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Meet Carla Hayden, Who Could Become the First African-American Librarian of Congress

For 213 years, the position has been held only by white men.

The current acting Librarian of Congress, David Mao, is an Asian-American. But for the preceding 213 years, the position of Librarian of Congress has been held only by white men. Fortunately, that could change soon: On Wednesday, President Obama announced his nomination of Carla Hayden to be the 14th Librarian of Congress. If confirmed, she would be the first woman and the first African American to hold the position.


In a statement from the White House, President Obama detailed the reasons for his nomination:

“Michelle and I have known Dr. Carla Hayden for a long time, since her days working at the Chicago Public Library, and I am proud to nominate her to lead our nation’s oldest federal institution as our 14th Librarian of Congress. 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. If confirmed, Dr. Hayden would be the first woman and the first African American to hold the position—both of which are long overdue.”

If approved by the Senate, Hayden would hold the position for 10 years. Some of her duties would include monitoring copyrights, appointing staff, and overseeing administrative work for the nation’s oldest and world’s largest library.

Hayden’s impressive résumé suggests that the Library of Congress would be in good hands. In 1995, she became the first African American to receive Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award. The journal cited her outreach work at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, where she has worked as CEO since 1993.

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