Susan Hildreth, M.L.S.’73
The Nation’s Librarian
By Jim Sciancalepore, M.A.’93
ost jobs don’t require an FBI background check and confirmation by the U.S. Senate, but Susan Hildreth doesn’t have a typical job.
After all, she oversees a $200 million annual budget. She and her team are responsible for supporting and advocating on behalf of thousands of museums and more than 100,000 libraries nationwide.
And she was appointed to her position by President Barack Obama.
Hildreth is director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that helps America’s museums and libraries remain relevant and vital. Her four-year appointment is a testament to her proven leadership and extensive background in the field of library science – a foundation that was formed at the University at Albany.
“I got a very good education,” she said when describing her UAlbany experience. “It was definitely an important step in my career.”
Hildreth has fond memories of excellent faculty members, and of being among the first students to use the then newly constructed uptown campus.
When discussing her profession, she acknowledges the rapidly changing role of librarians in an increasingly technology-empowered world. However, she believes they can still play a critical part.
“The librarian used to be a gatekeeper,” Hildreth explained. “Now, we can use our knowledge and experience to be more of a navigator ... to guide people to the information, books or resources they need.”
Looking back on more than three decades of work in library science, she noted that it’s a very satisfying feeling to help people find what they’re looking for. This is a mission Hildreth continues today, on a national scale.