Dr. Carla Hayden could be the #nextLOC
February 24, 2016 11:02 AM   Subscribe

President Obama announces his intent to nominate Dr. Carla Hayden as the next Librarian of Congress. Dr. Hayden would be the first-ever professional librarian in the position. She is currently CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, served as President of the American Library Association from 2003-2004, and she was the first African-American to receive the Library Journal's Librarian of the Year Award. She began her career with the Chicago Public Library in 1973.

The White House also distributed this video interview publicly through Facebook earlier today.

Background and previouslys:
posted by aabbbiee (52 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
 
shouldnt the amarican people have a say in whose the librarian of congress

(Seriously, from what I know, she'd be a great choice.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:05 AM on February 24, 2016 [16 favorites]


I should have known MeFis would be all over this.
posted by suelac at 11:11 AM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


shouldnt the amarican people have a say in whose the librarian of congress

That, and, this should wait until after the election, for the next President to deal with.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:13 AM on February 24, 2016 [21 favorites]


I should have known MeFis would be all over this.

I was surprised it took so long! Worth the wait, though, for a well-constructed post. I am certainly encouraged by what I've read and by the enthusiasm of my library friends.
posted by Miko at 11:14 AM on February 24, 2016


My first thought when reading this on the front page: "jessamyn must be so pleased!"

I wasn't aware the WH consulted her, that's awesome.
posted by mokin at 11:14 AM on February 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


... the next Librarian of Congress. Dr. Hayden would be the first-ever professional librarian in the position.

Wait, what?

the job is a lifetime position and is often given to late-career historians

Ok, that's a little better.
posted by Melismata at 11:16 AM on February 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


The FPP notes that the Obama administration changed the lifetime appointment to a term-limit late last year.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:19 AM on February 24, 2016


This is sad news for Baltimore, but if you want to get a sense of her, you can't go wrong reading the Baltimore Sun's archives. She's basically a badass, sparred with E-rate and the Patriot Act and in general seems awesome.

That said, I don't think we know how she'll deal with fair use and copyright issues at the LoC.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:20 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


PS- It's not clear if she ever said this or if Ms. Magazine merely said it about her when they called her one of the Women of the Year in 2003, but this quote basically captures the excitement:

"Librarians are more freedom fighters than shushers."
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:21 AM on February 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


I forgot to include the Librarian of Progress site in the post. Oops.

As Jessamyn noted in the Facebook #nextLOC group, the next step is for people to contact their Senators to urge them to confirm Dr. Hayden's nomination.
posted by aabbbiee at 11:22 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


What is the litmus test question for LOC?
posted by nubs at 11:25 AM on February 24, 2016


There's never been a professional librarian in this position before? That is astounding. Glad the time has come.
posted by grouse at 11:26 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


we're in the process of naming a new conference room in my office (we typically name them after scholarly folks or thought pioneers in some way, and usually tend towards women) and i just suggested her and it's got a ton of votes already

to be fair i work with a lot of women and a lot of librarians so we're pretty stoked
posted by burgerrr at 11:26 AM on February 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


My only complaint about this is that apparently tweeting at Obama that you "Would make GREAT Librarian of Congress!! Pick Me!!" is an insufficient job application.
#jealous

That said, this is long overdue.
posted by teleri025 at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's never been a professional librarian in this position before?

Just not since 1974 and most of the appointees have been non-librarians.

And yes, I am over the moon at this news. I found out because I saw it on facebook and it's been a huge day of online librarian high-fiving. One of the people on the White House personnel committee who I spoke with over the summer (and again when I was in DC just a few weeks ago) called me today just to make sure I'd seen the news.

And getting to contact Bernie Sanders and tell him to please approve Carla Hayden's nomination? I am ded.
posted by jessamyn at 11:30 AM on February 24, 2016 [79 favorites]


Am I wrong, or is she also the first female Librarian of Congress? Wikipedia link.
posted by aabbbiee at 11:31 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


THANK YOU, JESSAMYN!!
posted by aabbbiee at 11:32 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Power of Big Librarian is not to be underestimated.

Seriously, this is awesome!
posted by Deoridhe at 11:44 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Personally, I like my libraries with liberal amounts of Enoch Pratt....

Thank you! I'll show myself out now....
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:44 AM on February 24, 2016


I had Carla as a visiting professor in my MLS. She is definitely committed to public libraries.
posted by codacorolla at 11:46 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


What is the litmus test question for LOC?

