Carla Hayden is Our Nation’s First Black Female Librarian of Congress

By Sameer Rao Jul 14, 2016

Dr. Carla D. Hayden made history yesterday (July 13) when the Senate confirmed her as the 14th Librarian of Congress. Hayden is both the first woman and the first African American to head the institution in its entire 216-year history.

Hayden comes to the Library of Congress from her position as the CEO of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library system. According to The Washington Post, Hayden received praise for keeping the city’s libraries open through the uprising following Freddie Gray‘s death after his time in police custody last year. She also oversaw rennovations and upgrades to the system, including updating technology systems and introducing college and career counseling programs. 

"I will be honored to build on the legacy and accomplishments of my predecessors in this position, to be part of a continuing movement to open the treasure chest that is the Library of Congress even further, and to make it a place that can be found and used by everyone," Hayden said in a statement cited by the Post. 

Hayden’s confirmation faced opposition from senators who criticized her leadership of the American Library Association (ALA) 13 years ago. She and the ALA opposed aspects of the Patriot Act that they said violated library users’ privacy rights, as well as laws that required libraries to install pornography-blocking Internet filters. Hayden explained during an April hearing with the Senate Rules Committee that her opposition stemmed from technological deficits that, had filters been installed, would have prevented users from accessing health information.

The Library of Congress, which functions as Congress’ research wing and operates the official Copyright Office registry, faces criticism for outdated technology and management issues that the Post says "cost taxpayers millions of dollars." Click here to watch the White House video released when Hayden was nominated for the post back in February.