Politics

Senate Confirms 1st Woman, African-American Librarian of Congress

Carla D. Hayden has headed libraries in Baltimore, Chicago

Carla D. Hayden was easily confirmed by the Senate.. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Carla D. Hayden to serve as the first African-American and the first woman to lead the Library of Congress.  

Hayden, who now leads Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library, will serve a 10-year, renewal term, under term limits set by Congress. The confirmation vote was 74-18.  

"I look forward to working with the dedicated staff of the Library of Congress," Hayden said in a statement. "I will be honored to build on the legacy and accomplishments of my predecessors in this position, to be part of a continuing movement to open the treasure chest that is the Library of Congress even further and to make it a place that can be found and used by everyone.”  

Hayden fills a vacancy left by former Librarian James H. Billington, who retired in January after a 29-year tenure in which he came under fire for a host of technology failures.  

Hayden is the 14th librarian of Congress.  

President Barack Obama, who nominated Hayden in February, said he knew he and first lady Michelle Obama knew the librarian from her time at the Chicago Public Library, where she worked from 1973 to 1981 and again from 1991 to 1993.  

[ Library of Congress Nominee Impresses Senators ] The Hayden vote was welcomed at the White House, but aides there want Senate Republican leaders to clear the way for other nomination votes before they leave for a summer recess.  

Press Secretary Josh Earnest, before news of the floor vote broke, said Hayden has "impeccable credentials."  

"She's got a particularly strong case" to make for confirmation, "but there are others [awaiting floor votes] that have strong cases," Earnest said.  

Her confirmation comes at a time when the nation's oldest library has been working to limit discrimination and bolster minority representation . But some, including a union president, believe the institution still has a long way to go.  

[ Diversity Concerns Linger at the Library of Congress ]  

At her confirmation hearing in April, Hayden said her love of reading began at a young age, when her mother helped her check out a book from a storefront in Queens.    

As a child, she spent summers in Springfield, Ill., where she would accompany her grandfather, a retired postal worker, to the state Capitol and state library where a fellow churchgoer kept a collection of books by American authors.    

Bridget Bowman and John T. Bennett contributed.