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Dr. Carla Hayden Nominated for Librarian of Congress

by on April 15, 2016

In February 2016, President Obama nominated Dr. Carla Hayden to be the next Librarian of Congress. Currently the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Dr. Hayden would not only be the first female Librarian of Congress but also the first African-American, if she is confirmed. She has previously been the Deputy Commissioner and Chief Librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991 to 1993.

President and First Lady Obama are well aware of her qualifications, having known her since her days at the Chicago Public Library. The President, in a White House statement, applauded Hayden’s passion for digital literacy, noting that, “Dr. Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today’s digital culture.”[1] Furthermore, the potential fourteenth Librarian of Congress has demonstrated a strong history of social justice. In a White House video, she remembers keeping the Enoch Pratt Free Library open during the social unrest in Baltimore, knowing the community would need a safe place to go. “People were so relieved to have a safe place to be,” she recalls.[2]

Hayden’s list of impressive qualifications include Library Associate and Children’s Librarian at the Chicago Public Library in 1973, to teaching at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1991, to being the President of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004. Additionally, she was nominated for a position on the National Museum and Library Services Board by President Obama in 2010 and confirmed by the Senate six months later.

Hayden would replace the current Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, aged eighty-six, who officially stepped down on January 1, 2016, after twenty-eight years of service.[3] While Billington had ushered the Library of Congress into the digital age, many felt he had perhaps stayed on the job too long, according to a Washington Post article.[4]  She knows her potential new job will have a great deal of influence, and has observed that her position would affect  “how people view the future of libraries and what a national library can be. It’s inclusive. It can be part of everyone’s story” [5]


[1] Office of the Press Secretary, “President Obama Announces His Intent to Nominate Carla D. Hayden as Librarian of Congress,” press release on the White House [website], February 24, 2016.

[2]Meet President Obama’s Nominee for Librarian of Congress,” YouTube video, 3:46, on the White House website, posted by “The White House,” February 24, 2016.

[3]After Nearly 30 Years, Librarian Of Congress Is Calling It Quits,” by Bill Naylor, National Public Radio, last updated June 11, 2015.

[4] Peggy McGlone, “America’s ‘national library’ is lacking in leadership, yet another report finds,” Washington Post, March 31, 2015.

[5] Elizabeth Blair, “Obama Nominates Carla Hayden To Lead Library Of Congress,” National Public Radio, February 24, 2016.


Enoch Pratt Free Library

Chicago Public Library

“The Next Librarian of Congress?” Inside Higher Ed.

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