Carla Hayden to be sworn in as librarian of Congress

Carla Hayden swearing

Hayden, a former Chicago children's librarian, is the first woman and African American to serve in the role.

With one hand on the Bible that once belonged to Abraham Lincoln and now resides in the Library of Congress, Carla Hayden took an oath to become the 14th Librarian of Congress on Wednesday.

Hayden was the head of Baltimore's library system since 1993 until she resigned earlier this year, after her nomination.

Carla Hayden will be sworn in Wednesday as the 14th librarian of Congress.

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"When I contemplate the potential of harnessing the power of technology with the unparalleled resources at the Library of Congress, I am overwhelmed with the possibilities", she said.

Hayden will oversee the world's largest library, which holds every book ever printed in the U.S., and the U.S. Copyright Office.

"The Library is one of the greatest gifts and legacies the Congress has given to the American people", Hayden said. "And a natural step for this nation's library, a place where you can touch history and imagine your future".

Carla Hayden swearing
Carla Hayden Library of Congress

On the night in April 2015 that Baltimore went up in flames, Carla Hayden, the city's chief librarian, was under pressure to board up a neighborhood library branch and wait out the violence triggered by the death in a police van of Freddie Gray. It serves Congress and makes its research collections accessible on-site and online.

Among her goals is to move aggressively to digitize precious material in the library's collection of 162 million items, the largest in the world, and she said she plans to seek corporate sponsorships and philanthropic contributions to aid those efforts.

Early reviews are good, particularly in comparison to Hayden's predecessor, James Billington, a Russian Federation scholar who, after almost 30 years in the job, resigned amid criticism in 2015.

Although he was well-liked on Capitol Hill, Billington was criticized for failing to keep up with advances in technology in a series of increasingly scathing reports from the Government Accountability Office. She also taught Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh.

More than a decade before that decision, she made waves by criticizing the Patriot Act while president of the American Library Association in 2003 and 2004, in particular Section 215, which gave the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation power to access library records.

Hayden takes over at a key time for the library.

In 2003 and 2004, while serving as president of the American Library Association, she clashed frequently with Attorney General John Ashcroft over what she perceived as privacy overreaches in the USA Patriot Act.

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