- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 02 March 2016
- Written by KATHARINE DIX | STAFF WRITER
President Obama has made a nomination for a lifetime government position— not for a Supreme Court Justice— but for the Librarian of Congress. The New York Times reported that President Obama nominated Dr. Carla Hayden on Feb. 24. According to Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times, not only would she be the fourteenth person in America’s history to hold the position, but also the first woman and African American to be the Librarian of Congress.
The White House has released President Obama’s 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,” he said
“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.”
Dr. Hayden still needs to go through the confirmation process, but President Obama said, “If confirmed, Dr. Hayden would be the first woman and the first African American to hold the position – both of which are long overdue.”
The library has been in great need of new leadership. Fandos of The New York Times added that the Library of Congress has not had a permanent leader since September; and still will not until Congress approves of President Obama’s nomination.
If Dr. Hayden becomes the official Librarian of Congress, the country can expect advances in the technology of the national library. Fandos emphasized how the library is behind in the digital age, and Dr. Hayden has dedicated her career to modernizing libraries. Monmouth University sophomore education student Mary Fitzgerald said, “I think this is what our country needs. It’s really great we’re taking steps toward the future.”
The University specialist librarian Susan Bucks is also in support of President Obama’s nomination. She said, “I think Dr. Carla Hayden is a great choice for Librarian of Congress. As a librarian, I think it is wonderful that an experienced, professional librarian has been nominated. The Library of Congress not only supports the activities of Congress, and is a repository for the nation’s cultural output, but it also plays an important role in influencing public perceptions of libraries.”
She added, “With her public library experience, Dr. Hayden appears to have a deep understanding of the importance of libraries to all citizens. She seems especially aware of the essential role technology plays in how we access information. I think it is great that an African American woman has been nominated. Women still constitute more than 80 percent of the profession. Furthermore, I think African Americans are particularly underrepresented in our government’s leadership positions.”
The responsibilities of being the Librarian of Congress are more complex than one may think. Lilli Peterson of Refinery29.com described the duties Dr. Hayden would have if her nomination is approved. She would manage a staff of 31,000, manage a budget of $600 million, and watch over the collection of 160 million items. Fortunately, Dr. Hayden has an extensive history of modernizing the libraries in cities such as Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Baltimore.
It is uncertain whether the Republican-dominated congress will approve President Obama’s nomination. The process of the Librarian of Congress nomination being approved is very much unknown, and political science professor
Dr. Steven Chapman, Assistant Professor of Political Science, explained the process. He said, “The Library of Congress position, while less attention-getting than other presidential nominations —especially in light of waiting for Obama to name of a Supreme Court nominee—still carries with it important duties. Probably most relevant to students is the librarian of Congress’ power over Copyrighting and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which protects against pirating media on the internet.”
He added, “Carla Hayden will go through the same Senate-confirmation process as any other nomination the president makes. I do not expect to see as much pushback from Senate Republicans on Hayden as there will be with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) nominee.”
He concluded, “Hayden’s confirmation would not only be historic, as she would be the first female and African-American nominee to hold the position, but she also carries with her an impressive resume. She holds a Ph.D. in library science and has held numerous positions of prestige over her career.”
PHOTO TAKEN from NEH.gov