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.
Copyright is the only right defined in the main text of the U.S. Constitution. It is specified in Article 1, Section 8, so it didn’t have to be added in the amendments known as the Bill of Rights, which tells us how important the concept of copyright was to the founders. They enumerated its dimensions in a sparse sentence: “To promote the Progress of science and useful Arts by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
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.
Macmillan debuts a new YA imprint. Win free copies of Reproductive Rights—a teen nonfiction title. Apply for Library of Congress literacy grants. An eighth Harry Potter book was just announced. These tidbits and more in SLJTeen’s news roundup.
It has been a busy time for those of us who watch the doings of the Copyright Office. In addition to releasing a massive report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization, about which I have written here, the Copyright Office (CO) is the subject of a piece of legislation introduced as a discussion draft on June 3. The bill, if it were officially introduced and ultimately enacted, would remove the CO from the Library of Congress (LC) and establish it as an independent agency of the federal government, under the Executive Branch. Then, while we were still considering the ramifications of this idea, came the announcement on June 10 of the pending retirement of Dr. James Billington, who has been the Librarian of Congress for the past 29 years.
All eyes are on the Library of Congress (LC) as the iconic institution approaches what promises to be a transformational time. When long-standing Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced his plan to retire in January 2016, bets started flying on who would be the best new leader. The job, to be filled by President Barack Obama’s appointment, with confirmation from Congress, is an exciting and challenging one.
“I am not a librarian, but I am THE librarian!” Daniel Boorstin said to me several times when he was Librarian of Congress. It seemed to amuse him, and it only slightly annoyed me. There had been some controversy over President Gerald Ford, like so many before him, appointing a distinguished elder scholar to lead the Library of Congress (LC) rather than a credentialed, experienced librarian. Of the 13 Librarians of Congress, only two were really librarians.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) on April 16 introduced the “Breaking Down Barriers to Innovation Act,” a bill that would make significant changes to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which gives the Library of Congress the power to grant exemptions to DMCA’s ban on circumventing digital rights management (DRM) software, encryption, or other digital restrictions.