A new era has begun for the Library of Congress (LC), and if Carla Hayden’s first gestures in her role as Librarian of Congress signal sustained momentum to come, the LC of the future might just live up to the hopes of so many. Since her swearing in, on September 14, Hayden has set a compelling tone, one that is purposeful, inclusive, and infused with an important balance between the awesome responsibility of, and a sense of joy in, the work to come.
On September 14, Dr. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the new Librarian of Congress. The first African American and the first woman to hold the position in American history, she is also only the third to have worked in a library prior to her appointment. After a moving ceremony in the Library of Congress’s (LC) 1897 Jefferson Building and a reception to meet “as many staff members as they could stand,” Hayden sat down with LJ in her ceremonial office to outline her vision for the library.
At a historic ceremony on September 14 library leaders from around the country, Washington elected officials, Library of Congress (LC) staff, friends, family, and a cheering section of former employees crowded into the Great Hall of LC’s Thomas Jefferson Building to see Dr. Carla Hayden sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress. Hayden, former CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (EPFL) in Baltimore, is the first woman and the first African American to serve in the role—and only the third practicing librarian.
At a four-minute hearing on June 9, the United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration voted unanimously to approve the nomination of Carla D. Hayden to serve as the 14th Librarian of Congress. The committee’s voice vote was unanimous that Hayden’s nomination be reported to the full Senate for consideration with the recommendation that it be approved. Hayden, who was nominated in February by President Barack Obama to succeed former Librarian James Billington, testified before the committee at a strongly positive hearing on April 20.
In an amicable session on April 20, Librarian of Congress nominee Carla D. Hayden testified at a Senate Committee on Rules and Administration hearing in Washington, DC. Hayden, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in February to succeed former Librarian James Billington, offered her personal testimony and answered questions on a range of issues concerning the Library of Congress (LC). The room was packed with enthusiastic supporters, including members of the American Library Association (ALA), of which Hayden was president from 2003–04; elected officials; a large contingent from Maryland, where Hayden currently serves as a CEO of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library (EPFL), and Hayden’s mother.
The Library of Congress (LC) is due for a turnaround, and with President Barack Obama’s announcement that Dr. Carla D. Hayden is his pick to be the new Librarian of Congress, promise is in the air. The library community has benefited from her leadership for decades. More important, the people of Baltimore, where Hayden has led the Enoch Pratt Free Library since 1993, have seen and lived what this creative leader is capable of when faced with a daunting challenge. She converted a dire situation there into a vital, responsive system. I am inspired by Hayden’s vision of LC as everyone’s library. She is a leader who can make that real in a way it never has been before.
President Barack Obama announced on February 24 his intent to nominate Carla D. Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (EPFL) in Baltimore and 1995 LJ Librarian of the Year, as Librarian of Congress. In addition to leading EPFL since 1993, Hayden served as president of the American Library Association (ALA) from 2003–04 and has been on the National Library and Museum Services Board, which advises the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), since 2010. Hayden was also a member of the 2010 steering committee that guided the formation of the Digital Public Library of American (DPLA).