February 17, 2018

President Obama Announces Intent To Nominate Carla D. Hayden as Librarian of Congress

Update: You can sign an online petition to Congress in favor of Carla Hayden’s nomination here.


Dr. Carla D. Hayden
Photo courtesy of City of Baltimore

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).

In a statement, 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.”

In June 2015 James Billington, who had served as the 13th Librarian of Congress since he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, announced his retirement effective January 1, 2016, but he stepped down on September 29. Since then David Mao, then Deputy Librarian of Congress, has been serving as Acting Librarian. Billington’s retirement coincided with a storm of criticism of the Library of Congress (LC) for its lack of technology oversight, response to contemporary copyright challenges, and failure to hire a permanent chief information officer since 2012 (Bernard A. Barton Jr. was appointed to the position on September 8). In November President Obama signed a law limiting the term of the Librarian of Congress to ten years, though a given Librarian can still be reappointed for multiple terms.

In addition, many in the library field spoke out in favor of appointing a credentialed librarian to the position. Only two Librarians of Congress have actually been librarians to date: L. Quincy Mumford, former director of the Cleveland Public Library, and Herbert Putnam, a former director of the Boston Public Library and past president of ALA. Hayden holds a B.A. from Roosevelt University in Chicago and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago, and has worked in public, academic, and special libraries. The changing of the guard at LC presents a number of opportunities for transforming the 216-year-old institution, now including the potential to be led by the first woman, and the first African American, in in its history.


Hayden began her career at the Chicago Public Library (CPL) as children’s librarian from 1973–79 and young adult services coordinator from 1979–82, stepping into the role of library services coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry from 1982–87. From 1987–91 she served as assistant professor of library science at the University of Pittsburgh. Hayden then returned to CPL, where she was deputy commissioner and chief librarian from 1991–93.

Hayden was appointed director of EPFL in 1993, at a time when the library’s infrastructure and outreach were at a crossroads. In her 23 years at EPFL, Hayden oversaw system-wide technology updates, a new annex for the Central Library, the renovation of ten branches, and the construction of the new Southeast Anchor Library, Baltimore’s first new library building in more than 35 years. The $112 million renovation of the Central Library/State Library Resource Center, currently in progress, is scheduled for completion in 2018.

EPFL made news last April, when the Pennsylvania Avenue branch remained open in the face of citywide protests after Freddie Gray, an African American man, died in police custody. Hayden, along with Ferguson Municipal Public Library, MO, director Scott Bonner, became a spokesperson for libraries stepping up to serve their communities in troubled times. During her ALA presidency, Hayden had occasion to publicly comment on a number of challenges to the fundamentals of civil liberties in libraries, speaking out against the 2003 Supreme Court ruling on the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and revisions to the USA PATRIOT Act.

LJhaydenCVjan96Hayden has received numerous awards for her commitment to the profession. In addition to being the first African American to be named LJ’s Librarian of the Year in 1995, she was one of Ms. Magazine’s ten Women of the Year in 2003, and received ALA’s 2013 Joseph W. Lippincott Award, honoring distinguished service to the profession of librarianship.

“This is truly a great honor to be nominated by President Obama to lead the nation’s library, the Library of Congress,” said Hayden. “It is my privilege to serve the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the citizens of Baltimore for more than 20 years, during which time we restored its world-renowned reputation. I want to thank the Pratt librarians and staff, the Board, our donors and partners, and most importantly our patrons for entrusting in us their trust to provide equal access to a variety of programs, services, and resources to people across Baltimore and the State of Maryland.”

In the event of Hayden’s confirmation, the EPFL board of directors and trustees will begin a nationwide search for a permanent CEO. “We are thankful for Dr. Carla Hayden’s dedication and the amazing work she has accomplished in the 23 years she spent with the Pratt Library,” said Patricia Lasher, Board of Directors and Trustees Chair. “She has made this library system a world renowned institution and continued Enoch Pratt’s legacy by providing a place of learning for all citizens with amazing resources, services, and programming.”


Hayden was one of several library leaders proposed for the Librarian of Congress position when Billington announced his retirement, including New York Public Library president Anthony W. Marx and former Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan. In October, Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Sen. Ben Cardin (both D-MD) wrote the White House, encouraging President Obama to consider nominating Hayden. “I’m proud to have recommended Dr. Hayden to President Obama to serve as our next Librarian of Congress, and look forward to her confirmation by the Senate,” said Senator Mikulski in a statement to the press. “Dr. Hayden has brought knowledge and truth to our communities, helping the leaders of today blaze trails and forge the way to the future. She has done a great service to Baltimore families, leading the way as Enoch Pratt Libraries light up the way for so many with knowledge.”

Added Senator Cardin, “Dr. Hayden is a cultural treasure to our city and a long-time defender of the free flow of information…. While the loss will be a great one for Baltimore City, I look forward to introducing Dr. Hayden to my colleagues and to welcoming her as our nation’s top librarian.”

“Dr. Hayden will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role,” said IMLS Director Kathryn K. Matthew in a press release. “She has demonstrated a firm commitment to libraries, museums and archives and is especially adept at finding new and innovative ways to engage communities and populations. As the Library of Congress continues to expand its digital and outreach capabilities, Dr. Hayden will be well-situated to lead the institution into the future. We at IMLS look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Hayden in her new role.”

“The Association of Research Libraries [ARL] is pleased that President Obama has nominated Carla Hayden to this vital post at a critical time,” ARL president Larry Alford said in a statement. “Now more than ever, the Librarian of Congress ensures the broad access to information that is essential to teaching, learning, and civic engagement.”

