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Committee Approves Librarian of Congress Nominee

Carla Hayden would be the first woman and African-American to lead Library

Carla D. Hayden, President Barack Obama's nominee to the Library of Congress, at a Senate hearing in April. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Carla D. Hayden, President Barack Obama's nominee to the Library of Congress, at a Senate hearing in April. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Carla D. Hayden is one step closer to becoming the first African-American and woman to head the Library of Congress.  

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee approved Hayden’s nomination by voice vote Thursday. Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri said he expects her nomination to move to the floor this month.

“The nominee, in my opinion, will bring a wealth of experience to the position,” Blunt said at the committee meeting.


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Hayden, 63, currently heads the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, a position she has held since 1993.  

“She is just an incredible person to lead the Library of Congress,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said Thursday. Cardin and his fellow Maryland Democrat, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, had encouraged President Barack Obama to consider Hayden for the post.  

“We’re very proud of what she’s done in Baltimore,” Cardin said. “A person with incredible credentials, credibility and energy, and I look forward to her leadership.”  

Obama nominated Hayden in February  to lead the 216-year-old institution. Her approval Thursday cleared a backlog of civilian nominations before the committee.  

Obama said in a statement at the time that he and first lady Michelle Obama knew Hayden from her time at the Chicago Public Library, where she worked from 1973 to 1981, and again from 1991 to 1993.  


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She would be the first African American and the first woman in the position, and the first to have a limited term .  

Hayden would fill the vacancy left by former Librarian James H. Billington, who retired in January after a 29-year tenure in which he came under fire for a host of technology failures.  

At a hearing in April, Hayden impressed senators  with her experience. Colleagues commended her work during riots that consumed Baltimore last year after the death of Freddie Gray when she kept the Enoch library open — and stayed there for several days.  


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At that hearing, members questioned her stance on a variety of issues plaguing the library, including how to make its voluminous materials available digitally and whether the copyright division ought to be spun out of the agency.    

She said one of her top priorities would be helping to make the library more modern and accessible.    

Hayden said she wanted to make the library accessible to everyone, particularly those in rural parts of the country. She also touted traveling exhibits as a way for the library’s collection to reach those far from Washington.    

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.
Contact Rahman at and follow her on Twitter at @remawriter

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