Black Experience

Carla Hayden Sworn In as 1st Black, Woman Librarian of Congress

A pivotal moment in history occurred Wednesday as Carla Hayden was sworn in as the head of the Library of Congress — the first African-American and woman to ever assume the role.

Hundreds of people gathered to witness the ceremony at the library’s Thomas Jefferson Building in southeast Washington, as Hayden became just the 14th person to hold the position since the Library of Congress’s inception in 1880.

Shortly after the ceremony, Hayden, who was appointed by President Obama, took to social media, declaring her sincerest admiration and gratefulness.

“I can’t wait to work with all of you to seize this moment. Let’s #makehistory at the Library of Congress together,” she tweeted from the Library of Congress account.

she tweeted from the Library of Congress account.

A longtime CEO of Baltimore’s public Enoch Pratt Free Library system and a former president of the American Library Association, Hayden is only the third professional librarian to head the Library of Congress — a position she has proved herself more than worthy of having, the library said.

“Hayden was celebrated for her outreach to help people from all walks of life get access to library materials and technology,” the library said in a statement. “That included homework help and college counseling for teens, healthy-eating information for residents of areas lacking access to high-quality food, Spanish-language programming and more.”

Hayden was also lauded for keeping a library branch open amid the unrest in Baltimore following the Freddie Gray funeral — directly across the street from a CVS store that was looted and burned.

Her term is expected to run over the next decade, in concordance with Obama’s recent law limiting the once-lifetime appointment to a 10-year term.

Hayden’s predecessor, James Billington, held the position for 28 years, but was reportedly scrutinized for his inability to keep up with the changes in technology.

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Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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