Some excellent breaking news from the American Association of Museums: the Institute of Museum and Library Services has been re-authorized by the Senate’s HELP Committee.

The IMLS is a federal grant-funding organization that provides support for museums and libraries. Their authorization (ie permission to exist) has been on the docket for many months now, and in these economic times everyone was a little worried.

No longer! Nice to have some good news. I can’t find a link to the AAM’s announcement anywhere, so I’m just going to copy it over here. If any of the senators on the committee represent you, PLEASE take a few minutes out of your day to write them a thank you email. (Hey, even if they don’t represent you, a nice thank you never goes awry!)

I’ve linked each senator to their contact information.

Senate HELP Committee Scheduled to Consider IMLS Reauthorization WEDNESDAY, December 1
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is set to consider S. 3984, the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 (that will reauthorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services), on Wednesday, December 1, at 9:45 a.m. The nomination of Susan Hildreth to be the new IMLS Director is also slated for Committee consideration. See the Committee Hearing Notice.

“This bipartisan bill contains language proposed by the museum field, including support for state needs assessments, conservation endowments, interagency collaboration, and a framework for increased state-wide coordination and federal-state partnerships,” said AAM President Ford W. Bell. “It represents a field-wide effort over many months and years, and I am so grateful to my colleagues in the museum field for working so collaboratively to get us where we are today.”

If the bill is approved by the Committee on Wednesday, it would next move to the full Senate for a vote on passage, and then to the House of Representatives. IMLS Director nominee Susan Hildreth would only need to be approved by the full Senate to become the next IMLS Director.

Bell noted the uncertainty about whether the reauthorization bill would be enacted in the final days of the 111th Congress. “Considering all the ‘must-pass’ items on the Congressional agenda, we must do all we can in the next few days and weeks to urge the Senate to pass this bill.”

What can you do?
If you have a close connection to your U.S. Senator and he/she sits on the Senate HELP Committee, please contact them at this time to encourage them to become a cosponsor of S. 3984 and to vote in favor of the bill during Committee and Senate floor consideration. You can call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator’s office.

Senator Jack Reed introduced S. 3984 along with original co-sponsors Burr, Enzi and Harkin on November 29, 2010. If you are represented by one of these Senators, please call and thank them for their support of museums and efforts on this bill.

Members of the Senate HELP Committee (
(listed alphabetically by state)

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
John McCain (R-AZ)
Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Tom Harkin, Committee Chairman (D-IA)*
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Richard Burr (R-NC)*
Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
Jack Reed (D-RI)*
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT)
Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Michael B. Enzi, Ranking Member (R-WY)*

*Original Cosponsor of the bill