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Obama will nominate the first African-American Librarian of Congress

By Thu-Huong Ha

President Barack Obama will nominate a longtime Chicago acquaintance to be the 14th Librarian of Congress. If approved, Carla Hayden would be first African-American and first woman to hold the title, a move Obama called “long overdue.”

According to his statement Feb. 24, Obama and his wife, Michelle, have known Hayden since she worked in the Chicago public library system, which she did on and off from 1973 to 1993. Hayden has overseen Baltimore’s public library system since 1993 and served briefly as the president of the American Library Association.

“Dr. Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today’s digital culture,” the statement from the White House said.

If approved, Hayden would replace James H. Billington, who previously held the position and was criticized for repeatedly refusing to hire a permanent chief information officer and bring the library into the digital age. Weeks before Billington retired last September, he appointed Bernard A. Barton Jr. as the library’s first CIO.