Carla Hayden Becomes First Black Woman To Head The Library Of Congress

September 15, 2016  |  



Career librarian Carla Hayden has been appointed Head of the Library of Congress, making her the first African American and first woman to ever hold that position. Chicago-born Hayden was sworn in Wednesday as the 14th Librarian of Congress. She was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts using Abraham Lincoln’s Bible, which is not only part of the library’s collection, but was used by President Obama at his inauguration. Obama nominated Hayden last year and she was confirmed by the Senate to serve a 10-year term (previously the position was considered a lifetime appointment).

“As a descendant of people who were denied the right to read, to now have the opportunity to serve and lead the institution that is the national symbol of knowledge, is a historic moment,” Hayden said following her swearing in, which was attended by numerous members of Congress and actor and literacy advocate LeVar Burton, the longtime host of “Reading Rainbow,” reported The Washington Post.

The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, and it serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world.

Prior to this appointment, Hayden, 64, was the CEO of Baltimore’s library system and while there she made the unprecedented move to keep Baltimore’s libraries open during last year’s civic unrest in the city.

In her new historical role, Hayden said her goals include digitizing materials in the library’s collection of 162 million items, the largest in the world. She also plans to seek corporate sponsorships and philanthropic contributions to aid in this effort and to supplement the library’s annual budget of $640 million.  “Digitizing … is rather expensive and labor-intensive,” she told The Associated Press in an interview after the swearing-in. “You can’t just take a photo and say, ‘Here, we’ll just put it up.’”

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