A checkered past
Two decades ago, the library made history with the largest settlement by a U.S. agency for a discrimination case.
Diversity by the numbers
Clark, the union chief, said he also sees issues with advancement. The union represents nearly 700 library employees, most of them in lower grades and most are minorities.
Clark said the application process can be confusing, with an emphasis on certain key words that influence one’s application score. He said there are often cutoff scores for a certain job, which can disqualify applicants.
Clark was also not aware of the affirmative employment plan for 2011-2016. During a phone interview, he attempted to pull up the plan on the internal website, but received an error message.
“That’s the extent of [our] affirmative action program,” Clark said.
Mills said a change at the top might not solve all of the racial tensions at the library, just as President Barack Obama becoming the first black president did not solve racial divisions in the country. She hoped Hayden would meet with her and seek input from the workforce.
“Just like people see the president being African-American, so they’re logically thinking things have changed,” Mills said. “Don’t think that’s going to be any different. It’s not going to change. She needs to come in with her own staff. They still need to be open minded.”
Hayden, who is awaiting confirmation, has declined to give media interviews. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said Hayden is up for the challenge. The Maryland Democrat represents Baltimore, where Hayden has led the Enoch Pratt Free Library since 1993.
“I think without a doubt she is one that definitely believes that diversity is not a problem, but it’s our promise,” Cummings said. “I can tell you, she’s not going to tolerate anyone being treated unfairly.”