Wednesday, September 14, 2016

‘Rock star’ Baltimore librarian makes history at Library of Congress

From the Washington Post
The usually quiet atrium of the Enoch Pratt Free Library came alive with laughter and cheers last month as hundreds gathered to say goodbye to a Baltimore official known to many as “Doc.”

It was an astonishing display of affection for the Pratt’s departing leader, Carla D. Hayden, who is being sworn in Wednesday as the new head of the Library of Congress. Many dismiss urban libraries as outdated and irrelevant, yet Baltimore residents and civic leaders were celebrating the Pratt and Hayden, who captained its resurgence.

“She’s like a rock star,” said Maureen O’Neill, a librarian at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, a city high school. “To see a librarian exalted and appreciated is very touching.”

City residents and Pratt employees gathered alongside current and former trustees of the Pratt, city officials and members of Maryland’s congressional delegation to wish Hayden well. She seemed to know them all by name.

“As my grandmother said, ‘It’s mutual between us,’ ” Hayden said later. “It’s a city that really grabs you. They’re just good people.”

After 23 years as Pratt’s chief executive, Hayden, 64, will make history today as she becomes the first woman and the first African American to run the nation’s library. Founded in 1800, the library is the largest in the world, with 162 million items in its collection. It also provides research and legal advice for members of Congress and oversees the U.S. Copyright Office.

Hayden succeeds James H. Billington, a Reagan appointee who retired last year.

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