February 26, 2016
Obama nominates Carla D. Hayden for Librarian of Congress
by Julia Fleischaker
In a press release officially posted online on February 24th, President Obama announced that he was nominating Carla D. Hayden, the head of Baltimore’s library system and former president of the American Library Association, to lead the Library of Congress.
Obama’s decision was announced in a video posted on Facebook:
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.”
According to Nicholas Fandos at The New York Times, “Dr. Hayden would oversee a staff of about 3,100 employees, an annual budget of almost $600 million and a 160-million-item collection, most of which has not yet been digitized.” If confirmed, Hayden would be the 14th person person in the position; notably, she would be the first woman and the first African American.
In an email released to the public, Obama described Hayden as someone who has “devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today’s digital culture…Under her leadership, the Pratt library has become the largest provider of public-access computers in Maryland.”
In a video posted on the White House website, Hayden talks about keeping the Pratt Library open 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,” Hayden says. “We became a site for people to actually get food, to get supplies. We opened up our meeting room. It became that community meeting place. People were so relieved to have a safe place to be.”
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.