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On January 19, 2011, President Obama appointed Susan Hildreth to be director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Hildreth has been the city librarian in Seattle for the past two years. Her nomination to her new post was confirmed by the US Senate by unanimous consent on December 22, 2010.

Before moving to Seattle, Hildreth served for five years as California’s state librarian, a position to which she was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Previously, Hildreth was at the San Francisco Public Library, where she served as deputy director and then city librarian. Her background also includes five years as deputy library director at the Sacramento Public Library, several years as Placer County's head librarian, and four years as library director for the Benicia Public Library, all in California. She began her career as a branch librarian at the Edison Township Library in New Jersey.

Hildreth was active in the American Library Association, serving as president of the Public Library Association in 2006. She has a master's degree in library science from State University of New York at Albany, a master's degree in business administration from Rutgers University, and a bachelor of arts, cum laude, from Syracuse University.

Hildreth will serve a four-year term as the Director of the Institute. The directorship of the Institute alternates between individuals from the museum and library communities. She succeeds Marsha L. Semmel, who served as IMLS Acting Director since March 14, following the departure of IMLS Director Anne-Imelda M. Radice, Ph.D., at the conclusion of her four-year term. Semmel is currently the deputy director for museums and director for strategic partnerships.