Carla Hayden

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Carla Hayden, the first African American Librarian of Congress, will be at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans this year to receive the 2018 Newberry Award for her lifelong service to libraries. Hayden, who assumed her role in 2016, has emphasized access to collections as being key to the future success of libraries.

Hayden has stressed using making the library’s unique materials and collections more accessible and visible. “I’ve been a public librarian for most of my life,” Hayden told Taylor, Michigan’s News Herald during a recent visit, “so it’s important for me to get out into communities to talk to librarians and let you know what the Library of Congress can do for you."

One of the first things Hayden reportedly did when she became Librarian of Congress was “to procure three 18-wheelers to facilitate traveling exhibits and to get some of the library’s hidden treasures out into public view.” The Library is in the process of collaborating with the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for a joint traveling exhibit of the Library’s baseball card collection, which is considered one of the world’s largest.

In fact, it was President Barack Obama, upon nominating Hayden, who charged her with raising awareness of, and interest in, all the unique items in the Library’s collection. He asked Hayden, ‘What can you do as Librarian of Congress to make sure the public can see [all] of these things…” “Opening up this treasure chest, all of the wonderful things, to the public, is really I think one of the best gifts that we can [do],” said Hayden.

In addition to traveling exhibits, Hayden is seeking to raise the library’s public profile through social media as well. Hayden is the first Librarian of Congress with a Twitter account, which she uses to promote the library and engage with the public.

She tries to post timely and relevant content on Twitter every day. For example, when the movie Black Panther was released, she posted photos of herself and the Library’s collection of rare Black Panther comics which were curated specifically to coincide with the movie’s release. According to Hayden, using social media is an “adventure.”

RUSA President’s Program, a New Dawn for Libraries: A Conversion with Dr. Carla Hayden is scheduled for Saturday, June 23, from 4:00 pm–5:30. Hayden will also join National Archivist David Ferriero in ALA’s Auditorium Speaker Series session, The Librarian and the Archivist, to discuss “the importance of collecting physical information and materials in the digital age” on Sunday, June 24, 10:30 am–12:00 pm. Both sessions will take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.