President Obama’s nominee to be the next Librarian of Congress would not only be the first woman and first African-American to hold the position, but her confirmation would also send a signal about the importance of public arts institutions even in difficult circumstances.
Dr. Carla D. Hayden, is currently CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD, an institution that played a supporting role during the police brutality protests -– and occasionally violent riots -- that consumed the city last year.
Hayden refused to shutter the library’s doors during even the most intense riots, one of which ended with the CVS across the street being set on fire.
“The library has been the community’s anchor. It’s the heart of the community at good times and bad times,” Hayden said during an interview with American Libraries in May 2015. “If we close, we’re sending a signal that we’re afraid or that we aren’t going to be available when times are tough. We should be open especially when times are tough.”
In a statement, President Obama said the confirmation of a librarian with Hayden’s background was “long overdue.” He added that he and his wife, Michelle, have known Hayden since she worked at the Chicago Public Library in the 1970’s.
“This is truly a great honor to be nominated by President Obama to lead the nation’s library, the Library of Congress,” Hayden said in a statement released by the Pratt Library.