Assuming that the confirmation hearings don't just get tied up in spill-over from the obstructionism about the SCOTUS vacancy, some substantive areas for questions would include her views on the Copyright Office, technology plans (given Billington's distinct lack of leadership there), whether the LoC should become a de jure national library (and thus act as a tiebreaker for certain discussions within the library profession), and her past opposition to the PATRIOT Act and national security letters.

The Copyright Office matters because there's been a push to separate it from the LoC (presumably to make it friendlier to entrenched IP interests, which is why I hope it stays within the LoC). As far as library user privacy is concerned, the Librarian of Congress could certainly push back against some of the excesses of government surveillance, but of course has no power to directly stop it.

I'm quite happy that Obama's nominating her, though I hope that if she's confirmed that her first move will be to pick a good CIO.
posted by metaquarry at 11:46 AM on February 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


The CIO got appointed right before Billington left which I assume was some sort of favor appointment because the guy seems fine with procurement and computer-counting but not that visionary otherwise.

Senator Leahy says he's on board with approving her nomination. Have you guys bugged your Senators yet?

But yeah the big open question about Hayden is mostly copyright stuff. People know where she stands on library values and managing big diverse organizations.
posted by jessamyn at 12:23 PM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Do you know if the CIO serves at the pleasure of the sitting Librarian of Congress? Not that somebody who is better at managing the LoC's own infrastructure isn't a already a big improvement, but I'm hoping for a (right sort of) visionary — or at least somebody who recognizes that LoC is providing essential technical infrastructure to librarydom already and seeks to do better at it.
posted by metaquarry at 12:29 PM on February 24, 2016


The feeling I've gotten is that it's not like being president where you're expected to bring in all your own people. However this is sort of an unusual time in that the incoming LoC has a term limit and that's never happened before in the history of the office. But I don't think anyone else who works there needs to be looking for work, I assume the old CIO stays which is why it was one of Billington's last major acts in office before he left.
posted by jessamyn at 12:46 PM on February 24, 2016


something something Romney something something card catalogs full of women something something
posted by AJaffe at 1:01 PM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


The CIO position isn't a political appointment or confirmed by Congress. It went through the normal hiring process and since it's a senior-level position, a new Librarian would be able to use the normal process to replace them if they wanted. Speaking purely personally, I think it might make sense to have a CIO / CTO split or some other way of recognizing that there are both some relatively generic IT needs which any organization has and needs to be good at and some major areas which are increasingly at the core of what it means to be a national library.
But I don't think anyone else who works there needs to be looking for work, I assume the old CIO stays which is why it was one of Billington's last major acts in office before he left.
When someone leaves, they'll have an acting replacement until a permanent hire is made; whoever is in an acting capacity generally doesn't have a mandate to make big changes – their job is mostly to keep the ship moving. The GAO report was strong enough that major changes needed to happen, which is exactly the kind of thing which would have had to wait for a permanent hire.

Every name above me on the org chart except for my immediate supervisor changed over the last year and if you look at the current org chart you'll notice that all of the IT functions have been moved into the new Office of the Chief Operating Officer under the even newer CIO, and a fair number of similar changes happened throughout the organization.
posted by adamsc at 1:05 PM on February 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


Techdirt: So here's a pleasant surprise.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:33 PM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just moved to a new congressional district (a mile north of my old apartment) and I've already sent my very conservative congressperson 3 different grumpy emails to which a long suffering intern has made polite but noncommittal response. My hope is that a new Librarian of Congress will be less divisive than meaninglessly stupid anti-Planned Parenthood hearings, and that my Congressperson will see through partisan politics to confirm someone clearly awesome!
posted by ChuraChura at 1:35 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


As far as I know it is the Senate that confirms presidential appointees, except for vice presidents. Don't forget to contact your senators.
posted by Wretch729 at 2:57 PM on February 24, 2016


RIAA's reaction to the nomination:
It is worth noting that the Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office have been mutually respectful of each other’s areas of expertise. We would hope that the new Librarian would continue to demonstrate that respect for the Copyright Office’s expertise in copyright policy and recommendations to Congress.
What this carefully doesn't mention: the head of the Copyright Office reports to, and is appointed by, the Librarian of Congress. RIAA is therefore asking that the next Librarian of Congress not actually do part of her job: influencing rulemaking about copyright via her choice and oversight of the Register of Copyrights.
posted by metaquarry at 3:16 PM on February 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


And the MPAA weighs in [pdf] as well:
We look forward to learning more during the confirmation process about Dr. Hayden’s vision for leading the Library and honoring the role of copyright as a driver of knowledge and creativity, as well as an engine of our nation’s economic growth and positive trade balance.
posted by metaquarry at 3:20 PM on February 24, 2016


The MPAA's response sounds a lot more normal-dickish (since they are a corporate rightsish organization) the RIAA's sounds like a threat.
posted by jessamyn at 3:30 PM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]




I am not entirely sure that my current Senators even think there should be libraries, but I will send them an email. Can anyone suggest any talking points that would be convincing to horrible Republicans who probably want to privatize the LOC and sell off all the books to interior decorators?

