WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today introduced Dr. Carla Hayden, President Obama’s nominee to serve as the next Librarian of Congress, before the Senate Rules Committee. Dr. Hayden currently serves as the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. As CEO of Enoch Pratt, Dr. Hayden increased community outreach by founding a program to assist local students with homework and college preparation. Dr. Hayden also made the decision to keep all branches of the library system open as safe havens for the community during the civic unrest that followed the tragic death of Freddie Gray exactly one year ago this week. Prior to entering her current position, Dr. Hayden served as the President of the American Library Association (ALA) from 2003 to 2004.
“For more than two decades, Dr. Carla Hayden has overseen one of the crown jewels of Baltimore, the Enoch Pratt Free Library. She is a cultural treasure to our city and a long-time defender of the free flow of information, civil rights and privacy protections,” said Senator Cardin. “I was proud to recommend her to President Obama for a groundbreaking nomination to become our nation’s top librarian.”
Earlier in the month, Senator Cardin met with Dr. Hayden in his Washington office (photos are available for download).
Senator Cardin’s remarks as prepared for delivery appear below:
Chairman Blunt, Senator Schumer, Members of the Committee: thank you for this opportunity to introduce Dr. Carla Hayden, President Obama’s nominee to be the 14th Librarian of Congress.
Today’s hearing is well-timed: this Sunday marks the 216th anniversary of the creation of the Library in 1800.
For the last 23 years, Dr. Hayden has directed the Enoch Pratt Free Library, which isn’t quite as old as the Library of Congress, but dates to 1882, making it one of the oldest free public library systems in the United States.
Dr. Hayden got off to a flying start: in 1994, Maryland was the first State in the Nation to offer statewide Internet service to its residents with the introduction of SAILOR, Maryland’s Online Public Information Network. The SAILOR Operations Center is housed in the Pratt Central Library/State Library Resource Center.
So Dr. Hayden doesn’t just run the public library system for Baltimore City; she oversees the State Library Resource Center, which provides all Marylanders with access to the Internet and other resources.
During Dr. Hayden’s tenure, eight of Enoch Pratt’s branches either opened or were re-opened after being renovated.
It’s no surprise, then, that Dr. Hayden was named Library Journal‘s Librarian of the Year in 1995 and was elected to serve as President of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004.
Before Dr. Hayden moved to Baltimore, she was an Assistant Professor for Library & Information Science at my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, from 1987 to 1991 – further evidence of her excellent judgement!
In addition to being superbly qualified, Dr. Hayden will make history as the first African American and the first female to be Librarian of Congress, bringing a fresh new perspective to the job and its challenges.
In 1972, former Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish wrote, “What is more important in a library than anything else – than everything else – is the fact that it exists”. This is true with respect to each and every branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, and it is especially true with respect to the Library of Congress, a cultural institution unique in the world.
Dr. Hayden gets this, and she understands and appreciates the special history, role, and potential of the Library of Congress.
The Senate has been described as the “world’s most exclusive club”. Well, there have been 1,963 of us. But only 13 people have served as Librarian of Congress. I have no doubt that Dr. Hayden will distinguish herself as the 14th and I urge the Committee to report the nomination favorably and quickly so that the full Senate may confirm her and she can get to work!
Baltimore’s loss will be the Nation’s gain.