On February 24th, 2016 when president Barrack Obama announced his intent to nominate Dr. Carla D. Hayden for the new Librarian of Congress position that opened up, he stated that, “Dr. Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today’s digital culture. She has the proven experience, dedication, and deep knowledge of our nation’s libraries to serve our country well and that’s why I look forward to working with her in the months ahead.”
In a 74–18 roll call vote, the Senate confirmed Dr. Hayden as the new Librarian of Congress, bringing with her the expertise needed to take the Library from its digital infancy into a more modern, technological position. Not only will she be the first professional librarian in over 60 years to take the role, she is the first African American, and the first female to do so as well, proclaiming in her own words that “those two aspects of my life make this even more significant in terms of 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,” and that she, “believes in what libraries can be, for a civilized society and a country that is open to all.”
Not only does she bring extensive experience to the job, she also understands the fundamental importance of access. She has been lauded by her colleagues and associations such as the ALA for her stance on the role of technology in libraries, and their importance in the community.
Earlier this year in April, Baltimore was in a state of civil unrest and Dr. Hayden’s decision to keep the doors of her library open throughout that stressful time shows her ability to exhibit great leadership during trying times. Schools and businesses closed down, but Hayden chose to stay active stating that, “it was very evident that people needed not only information, but a safe and trusted place to go.” The library became a sanctuary of sorts, a place where people could go to get food and supplies, and they opened their meeting rooms for discussions to take place. Reflecting on this, the new Librarian of Congress says that “people were so relieved to have a safe place to be, and making those libraries vital to communities will always be something that I will look back on.”
Her commendable leadership and wholehearted commitment to making libraries what they are, is undoubtedly born of her love for both preserving knowledge and making it accessible. This is something we here at PRO-TEK can relate to fully, as we’re a group of film enthusiasts, collectors, and craftspeople who believe in the preservation and access to film with the same conviction that Dr. Hayden so clearly communicates through her mission.
Congratulations Dr. Hayden!