If approved by the Senate, President Obama’s nomination to lead the Library of Congress would make Dr. Carla Hayden the first black, and first woman, to hold the position. The former president of the American Library Association and current CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore was nominated Wednesday. Obama shared in a White House statement that he and the first lady have known Hayden since she was deputy commissioner and chief librarian at the Chicago Public Library back in the early 1990s.
“Dr. Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today’s digital culture,” said Obama. “She has the proven experience, dedication, and deep knowledge of our nation’s libraries to serve our country well and that’s why I look forward to working with her in the months ahead.”
Her confirmation would have a significant impact on the tech industry, as noted by the Washington Post. “Hayden would have a position with very real power, as it’s responsible for settling some of the weightiest policy questions in tech,” Brian Fung writes. “The institution has handled questions such as whether it’s legal for you to unlock your own cellphone so you can take your device to another carrier, or whether it’s legal for security researchers or your local mechanic to access the software powering your car… As more of our everyday devices are coming with embedded software — think smart refrigerators or intelligent TVs, for example — that means that the next librarian of Congress will likely have a tremendous say over our technological future.”
Hayden’s past experience updating library systems for the digital age has been praised by the tech industry. If confirmed, Hayden says her position would affect “how people view the future of libraries and what a national library can be. It’s inclusive. It can be part of everyone’s story.”