum and Library Services Act of 2003 maintains essential federal assistance to our country's cornerstone learning institutions. Museums and libraries are fundamental components of strong and healthy communities in our society and it is important that we help them continue to provide their invaluable services."  Representative Peter Hoekstra, Chairman, House Subcommittee on Select Education

 “This year there will be more than 865 million visits to museums in America and millions will use their local library for books and other community services. Libraries and museums play a vital role in educating our children and promoting communities.  Throughout our nation, libraries are at the forefront of reading and family literacy programs. Libraries are critical to many people with disabilities, providing them with specialized materials and resources that are obtainable in a single accessible location. For those with limited financial resources or who live in remote areas, libraries provide access available nowhere else to books and reference materials, computer services, and other community-based services,” continued Boehner. “This bipartisan effort ensures that museums and libraries across America will continue to thrive.”   Representative John Boehner, Chairman, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Committee

“Libraries and museums play a vital role in who we are as Americans.  A community with a library or a museum is a community with a window beyond its own world and into the world around it.  As we grow in the information age, these living institutions play even more important roles in our lives.  I am pleased the Congress and the President have acted to support the Institute of Museum and Library Services in this reauthorization bill.”  Representative Ralph Regula, Chairman House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies


About the Institute of Museum and Library Services  The Institute is an independent Federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners.  The Institute fosters leadership, innovation, and a lifetime of learning by supporting the nation's 15,000 museums and 122,000 libraries. The Institute also encourages partnerships to expand the educational benefit of libraries and museums.  To learn more about the Institute, please log onto: