On 13 June 2007, NSC Alliance president Dr. Michael A. Mares sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Obey (D-WI) and Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA), encouraging increased fiscal year (FY) 2008 funding for the Institute for Museum and Library Service. The letter was in response to a Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee recommendation that would have provided flat funding for various museum programs within IMLS. The Subcommittees recommended funding level would also provide only 50 percent of the President’s requested budget for a new IMLS Policy, Research and Statistics initiative.

The letter reads:

Dear Chairman Obey and Ranking Member Lewis:

As the Committee continues its deliberations on the Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY 2008, the natural science museum community hopes the Committee will be able to find funding to provide the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) with the President’s requested budget.
We recognize that the Committee is facing serious challenges and difficult decisions. However, the modest grants and technical assistance services provided by IMLS to our nation’s museums are vital. As you are well aware, our nation’s business and higher-education leaders have expressed a great deal of concern about our continued global competitiveness in scientific, technological and engineering fields. Natural history museums, and scientific collections and exhibits at parks, zoos and aquaria, often provide students with their earliest exposure to scientific discovery and undoubtedly contribute to our capacity to recruit, educate and train our next generation of scientists. Although they do not provide full funding for many of these formal and informal education programs, IMLS grants are essential to these programmatic efforts. Moreover, IMLS provides important resources to ensure the continued professional development of museum personnel to better serve the needs of government agencies, citizens, and visitors to our nation’s museums and to better preserve our nation’s scientific and cultural heritage.
Importantly, the FY 2008 budget request for IMLS included $4 million for Policy, Research and Statistics. This is important funding that will support efforts by IMLS to work with the museum community to gather data that can inform the management of future programs and work to strengthen the nation’s irreplaceable museum and collections community. The Subcommittee has recommended $2 million for this portion of the budget. At this funding level, IMLS will likely not be able to initiate important research and data gathering initiatives supported by the museum community. Efforts to provide the requested $4 million would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this request. If you require additional information, please contact me or NSC Alliance director of public policy, Robert Gropp, at 202-628-1500 x 250.