President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate Carla D Hayden as librarian of Congress, according to the White House.
If the Senate confirms her nomination as the 14th librarian of Congress, she would become both the first woman and the first African American to hold the post in the library’s 214-year history.
President Obama said, “Michelle and I have known Dr Carla Hayden for a long time, since her days working at the Chicago Public Library, and I am proud to nominate her to lead our nation’s oldest federal institution as our 14th Librarian of Congress. Dr Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today’s digital culture.
“She has the proven experience, dedication, and deep knowledge of our nation’s libraries to serve our country well and that’s why I look forward to working with her in the months ahead. If confirmed, Dr Hayden would be the first woman and the first African American to hold the position—both of which are long overdue.”
“During the recent unrest in Baltimore, it was very evident that people needed not only information but a safe place and a trusted place to go,” she says in the video embedded above. “So when we decided to open the library right across from the epicenter of the unrest, we knew that the community would be responsive.
“And then we became a site for people to actually get food, get supplies. We opened up our meeting room, and so it became that community meeting place. People were so relieved to have a safe place to be. … I believe in what libraries can be for a civilized society, and a country that is open to all,” she said.
Ms Hayden is now the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland, a position she has held since 1993. She served as president of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004 and was nominated by President Obama to be a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board in January 2010 and was confirmed in June.
Prior to joining the Pratt Library, she was deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991 to 1993 and an assistant professor for library and information science at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1991; the library services coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago from 1982 to 1987; and the young adult services coordinator for the Chicago Public Library from 1979 to 1982 and a library associate and children’s librarian from 1973 to 1979.
In 1995, she was the first African American to receive Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award in recognition of her outreach services at the Pratt Library, which included an afterschool center for Baltimore teens offering homework assistance and college and career counseling. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University in Chicago and a master’s and doctorate from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago.
Also in the news today, the Library of Congress announced that it has digitized and made available online an extensive collection of papers and other documents from Rosa Parks, including her firsthand recollections of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott and personal correspondence with the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The New York Times has the story.
The collection includes more than 7,000 handwritten items and about 2,500 photographs, including family photographs, tax returns, and a handwritten recipe for “featherlite pancakes.”