BALTIMORE (WJZ)– From Baltimore to the history books, Dr. Carla Hayden is sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress.
Earlier this year, Hayden was appointed by President Obama while head of the Enoch Pratt library here in Baltimore.
“People of my race were once punished with lashes and worse for learning to read. And as a decedent of people who were denied the right to read, to now have the opportunity to serve and lead the institution that is the national symbol of knowledge, is a historic moment,” said Hayden.
Dr. Hayden is the first female and the first African American to hold the post. She most recently was the director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore since 1993.
Hayden is celebrated for her innovation during her tenure. U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski called Hayden an inspirational and transformational leader.
“When Valerie Jarrett called me and said, ‘the president is thinking about nominating Carla Hayden to be the next head of the library of congress, what do you think?’ I said, ‘wow that’s like bringing Cal Ripken back to the Orioles. This is fantastic,” said Mikulski.
While head of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Dr. Hayden’s decision to keep the library open during the unrest of April 2014 has been highly celebrated. The CVS was burning, but across the lights inside the library were burning, ready for the doors to open the next day.
“Cars were still smoldering in the streets. Closed signs were hanging in store fronts for blocks, but people were lined up outside the doors of the library,” said Hayden.
“You walked in that library, during that time of trouble and tension, there were kids reading, there were kids studying, there were people on the computers trying to find a job and trying to link in with what a possibility could be; she kept it open,” said Milkulski.
It’s that forward thinking and actions, many say makes Dr. Hayden the perfect fit for this position and leading the library of congress into the future.
“I cannot wait to work with all of you to seize this moment in history. So let’s make history at the library of congress together. Thank you,” said Hayden.
Dr. Hayden thanked her mother, who held the bible as she was sworn in Wednesday. She says he mother introduced her to reading, music and public service, which this new chapter in her life brings all those passions together.
Before coming to Baltimore, Dr. Hayden worked as the deputy commissioner and chief librarian for the Chicago Public Library.
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