On September 14, Dr. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th librarian of Congress. The selection of Dr. Hayden is a landmark appointment; she is the first woman and the first African-American to head the Library of Congress. In addition, Hayden is also only the third career librarian to serve as Librarian of Congress, which has previously been held by historians or other scholars. The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library with over 160,000,000 items.
Dr. Hayden grew up in Chicago, attending Roosevelt University and then the University of Chicago Graduate School Library. Her first position out of library school was with the Museum of Science and Industry, where she meet Michelle and Barack Obama. In 1991, Dr. Hayden became second-in-command at the Chicago Public Library. Then in 1993, she was selected as director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. As director, Hayden was selected as Librarian of the Year by the Library Journal, she served as president of the American Librarian Association, and received national praise for keeping the library open during riots in Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s arrest.
Dr. Hayden has been a champion of “Equity of Access” through her entire career. She fought against the Bush Administration and the PATRIOT Act, earning significant praise. As Librarian of Congress, Dr. Hayden has vowed to digitize the Library of Congress’s collection, providing equal access to our nation’s literary and information resources.
In her nomination address, Dr. Hayden said, “I’ve talked for years and cited how slaves were forbidden to read, you could get your hand chopped off, or people who taught slaves to read were punished, that’s Fredrick Douglass’s thing. So to have an African American heading up the world’s largest library is not quite an oxymoron, but it speaks to the history.”
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— Carla Hayden (@LibnOfCongress) September 14, 2016
St. Lifer, Evan, and Michael Rogers. “Hayden leaves Chicago PL to head Enoch Pratt Free Lib.” Library Journal 118, no. 10 (June 1993): 19.Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 30, 2016).
Woods, Baynard. “Carla Hayden: New Librarian of Congress Makes History, with an Eye on the Future.” The Guardian. September 15, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/15/carla-hayden-librarian-congress-first-woman-african-american-post-interview.