(My dad's parents owned a bookstore, and one of their sidelines was selling remainders by the foot to interior decorators whose clients wanted book-filled bookshelves but didn't actually own any books. Ever since my father told me that, it's become some sort of touchstone for philistinism for me.)
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:32 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Can anyone suggest any talking points that would be convincing to horrible Republicans who probably want to privatize the LOC and sell off all the books to interior decorators?

Position them as an end-run around the Main Stream Media?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:49 PM on February 24, 2016


If anyone knows her, please ask her to make the CRS reports available to the public.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:41 PM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


And yes, I am over the moon at this news.

So was she on your short list when you talked to the WH? Or did her name come up?

Also, sorry you didn't get the gig. I really lobbied for you. :crazy-eye emoticon:
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:05 PM on February 24, 2016


She was one of my top three picks and I was worried she'd be "impractical" because she wasn't a fusty old white dude, so I am really pleased & hope she gets confirmed with no trouble.
posted by jessamyn at 8:29 PM on February 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


Can anyone suggest any talking points that would be convincing to horrible Republicans who probably want to privatize the LOC and sell off all the books to interior decorators?

It honestly doesn't matter. You don't need talking points. Your senator has staff members that read the emails and make cumulative reports that sound something like "85 emails say you should confirm, 59 say you should oppose." No argumentation needed. The important thing is that you just write in at all. You don't need to be a silver-tongued devil, you just need to register your opinion. It really is that simple, and it would shock you to realize how few emails it takes to sway a senator. Most people don't write at all. Exercise that power.
posted by Miko at 8:55 PM on February 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


So cool!

Quoting jessamyn, from her interview last summer with Steve Thomas (the medium link in the post):
[...] I think Carla Hayden would be maybe the best person I could think of for that position, she already lives up the street.
jessamyn, I was glad to see the news, and I credit your efforts and these MeFi posts for making me more aware of the importance of the next LOC.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 1:46 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


So... does this mean Metafilter really is the secret liberal conspiracy with its shadowy hands on the wheels of power?

Sweet. Can we have some membership cards printed?
posted by Devonian at 2:58 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


One of the many times when not having a Senator--at all--rankles.

Obama's new Librarian of Congress nominee is a rip-snortin', copyfightin', surveillance-hatin' no-foolin' LIBRARIAN

Is there any evidence that she is a copyfighter? I'm ambivalent on this: if she is a copyfighter, I worry that she'll get blocked, and even if she's not blocked, that she'll be hamstrung by the threat of cleaving the LoC from the CIO. But I still want the bad-assest copyleftist Librarian we can get under those constraints.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:21 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think boingboing definitely overstated the extent to which she is a copyfighter but she is NOT someone who is likely to get in bed with Big Copyright. The RIAA are being a bunch of whiny babies about this which i think says she is doing something right but I haven't really dug into her background yet (that is on the docket for today) to see what her bona fides are in that direction. I think someone who is a true copyfighter like Brewster from the Archive, is basically not someone who would be appointable for that position, however much I think he might kick ass in it.
posted by jessamyn at 7:38 AM on February 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just emailed my senator. Thanks for the heads-up!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:55 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have called my senators to ask them to confirm her! Even though they're both Democrats so that is probably already going to happen unless the copyright maximalists sway them against her! (Schumer's office asked for my ZIP; Gillibrand's didn't.)

An open sourcey tech person's 10 minutes of research:

Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive supports her nomination.

She was on the board of directors of something called PALINET that got folded into the Lyrasis library collective/nonprofit that provides tech services and resources to libraries, and is the organizational home for some open source projects. I can't easily tell when she was on the PALINET board, though, or for how long.

In early 2009 she wrote a piece praising One Laptop Per Child and asked: "Imagine the possibilities here at home in Baltimore?"

