WASHINGTON —The U.S. Senate has confirmed Enoch Pratt Free Library CEO Carla Hayden as the first woman and first African-American librarian of Congress.
President Barack Obama nominated Hayden in February, but the full Senate delayed taking a vote. The president called Hayden’s milestones on gender and race “long overdue.”
Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski took to the Senate floor Wednesday to urge senators to confirm Hayden. The vote was 74-18.
Read the senators’ letter to the president in support of Hayden’s nomination (PDF)
“This is truly a great honor to be nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to lead the nation’s library, the Library of Congress,” Hayden said in a statement. “It has been my privilege to serve the citizens of Baltimore for 23 years and help restore the Enoch Pratt Free Library as a world-renowned institution. I want to thank the Pratt Library’s Board of Directors and Trustees, donors, and most importantly, the patrons, for their trust and support. I look forward to working with the dedicated staff of the Library of Congress. 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 has been the head of Baltimore’s library system since 1993.
Mikulski released a statement, saying, “Our nation and its library will be well served with Dr. Carla Hayden as the next Librarian of Congress. For more than 20 years, Dr. Hayden has proven herself as the Director of the Enoch Pratt Libraries. She is a skilled manager of large, complex projects, handling large budgets while avoiding techno-boondoggles and producing tangible results. From moving the Enoch Pratt into the digital age to managing rare collections, Dr. Hayden has shown she understands the transformative nature of what a library is. With Dr. Hayden at the helm, America’s library will have an extremely qualified leader.”
Cardin released a statement, saying, “I congratulate Dr. Hayden on her nomination as the 14th Librarian on Congress. Dr. Hayden’s impressive career and diligent service to the people of Baltimore as CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library have prepared her well to serve as the guardian and curator of the world’s greatest library. Dr. Hayden has been a cultural treasure to our city and a long-time, passionate defender of America’s libraries, ensuring access for all through her work to protect the free flow of information, civil rights and privacy protections. In the case of Dr. Hayden’s historic confirmation, Baltimore’s loss is America’s gain.”
In a statement released after the vote, Rep. Elijah Cummings said, “History was made today with Dr. Carla Hayden’s unprecedented confirmation to lead the Library of Congress. As the Chief Executive Officer of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Dr. Hayden transformed an aging system into a world class institution of information and technology. Her broad, bipartisan support in the Senate is a testament to her unquestionable qualifications. Like she did with the Pratt Library, I am sure Dr. Hayden will uphold the rich traditions of the Library of Congress while bringing innovation and creating leadership to a national treasure.”
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake released a statement, saying, “Dr. Carla Hayden is an American treasure; her foresight, institutional knowledge, and compassion for communities is what distinguishes the leadership that she will demonstrate as Librarian of Congress. The citizens of Baltimore couldn’t be more proud of her and the confirmation of her appointment. Though we will certainly miss her presence, we know that in her new capacity, she will continue to support our city and drive the type of impact that transformed our Enoch Pratt Library System into a world-class center of innovation. The fact that she is the first African-American and the first woman to be selected as the librarian of Congress, also sets a precedent to future leaders that with excellence as your guide, success is inevitable, and that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”
Obama signed a law last year establishing a 10-year term for the librarian of Congress with an option for reappointment. The position was previously considered a lifetime appointment.