tv About Books Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden CSPAN May 28, 2022 11:46pm-12:06am EDT
you're going to wrap it up, but i just wanted to say thank you so much to everyone for being part of tonight's discussion. and of course we want you to buy the book. and donald will be here to sign it. all right. thank you. we took the words right? i know i could get a job here. on about books we delve into the latest news about the publishing industry with interesting insider interviews with publishing industry experts will also give you updates on current nonfiction authors and books the latest book reviews and we'll talk about the current nonfiction books featured on c-span's book tv. well since it's founding in 1800 the library of congress has grown to a budget of 800 million
dollars 3,000 staff members and a hundred and seventy million items and it's only had 14 librarians of congress. the 14th is now on your screen carla hayden. dr. hayden, what do you think the patrons presidents madison jefferson and adams would think about the library of congress today? i think that they would be so delighted to see so many people from all over the country that are using the collections that are visiting in dc and three buildings seeing exhibits. getting films on the lawn in the summer and doing all of these things and knowing that the library of congress is still that research arm for members of congress and 24/7. they are supplying information so they would be delighted. is the library of congress available to all us citizens or to anybody in the world?
yes, in fact it is the national library, and anyone can. really partake of the riches of the library congress by going through what we call our digital front door our website that has over 61 million items and connects you directly even to some of our librarians and so you have access and you can get a reader's card at 16 and use one of the 20 reading rooms that are in our chronic building the jefferson building in washington dc and the madison building and the adams building three buildings right in washington, dc. what's the relationship between the library and the congress itself? i mentioned that it's the research arm and there's a special unit that congressional
research service. that just gives nonpartisan objective research and reference to members of congress in their staff. i mentioned that 24/7 so whatever topic. or subject or things that are being discussed or considered by congress legislation this group of specialists and every field provides information that members of congress need for their deliberations and their values really include being that objective source, but also confidential information and confidentiality. so that's the main that's how the library of congress started serving congress and now it serves not only congress, but the people congress serves the entire nation. so dr. carla hayden, you're the 14th librarian of congress who appoints you do you apply for this job? the library in a congress the
position is a presidential nomination. so the president of the united states nominates a candidate and congress. actually votes on and hopefully approves the library of congress. and so i was nominated by president barack obama and i was confirmed in the senate. and confirm when you say confirmed you have both republicans and democrats voting for you in the senate. yes, in fact and the person who keeps her running tally of it. my mom has the official listing there, but it was 74 to 18 and a few extensions. well speaking of your parents every time we talk to you we do talk about the library and we'll come back to that. but who were your parents and where did you grow up? let's learn a little bit about you.
well, my family is from central, illinois springfield on my dad's side in part south of springfield and champaign, illinois where the university is my mom's family. and so we have strong midwestern roots, and i know was born in tallahassee, florida on a campus of florida a&m and historically black college because my dad was teaching violin and string there and my mom's is accompanist. so that's how i got to be born there. and then as you can see though, they were classically trained musicians. i had no talent so that's how i ended up a librarian though. i loved to read though. and your mother is still with us were your parents' readers? they were avid readers and so were my grandparents. especially my father's mother. i would spend summers in
springfield, illinois, and she started reading to me and then they took me to the state library in springfield. so i got a chance to see of beautiful library and then i learned to read myself and then that was it. well now according to several sources. there is a book called bright april which inspired your love of reading. what is that? it reinforced my love of reading because it was a book. i saw it when i was about eight or nine and it was the first time i saw myself in a book. it's about a little girl african-american girl who was a brownie. i was a brownie and her family had a piano in the living room and just reminded me so much of of myself. she had two pigtails. and so did i and i just love that book and knew that books. i love them so much because they gave me windows to the world and took me places that i couldn't
imagine but when i saw that book i saw myself too. so it was a mirror and that just cemented my love of reading. and at what point did you decide to give libraries a chance? well i always love libraries because they were full of the things that i love books and when i was graduating from undergrad i found out that there was an entire profession of that. included opportunities to design libraries to select the books that are in there. i had no idea that there were so many parts to this thing that i love the library that contained those things that i love and so that started in terms of my career and finding out that there was librarianship. and a master's and a doctorate in library science from the university of chicago.
