ALA issues statement on proposed merger of NCLIS, IMLS

Contact: Larra Clark

ALA Media Relations


For Immediate Release

May 16, 2006

ALA issues statement on proposed merger of NCLIS, IMLS

(CHICAGO) The American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board adopted the following statement May 12, 2006, on the proposed merger of the U. S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS):

In the event that the proposed merger of NCLIS and IMLS is approved by Congress, it is critical that the essential activities that NCLIS performs are protected and preserved.

These activities include:

  • The ability of the IMLS and its Library Division to respond directly and independently to a Congressional inquiry or request, without having to go through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). That ability must be guaranteed in legislation.

  • Other government agencies should be required to consult with IMLS for advice and guidance on all domestic and international government activities related to libraries, museums and information policy. This is especially important for the State Department, Commerce Department and U.S. Trade Representative for copyright issues and the Department of Education for issues involving elementary, secondary and postsecondary school libraries.

  • IMLS must assume responsibility for U.S. national library standards, formerly under the purview of NCLIS, as it relates to PL 91-345, Section 5(a) 3, 4, and 6 (July 20, 1970), and continue the formal relationship in the standards community as a voting member of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO).

In addition:

  • OMB must be sure that IMLS has adequate funding and staff to meet its new responsibilities. The ability of the IMLS Research and Technology Office to support the transfer of the public and state library surveys from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) requires, in addition to permanent staff positions, adequate funding to maintain the dissemination, analysis, and state-level training currently in place. Funding also is required to continually improve survey instruments and processes to support IMLS’ leadership role in funding research of national impact.

  • The American Library Association and its Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies division (ASCLA) will work actively with other groups, including Congress, IMLS, NCLIS and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), that are seeking the statutory preservation and protection of these critical functions.