On Wednesday, July 13, the United States Senate confirmed the appointment of Dr. Carla D. Hayden as the 14th Librarian of Congress. The Librarian of Congress position has overall administration and management responsibility over the Library of Congress – the largest library in the world – and its multitude of programs, public and research services, archival manuscripts and exhibits, and various library materials in a collection that spans more than one million items. Established in 1800, the Library of Congress has the unique status of being the national library, so the Librarian of Congress role is considered an esteemed and highly-responsible position. President Barack Obama had nominated Hayden for the appointment.
The appointment made history on both gender and racial fronts, as Dr. Hayden is both the first woman to be appointed Librarian of Congress as well as the first African-American to be appointed to that position. Since 1993, Dr. Hayden has been the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her MA and PhD degrees in library and information science from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts from Roosevelt University.
At her confirmation hearing, Dr. Hayden testified about various functions and policy ideas for the Library of Congress and its various projects and areas of responsibility, such as housing the U.S. Copyright Office. A video and searchable transcript of Dr. Hayden’s confirmation hearing can be found on C-SPAN.
Dr. Hayden’s entry marks the first ten-year term for the Librarian of Congress position. Formerly a lifetime appointment, President Barack Obama enacted a ten-year tenure for the Librarian of Congress position in 2015, with an option for reappointment after completion of the ten-year term. Dr. Hayden will take over the role currently maintained by Acting Librarian of Congress David Mao, who entered the position in October 2015 when former Librarian of Congress James Billington retired. Before his interim role as Acting Librarian of Congress, Mao previously served as the Deputy Librarian of Congress and, before that, as the Law Librarian of Congress.