Monday, December 12, 2011

Creating a Nation of Learners IMLS 2012-2016

The Institute of Museum and Library Services Strategic Plan, 2012 – 2016

Creating a Nation of Learners

U.S. museums and libraries are at the forefront in the movement to create a nation of learners. As stewards of cultural heritage with rich, authentic content, they provide learning experiences for everyone. With built infrastructure in nearly every community in the nation and dedicated, knowledgeable staff, they connect people to one another and to the full spectrum of human experience. The nation’s museums and libraries provide opportunities for powerful learning experiences that inspire people throughout their lifetimes and contribute to the civic life of our nation.

Trusted in their communities, libraries and museums play important roles in creating an informed and educated citizenry and transmitting the values of our democracy. Our role at the Institute of Museum and Library Services is to provide libraries, museums, and policy makers with the resources they need to ensure that the American ideal of open access to information and ideas flourishes, through leadership, data, analysis, and funding.

Museums and libraries help to level the playing field. They provide access to technology, strengthen community relationships, and offer an entrée to services and information that some individuals might not otherwise have. Without libraries and museums it would be more difficult, potentially impossible, for some Americans to seek employment opportunities, enhance their education, and lead healthier lives. Libraries and museums are not luxuries; they are fundamental to supporting the civic life and well-being of our nation.

Economic changes are causing reductions in all sources of public (state and local) and private (corporation, foundation, and individual) funding for libraries and museums. At the same time, public demand for library and museum services is increasing. As stressed public agencies cut back on service, communities are more fully leveraging the assets of libraries and museums and calling on them to fill the gaps by providing workforce services, afterschool programming, teacher training, and broadband access.

Although many libraries and museums are fully embracing new service opportunities, they are also facing difficult decisions. Serious questions must be addressed about how libraries and museums will continue to meet public demand. Reductions in staff have direct impacts on public service, such as reduced hours, less programming for hard-to-reach populations, and less capacity to support important learning outcomes. Changing information delivery services, new platforms, and outdated information policies are creating new challenges to provide critical materials, both print and digital, that are the foundation for all other services.

In 2010, against a backdrop of societal change and economic uncertainty, Congress passed and the President signed the reauthorization of the Museum and Library Services Act (the Act), giving IMLS unique federal responsibilities for “the development and implementation of policy to ensure the availability of museum, library, and information services adequate to meet the essential information, education, research, economic, cultural, and civic needs of the people of the United States.”

Strategic Goal 1
IMLS places the learner at the center and supports engaging experiences in libraries and museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities and our global society.

Strategic Goal 2
IMLS promotes museums and libraries as strong community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality.

Strategic Goal 3
IMLS supports exemplary stewardship of museum and library collections and promotes the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge and cultural heritage.

Strategic Goal 4
IMLS advises the President and Congress on plans, policies, and activities that sustain and increase public access to information and ideas.

Strategic Goal 5
IMLS achieves excellence in public management and performs as a model organization through strategic alignment of IMLS resources and prioritization of programmatic activities, maximizing value for the American public.