The Senate Rules Committee on Thursday voted to recommend that the full Senate approve President Obama's nomination of Carla Hayden to serve as the nation’s 14th Librarian of Congress. A highly respected and accomplished librarian, Hayden, who served as president of ALA from 2003 to 2004, would be the first woman and the first African American Librarian of Congress. She will also be the first professional librarian to hold the post in over 60 years. The question now is: when will the full Senate schedule a vote?
Hayden, currently CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, would replace associate director David Mao, who is serving as the the library’s interim director following the January, 2016 retirement of James Billington, a Reagan appointee who took the post in 1987. To be confirmed, Hayden needs only a simple majority of Senators to vote for her appointment. A vote in the full Senate has yet to be scheduled, but ALA officials said they are hopeful it will happen soon, and prior to the Senate’s summer recess in mid-July.
In a statement, ALA president Sari Feldman said the Senate vote to move on Hayden's nomination was historic. "Once confirmed, [Hayden] will be the perfect librarian to pilot the Library of Congress fully into the 21st century," Feldman said, "transforming it again into the social and cultural engine of progress and democracy for all Americans that it was meant to be."
Hayden's nomination has garnered wide support. In a PW column last month, Brian Kenney, director of the White Plains Public Library, argued that Hayden was the perfect choice for the job, and that her confirmation would be a big win for librarians.
"Hayden’s nomination makes clear what should be obvious but is too often questioned: that librarians can lead the organizations they’ve created, and served in," Kenney wrote. "If the president of the United States can find a librarian to run the largest and most complex library in the world, then your local library board can do the same when it comes time to hire its leaders."