Obama nominates new librarian of Congress

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The White House has nominated Baltimore library Director Carla Hayden to become the new Librarian of Congress. (The White House)

President Barack Obama has nominated a Baltimore library Director Carla Hayden, whose work there helped strongly improve digital services, to become the new Librarian of Congress.

Hayden, the CEO of Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, will be the first woman and African American to hold the position if Senate accepts the nomination, according to Obama’s statement released Wednesday. She would become the 14th librarian, succeeding James Billington, who retired last year.

“As Librarian of Congress, she’ll work in close partnership with Congress, support the copyright office that serves our nation’s creative communities, and explore new ways to share the information housed within our library through innovative technologies,” according to Obama’s statement.

At the library, Hayden will oversee about 3,000 staff members and a nearly $720 million proposed 2017 fiscal year budget to run the largest collection of books, recordings and historic documents in the world.

Hayden’s recent work at Enoch Pratt focused on improving technology within the library’s systems, including a long-term, $114 million renovation to improve their broadband services and even create a room dedicated to robotic experiments, according to the Baltimore Sun. Under her leadership, the library also became the largest public computer provider in Maryland, Obama’s statement said.

Enoch Pratt also received national attention when it stayed opened despite a citywide closure during last summer’s Baltimore riots caused by the death of Freddie Gray.

[Read more: Library of Congress, Copyright Office butt heads over IT vision]

Under Billington, who stepped down in 2015, the Library of Congress received a measure of criticism from the government for resisting digitization and poor management, according to the New York Times. Yet  Hayden has already received support from both government and the tech industry, like Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman.

“Specifically, her past work updating library systems for the digital age are exactly the skills needed to modernize the digital infrastructure at the Library of Congress,” he said in a statement.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., also shared his support.

“Dr. Hayden has enriched countless lives in Maryland and across the country by fighting for equal access to information for all, especially for young mind,” he said. “I am confident that she will be a strong steward of the Library of Congress and serve the American people as well as she’s served her community in Baltimore.”

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Congress, Copyright Office, Government IT News, Library of Congress
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