Jim Hydock – February 29, 2016
According to a White House press release, as well as various news reports, President Obama has nominated Carla D. Hayden for the position of 14thLibrarian of Congress. If confirmed by Congress, Hayden would become the first woman and the first African-American to hold that post. Hayden is currently the chief executive of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, a position she’s held since 1993. She has had a long career as a librarian, starting out in the Chicago Public Library system, and was President of the American Library Association in 2003-04, where she earned high marks with her efforts to preserve privacy rights threatened by the Patriot Act. During her tenure in Baltimore, she’s been able to upgrade the Library’s technology, and is generally regarded as a dynamic, creative leader.
As Outsell pointed out in a recent Insight, it’s high time for some fresh blood at the Library of Congress. The Library has been lagging in technology development, and has lacked a vision for what it means to be a world-class library in the 21st century. A new Librarian of Congress of Hayden’s stature would be a giant step in the right direction. The only obstacle at the moment is the ongoing situation of Congress and Obama being at loggerheads, which could delay the confirmation process. Let’s hope that we can sidestep the partisan rancor, and accelerate the revitalization of the Library.