On Monday, April 24, the Morrison Library was graced by the presence of Dr. Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress. The Library also hosted a reception for Dr. Hayden to meet interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ and other campus leaders.
Along with being the first female Librarian of Congress, and the first African-American, Dr. Hayden is only the third person to come to the job from the public library system. A self-identified “accidental librarian,” her first library job was filing cards in a card catalog in a storefront branch of the Chicago public library.
Dr. Hayden’s focus as Librarian of Congress is increasing accessibility to the Library of Congress’ vast collection of unique items, which includes the world’s largest collection of sheet music, one of the largest photography collections, and many presidential papers and historic documents, including an annotated draft of the Declaration of Independence. Dr. Hayden’s use of the term accessibility is far from abstract; in her remarks, she described how during the recent unrest in Baltimore, where she was the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library from 1993 to 2016, she wished she could have provided children with access to the papers of Rosa Parks in order to help them understand the history behind the events that surrounded them.
When asked what young university graduates can do to help with the mission of increasing access to library materials, Dr. Hayden talked about meeting a young homeless woman on a recent visit to a teen mix center at San Francisco Public Library. The library provides less privileged people with a place to gather and also gives them a voice, she said. Graduating students have “so much to give and to show other young people coming up,” and should reach “ . . . not back, but pull somebody else with you.”
Watch the video: