President Obama has announced his choice to be Librarian of Congress. If confirmed, Dr. Carla Hayden would be the first African-American and first female to hold the position.
The position was established in 1802, but there have only been thirteen Librarians. Previously, Librarians served for life, similarly to Supreme Court justices. However, Congress passed legislation in 2015 that set the term to ten years at which point they can be renominated.
The previous Librarian, James Billington, held the office for 28 years, more than double his predecessor. David Mao has served as Acting Librarian since Billington’s retirement.
The Library of Congress oversees the United States Copyright Office and, as a result, has an active role in the United States’s technology policy. Hayden would be the first Librarian confirmed since the mainstream Internet was developed. Billington refused to use email, preferring to fax colleagues.
Hayden currently works at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. During the riots in the city, she won praise for keeping the library open, even as the CVS across the street was looted. Hayden would somewhat of a rarity as Librarian of Congress for having actually worked as a librarian. Many previous Librarians worked in different fields before their appointment. “Michelle and I have known Dr. Carla Hayden for a long time, since her days working at the Chicago Public Library, and I am proud to nominate her to lead our nation’s oldest federal institution as our 14th Librarian of Congress,” President Obama said in a statement.