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Senate Chooses Carla Hayden as Librarian of Congress

Carla D. Hayden, who serves as chief executive of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, was sworn in by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday to serve as the 14th Librarian of Congress. Hayden, 63, is the first woman and first African American to hold this position, according to the Washington Post.

Lawmakers approved Hayden’s nomination in a 74 to 18 vote. She succeeds Russian scholar and author, James H. Billington, who retired last September after 28 years.

Hayden will be facilitating a $620 million budget and overseeing 3200 employees. “She’s proven herself to be a skilled manager of large complex projects. She moved the Enoch Pratt into the digital age. Our nation will be well served by her confirmation,” said Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

Hayden’s path to Congress wasn’t an easy one. Before the Senate Rules Committee recommended her to the full Senate, conservative lawmakers voiced their apprehension about positions she held 13 years ago while serving as president of the American Library Association.

Her work trumps any doubt. After earning her doctorate from the University of Chicago, she served as chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library. The Florida native also served on the National Museum and Library Sciences Board for 16 years.

She was also praised for coming to the aid of protestors by keeping Baltimore libraries open during protests that happened in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray. On top of overseeing Enoch Pratt’s first new branch opening in 35 years, she’s also credited for upgrading its technology and adding efficient career and counseling programs.

Hayden expressed her gratitude to the Enoch Pratt staff, but is looking forward to working with her next staff. “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,” she said.

The Library of Congress is looking for a fresh new start after facing a year of unpleasant obstacles. A federal agency released a critical report analyzing the organization’s inadequacies. Several cases of mismanagement that cost tax payers millions of dollars threatened the ability of the U.S. Copyright Office to properly function, the Post said.