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It is moderately unusual for a librarian to be a household name. (Hard to admit, but true.) However, this week, Dr. Carla Hayden made history by being confirmed as the first African American and first female Librarian of Congress. Interestingly, Dr. Hayden is also only the third (out of fourteen) librarians of Congress to be an actual librarian.

Dr. Hayden was most recently the director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland.

In an interview with PBS, Dr. Hayden reflected on the significance of her confirmation.

JEFFREY BROWN: You are the first woman to have this job, the first African-American to have this job. Do these things matter, and, if so, how, especially at the Library of Congress, heading it?
CARLA HAYDEN: I’m really smiling because of Mr. Melvil Dewey, who so many people know as the pioneer in librarianship.
And in about 1876, he decided that it might be good to have women join the profession, because, as he said — and I love this quote — “They can endure pain with fortitude, and they can perform monotonous tasks with patience.”
CARLA HAYDEN: But, more seriously, though, being the first African-American really resonates, because, for so many years during slavery, slaves were forbidden to learn how to read, and some of the laws back then, amputating fingers, 40 lashes and more, just to learn to read.
So, to have an African-American head up the largest institution that signifies knowledge and information resonates with me quite a bit.
Dr. Hayden is a vocal advocate for privacy and intellectual freedom and is expected to lead the modernization and digitization of many of the Library of Congress's systems and resources. She will be the first Librarian of Congress to serve a ten year, rather than a lifetime, term, and will be eligible for reappointment by the sitting President.