At ALA, the response to Hayden’s nomination has been particularly enthusiastic. “The President could not have made a better choice,” said ALA President Sari Feldman in a statement. “Hats off to President Obama for nominating Dr. Hayden, a professional librarian uniquely positioned with the leadership and management skills and understanding of digital technology to make the Library of Congress the preeminent national library in the world, highly-valued by and serving all Americans as a treasured resource. We look forward to working closely with her to further librarians’ bedrock principle that all Americans everywhere deserve and must have equitable access to the information that they need to succeed and lead productive lives in the digital age.”

Below: Meet President Obama’s Nomination for Librarian of Congress:

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  1. Carla Hayden is on the ground floor of the American Library Association efforts to nullify the 2003 US Supreme Court case of United States v. American Library Association. In 13 years since, that case is largely ignored as a direct result of Carla’s leadership as then-ALA President, many, many victims of illegal child p 0 rn in libraries have been harmed and many librarians are sexually harassed. Indeed, ALA is one of the nation’s leading facilitators of sexual exploitation, in part based on the foundation Carla laid. There is no First Amendment right to Internet p 0 rnography in public libraries, but, thanks in part to Carla Hayden, even 13 years later, people simply do not know that as Carla/ALA worked to hide that information from the public. That said, I cannot foresee how she could be so damaging should her nomination be confirmed, and she may even do well. But a lot of people have been harmed thanks in part to her actions to nullify SCOTUS; she does not deserve such a nomination.

    • bob roberts says:


    • You know what your problem is Kleinman? It’s that you suffer from borderline personality disorder, and the nature of your disorder leads you to believe that you have a coherent thesis when you don’t. You’ve never presented a comprehensive, convincing or thorough argument on any topic. The reason that people have tried to “silence” you is because you’re annoying.

      Your rants about child pornography in libraries are just bizarre. Almost every state in the country already has laws that bar viewing of pornographic materials on any public terminal in a facility that provides programming for children – public libraries included. Most children’s areas make use of specialized terminals like children’s game machines provided by vendors like AWE that do not provide direct access to the Internet, or Linux based terminals like Edubuntu that are compatible with “white-listing” applications like DNSMasque that permit systems librarians to limit web access to a handful of pre-selected sites.

      Your rants are ridiculous. Feel free to take issue with any point I’ve made. We’ll drill down into this discussion just as far as you’d like.

    • “You’ve never presented a comprehensive, convincing or thorough argument on any topic.” Because no one has ever given me an honest platform to speak. After all these years, someone (other than Rory Litwin who only interviewed me to try to get me to admit something horrible must have happened to me as a child to be so focused on ALA) has finally spoken with me. None other than the new leader of the Office for Intellectual Freedom on his personal blog in a post called “Trolls” where we was speaking about me. I asked him for discussion of the issues as it is the OIF at the center of ALA’s most harmful policies. His response was to absolutely deny my claims and threaten to delete any further comments from me. There’s your intellectual freedom straight from the leader. There was no honest discussion. There never is any discussion. There’s never any interest in ever once looking at the proof of things or at ALA’s efforts to destroy proof of things. There’s just name calling, like you did, like he did. Like everyone does who is protecting ALA’s pro child porn policies and homophobic behavior to protect those policies. The problem for ALA is that the evidence is in ALA’s own words and actions. But pointing to those words and actions is something people just do not do in ALA. You all know it. It’s what Will Manley wrote about a number of times. It’s just the way it is at ALA.

      One day I’ll be able to reach over the heads of the people at ALA protecting its dangerous policies and promoting homophobia and I’ll get to a wider audience. At that time, the house of cards will fall, and it will be based on ALA’s own words and actions, not mine.

      That said, this is a post about Carla Hayden. I’ll do no further “drilling down” with you unless it’s about how harmful she has been, precisely by promoting the work of Judith Krug and the OIF to convince people to defy local law and endanger entire communities and library employees.

    • No one owes you an “honest platform” to speak when what you say doesn’t make sense or change in the face of contrary facts. There is nothing stopping you from talking directly to ALA members or librarians in the United State.

      The internet is an open platform to which people can find what you have to say. You think that “free speech” means that people MUST open up their websites and publications to your baseless conjecture and that anything less than is suppressing the truth. Your knowledge of the First Amendment is incorrect (legally and spirit-of-the-law) and your understanding of ALA policies is either deeply flawed or simply not supported by the facts.

      You. Are. Wrong.

    • Speaking out against ALA’s facilitation of child pornography in public libraries is “bizarre”? “Your rants about child pornography in libraries are just bizarre.”

      ALA will never, ever admit this or publicly announce a change in policy, other then just changing the policy, but ALA has apparently listened to my “bizarre” “rants” and has, after many years thanks to Judith Krug, changed the public page teaching librarians how to write policies for libraries. No longer does ALA tell librarians to ignore child porn. Now they tell librarians to report child porn.

      Yes, librarians, you are now free to identify and report child pornography without incurring the wrath of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

      Details on the policy change I helped bring about (with my “bizarre” “rants”) can be seen here:

      “American Library Association Changes Child Porn Policies Due to SHUT UP! Busting Them!”

      Read more http://hillbuzz.org/american-library-association-changes-child-porn-policies-due-to-shut-up-busting-them-39377

  2. I worked with Dr. Hayden at the Chicago Public Library. She is an excellent choice for this position, and it is exciting to have a leader in the library profession nominated as Librarian of Congress. I hope the Senate will move quickly and positively on this appointment.

  3. kamlesh vyas says:

    I have not worked or heard about her. But I am engaged with this profession for long time and as per my knowledge I think Dr Hyden is an excellent choice for respectable position. Best wishes.

  4. Nirosha kahawala says:

    Congratulation …..