â€śWeâ€™re very excited for Dr. Hayden,â€ť says Roswell Encina, director of communications at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.
Of course, heâ€™s referring to Carla D. Hayden, whom President Obama has nominated to be the next librarian to lead the Library of Congress. â€śIf sheâ€™s confirmed by the Senate, sheâ€™ll be the first woman and the first African American to serve as the librarian of Congress,â€ť he says. â€śItâ€™s an honor to have her work recognized by President Obama.â€ť
Hayden has been CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore since 1993. During the cityâ€™s recent protests, she kept the libraries open. â€śIt was very evident that people needed, not only information, but a safe place and a trusted place to go,â€ť Hayden says in a video on the White House website. â€śWe 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.â€ť In a statement, President Obama says he and the first lady have known Hayden since she worked at the Chicago Public Library. She was deputy commissioner and chief librarian there 1991â€“1993. â€śDr. Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in todayâ€™s digital culture,â€ť Obama says. â€śShe has the proven experience, dedication, and deep knowledge of our nationâ€™s libraries to serve our country well, and thatâ€™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 positionâ€”both of which are long overdue.â€ť
Hayden is a former president of the American Library Association. During her presidency, she was chosen as one of Ms. magazineâ€™s women of the year.
The magazine noted how she knew what was at stake in the face of the USA Patriot Act: â€śWe serve the underserved,â€ť Hayden says. â€śWhen libraries fight against the PATRIOT Act, or against [mandatory Internet filters], weâ€™re fighting for the public. Most of the people who use public libraries donâ€™t have the opportunity to buy books at a bookstore or on Amazon.com. What the library does is protect the rights of all people to fully and freely access information and to pursue knowledge without fear of repercussion.â€ť
In January 2010, the president nominated her to the National Museum and Library Services Board; she was confirmed by the Senate six months later.
As librarian, Dr. Hayden would reportedly oversee a staff of about 3,100, an annual budget of nearly $600 million, and a collection of 160 million items.