you got to know a pretty famous couple in chicago then didn't you? yes, well, i was working and i worked at the chicago public library then i taught at the university of pittsburgh went back to chicago to be a the chief librarian and at that time a young lady michelle. was working at city hall and she was a deputy mayor and someone very in that administration and the library was part of her portfolio. and that's how i met mrs obama. and got to know the president that is robinson then right then they got engaged and married and everything like that. so who would have thought that years later? and our past didn't they weren't entangled. but years later that i would be
basically recommended by a number of people in the library community and he would select me to be his nominee. carla hayden, what was it about the enoch pratt free librarian baltimore that attracted attracted you for so many years. the inning proud-free library was the first library system in the united states and that means that they had a central library and other cities had central libraries of boston, new york, of course, but it was the first library in the country about the 1870s that was established with branch libraries and essential library and mr. edie pratt. was a entrepreneur that came down from massachusetts and made his fortune during the civil war in baltimore. and andrew carnegie heard about
this system free for all regardless of religion or color and he said that in the establishment unit pride. and andrew carnegie came down to baltimore to find out how this worked and it was the first public private. covenant in terms of providing public libraries and andrew carnegie in his book gospel of wealth credits in a prep for demonstrating what private philanthropy can do especially in libraries so it was legendary in the library field to any prattville library and you're the director there for many years for over 20 over 20 years, and it was a wonderful time to be involved with the library because it's also functions as the state library for the maryland. and so you had the 23 counties in the city. system of taking materials back and forth throughout the state
that was centralized in baltimore so you'd have trucks and things going out think of a ups or something going out with that and also it was the headquarters for the state. network it network for all of the other libraries well during your tenure dr. hayden at enoch pratt a couple of social and political issues came up one was after 9/11 the patriot act was passed and you became well known for your objection to it as a librarian. why did you object? during that time. i was the president of the american library association and that's the largest group of people who are it's a membership organization of librarians booksellers. everyday people who are interested in supporting libraries and at that time.
the patriot act included a section section 215 that gave authority for looking at records. and libraries had always been and still are very much in partnership with security and national security and local security and being partners in that what? it was concerning with the section at that time was that there was a opportunity for examination of records without certain legal. safeguards and notification of the people who were being reviewed and also just looking in general at for instance everyone that took out a certain book and so what the library association wanted to make sure is that while security was being
strengthened and enforced that we also protected people's rights to know because wanting having an interest in something might not indicate that you're going to do something illegal or criminal and so we worked with government and provisions were made in that section and so now we are able to continue in our partnership for national security. and because of your speaking out against that section 215 you became ms. magazine's person of the year in 2003 and you were quoted as saying libraries are a cornerstone of democracy where information is free and equally available to everyone. and when you think about what that means in terms of the founding of the united states
libraries public libraries as we know them now including the pratt library really got their start after the civil war and during the 1870s 1880s with the spread of public education. so the opportunity to have free public education as well as access to information started at the same time, and i think it really helped make this a unique combination when you think worldwide the other issue i wanted to bring up during your time in baltimore was the death. of freddie gray and the riots that ensued afterward. what was your role with the libraries at that time? i was the head of the library system and the inning pratt still has a very busy library right at the epicenter of where all of the unrest was taking
place, pennsylvania avenue branch and the librarian who was there at the time melanie towson? knew that that library needed to still be that opportunity center in the midst of all of that unrest and so we made sure that the library right after the things scenes that people saw on television the car burning the library was right across from that drugstore. that was also on the news. that that library would be open and sure enough the next day. people were coming into that library to get on the computers to get an eventually in the next few weeks after that because there weren't stores open it became a distribution center for food it became a place for classes young people were out of school and it just became the place that it always was in.
library ecosphere and in that community well people i'm sorry. i didn't mean to interrupt you. given what you did at enoch pratt and given what you're doing now at the library of congress. how different are these positions? they're actually very similar because in a national library world you're still providing access to as many people as possible and you have a diverse community a national community you're providing special services. to congress you're what also you are making sure that as many people as possible can use the resources that the world's largest library has. well, we've talked about some of the main issues but there are some fun aspects to your job as well. and one of those is the gershwin award, which is what the
gershwin award for popular song is an award it's the given to an individual or individuals who? demonstrate and have demonstrated excellence in popular music and they the winners have included paul mccartney a carole king smokey robinson my first gershwin price winner in this position, tony bennett and interpreter popular song and most recently. garth brooks right before the pandemic and not long ago, mr. lionel richie well, we do have to show a little bit of video that was taken at the gershwin awards a view rocking with lionel richie singing all night long you can see dr. hayden up there in the box with this is richie while lionel richie perform. is that a fun evening for you? it was wonderful because in one
of the previous gershwin award concerts, it was noted the master of ceremonies samuel jackson mentioned that it was bipartisan karaoke because these songs are popular. everybody knows the songs and they're singing along and that unity in what it demonstrates to is that music can bring people together. and that was a great demonstration. you had everybody on their feet and everybody talked but singing and it was wonderful. so dr. hayden if somebody is listening or watching this interview and wants to be the 15th librarian of congress. what do you recommend to them? the first thing i'd recommend is going to the library's website llc.gov and just getting a sense of what is going on at the library now they can see our
digital strategy our plan for the next 30 years. they can see what times of activities that are going on. they can really get a sense of the collections. and possibly then think about what would be the role of the library going forward in the next 20 or 30 years? and so that getting familiar with the library of congress and then dreaming big. dr. carla hayden 14th librarian of congress. thank you for joining us on book tv. news and the latest nonfiction books. thanks for joining us on the about books program and podcast about books is available as a podcast on the c-span now app or wherever you get your podcast.