[Update: 7/13/16, 2:55 p.m.: The U.S. Senate voted to approve the nomination of Dr. Carla Hayden as Librarian of Congress, with 68 voting yes.]
Though she’s been with the Enoch Pratt Free Library for 23 years, 2015 was particularly special for CEO Carla Hayden, as she received commendation across the country for her decision to keep libraries open during the unrest after the death of Freddie Gray.
This year is proving to be especially memorable for Hayden, as well. Today, President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate her as the 14th Librarian of Congress, to lead the nation’s library. She would be the first woman and the first African-American in history to hold the position.
Hayden said the nomination was a “great honor,” and that she was proud of the role the libraries have grown to play in Baltimore. “The thing that will keep me going throughout the rest of my career is the fact that in Baltimore, the library mattered to people’s lives,” she said in a video released by the White House.
Today, I'm nominating Dr. Carla Hayden to be our 14th Librarian of Congress. Michelle and I have known Carla since her days working at the Chicago Public Library, and her dedication to learning and education is unparalleled. More recently, she's been hard at work revitalizing Baltimore’s struggling library system as the CEO of Enoch Pratt Free Library. Last year, during the unrest in Baltimore, Dr. Hayden kept the doors of the Pratt open as a beacon for the community. Her understanding of the pivotal role that emerging technologies play in libraries will be essential in leading the Library of Congress as it continues to modernize its infrastructure and promote open access and full participation in today's digital world. Finally, Dr. Hayden will be the first woman and the first African-American to hold this position in its 214 year history – both of which are long overdue.I hope you'll take a couple minutes to watch this video and meet Carla for yourself. I have no doubt she'll make a fantastic Librarian of Congress.Posted by President Obama on Wednesday, February 24, 2016
“Michelle and I have known Carla since her days working at the Chicago Public Library, and her dedication to learning and education is unparalleled,” President Obama said in a news release. “Her understanding of the pivotal role that emerging technologies play in libraries will be essential in leading the Library of Congress as it continues to modernize its infrastructure and promote open access and full participation in today's digital world.”
Hayden will continue her position at the library until the Senate confirms her appointment. The library system will then undergo a national search for her replacement, the release said, and promises that no services will be affected.
Hayden arrived at the Pratt Library in July 1993, when it needed help with its aging buildings, budgets, and outreach to the city’s diverse communities. During her tenure, she updated technology, added a new annex and began a $112 million renovation at the Central Library, renovated 10 branches, and started programs that included an after-school center for teens that offered homework assistant and college and career counseling, a virtual supermarket that provides healthy alternatives to Baltimore food deserts.
In the White House video, Hayden said, “Making those libraries vital to communities will always be something that I will look back on and say, ‘We did that.’”