The year after Dr. Hayden began as Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, "Maryland was the first state in the U.S. to offer statewide Internet service to its residents with the introduction of SAILOR, Maryland's Online Public Information Network." From the SAILOR site: "Sailor is a project of Maryland’s public libraries that provides broadband Internet access for public libraries, schools and local government in Maryland, and an extensive collection of research databases for the use of Maryland public library customers." I wonder whether she might try to take this approach to paywalls -- if you're a US citizen, get an account at your local library and it'll hook into a country-wide version of SAILOR that gives you access to a ton of databases. (For all I know someone is already working on something like this and I'm underinformed.)
posted by brainwane at 8:53 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


if you're a US citizen, get an account at your local library and it'll hook into a country-wide version of SAILOR that gives you access to a ton of databases.

Every librarian wants this. Every database vendor does not.

Right now vendors make a ton of money selling the same thing to different libraries (often with differing pricing structures) in different states or even counties. This made sense with the book model where you are selling a physical thing, it makes much less sense with electronic stuff. This is why organizations like Lyrasis exist, so that there can be some bulk purchasing of this sort of thing (as well as centralized IT services, bulk buying for computers and other stuff &c) and economies of scale. But at some level it does raise the question: why is there so much redundant purchasing of electronically available information? And so the big deal is trying to find a revenue model that works so that business can be businesses (and do the work they do creating and maintaining these databases) but that libraries can act like the national-ish institution that they are and give every American (citizen or resident, I don't care) access to the same quality content.

The Library of Congress could be MUCH more of a leader in this regard than they have been, but so could the American Library Association. When you get business interests pressing right up against "the public good" usually the situation gets complicated (see also: why doesn't the IRS just let you do your taxes online with them?)
posted by jessamyn at 9:11 AM on February 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hayden, from the video interview: "[The Library of Congress] holds all of the books that have ever been printed in the United States."

No, no it does not. Wikipedia knows this. It's even on the Library's FAQ page. I'm surprised no one fact-checked.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:29 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I winced.
posted by jessamyn at 9:45 AM on February 25, 2016


I meant to type "resident" (like with NYC ID) and forgot to check myself when I typed "citizen," sorry. And I really appreciate this way of breaking down the question:
trying to find a revenue model that works so that business can be businesses (and do the work they do creating and maintaining these databases) but that libraries can act like the national-ish institution that they are and give every American (citizen or resident, I don't care) access to the same quality content.
"single-payer knowledge access" is probably even more of a nonstarter than "single-payer healthcare," but by gum and by golly I will keep hoping and doing my little bit.
posted by brainwane at 12:11 PM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


The year after Dr. Hayden began as Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, "Maryland was the first state in the U.S. to offer statewide Internet service to its residents with the introduction of SAILOR, Maryland's Online Public Information Network." From the SAILOR site: "Sailor is a project of Maryland’s public libraries that provides broadband Internet access for public libraries, schools and local government in Maryland, and an extensive collection of research databases for the use of Maryland public library customers." I wonder whether she might try to take this approach to paywalls -- if you're a US citizen, get an account at your local library and it'll hook into a country-wide version of SAILOR that gives you access to a ton of databases. (For all I know someone is already working on something like this and I'm underinformed.)

SAILOR was an awesome program. I was working in a very rural library in 2007ish, and people would routinely come in for the SAILOR renewal, because (as slow as dial-up was, which I'm pretty sure is all they offered at the time) the market had never gotten around to providing affordable high-speed for that area. Even in areas with high-speed, people who couldn't afford that would use SAILOR. Really, all of the consortium stuff in Maryland, run through Enoch Pratt was awesome - like the ILL, and the Ask program for online reference services.
posted by codacorolla at 12:28 PM on February 25, 2016


This is why organizations like Lyrasis exist, so that there can be some bulk purchasing of this sort of thing (as well as centralized IT services, bulk buying for computers and other stuff &c) and economies of scale. But at some level it does raise the question: why is there so much redundant purchasing of electronically available information?

One reason that comes to mind is the absolute shit-show we have here in the DC area with regards to funding WMATA and the Metro system. If there's ever been a year when DC, Maryland, and Virginia weren't pointing at each other and saying that the other folks should be paying more because of [reasons] I have never seen it. I can only imagine dividing up financial responsibility over larger areas and with purely digital products.

tl;dr: because municipalities would rather duplicate services and pay more than come to think they've shouldered a penny of responsibility for another region.
posted by phearlez at 12:45 PM on February 25, 2016


Jessamyn's comment on Techdirt's article about the nomination was voted one of the most insightful of the week.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:07 PM on March 6, 2016


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