Who knew that being a librarian would lead to all this?
September 14, 2016 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Today at 12:00 PM EDT, Dr. Carla Hayden (previously) will be sworn in as the first woman and the first African-American to serve as the Librarian of Congress. She'll be tasked with pulling the Library of Congress out of internal turmoil following a scathing report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office last year. (previously) You can watch a live stream of the swearing in at the Library's YouTube channel.
posted by numaner (15 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
The National Anthem singer is all ears.

(I had a tiny bit of hope that Dr. Hayden would take a knee during the anthem. She didn't.)
posted by numaner at 9:05 AM on September 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is good.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:48 AM on September 14, 2016

So excited for the Library of Congress to be a leader in the community, instead of dragged kicking and screaming while engaging in a circular firing squad.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:27 AM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, pretty psyched to see the autobiography of noted atheist and general misanthrope H.L. Mencken (a Baltimore native) standing up right behind her in the 'internal turmoil' link.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:32 AM on September 14, 2016

My contacts at LoC seem really excited by the appointment. Knowing what I do about LoC tech, I don't don't believe that most of the problems they're facing are inherent to the organization.
posted by wotsac at 11:35 AM on September 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

It's at once a small thing and a significant step: Dr. Hayden has created an official Twitter account, @LibnOfCongress.
posted by metaquarry at 11:41 AM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

I agree this is Wonderful, Awesome and About-Bloody-Time. But I still think jessamyn should have got the job.
posted by angiep at 11:52 AM on September 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

A lot of attention has been paid to the fact that she will be the first woman and the first African-American. That's notable and welcome, but at least as important is her experience has primarily been as an administrator, rather than a scholar, in contrast to the last two Librarians. Also, she will be the first to serve a 10-year rather than lifetime term.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:32 PM on September 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

@angiep: I think that's coming from a great place but I think it's worth remembering that the Librarian is directly responsible for an annual budget in the half-billion range, roughly three thousand staff, and a wide range of programs which include things like the Congressional Research Service, U.S. Copyright Office, etc. I haven't gotten the impression that's what Jessamyn would enjoy doing and the agency really needs someone with deep administrative experience. Dr. Hayden's experience as the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library appears to have been compelling over a number of other people who were highly skilled but in different areas.

If I was trying to convince Jessamyn to move to D.C. I would assume an effective pitch would not be “become a high-level federal administrator” but something more like “Here's a budget and some assistants to help American libraries get to where they should be in 20 years.” Of course, that and $3.50 will get you the proverbial cup of coffee…
posted by adamsc at 1:41 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I missed that her confirmation had gone through, so I'm delighted to hear this.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:58 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

How much say does Congress have over what the LoC can and can't do?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:04 PM on September 14, 2016

How much say does Congress have over what the LoC can and can't do?

Recently? Far too much. See the extremely offensive, hyper-political slugfest that ensued this summer when LoC tried to change the subject heading 'illegal alien' (NYT) to something less insulting and Congress lost its everloving mind.

There have also been mutterings about taking the Copyright Office out of LoC. This comes up just about every time the DMCA exemptions are up for renewal.

As a librarian, I rely on LC subject headings for my day to day searching (well ok, fine: more like once a month because I don't work with disciplines where there's heavy usage of books. Point remains!). I also would like to rely on LoC to be a leader in digitization strategies, copyright and content creation guidance, and best practices in running large library organizations.

To state things very generously, LoC has not been that leading light for libraries in some time. I'm looking forward to Carla Hayden's tenure.
posted by librarylis at 7:42 PM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

What's weirder about that slugfest is how very reluctant LoC can be about changing subject headings. I witnessed (but did participate in) debates amongst cataloging librarians, including some at the LoC, re the term white slavery, ca. 2010. Oh my goodness, the most painstaking endeavor! Involving semantics, history, geopolitics, gender, labor. . . the conversation went on, and on, and on.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:41 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

So pretty much she's got maybe 3 years before she burns out from the shitshow.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 5:16 PM on September 15, 2016

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