FTRW 2016 – Day Four – Obama’s Nominee for Librarian of Congress Kicks Ass!

I feel like this year’s Freedom to Read Week series is a bit more toned down than the usual controversial swear-fest I enjoy creating each year.

But there are things that happen on a less provocative level that have impacts on librarianship, censorship and access to information even if they don’t get an “R” rated sticker from Wal-Mart or some fundamentalist isn’t thrown into a tizzy by the book li’l Johnny brings home from the school library that has the word “Hell” in it.

Today had one of those significant moments when Barack Obama announced his nominee for the next Librarian of Congress, former CEO of Baltimore Public Library, Carla Hayden.

Some very notable points about this nomination – she would be the first female and first African-American to hold the position.  Ms. Hayden would be only the second professional librarian to hold the position and the first who comes from a background in public libraries.

Beyond that, she is pretty damn radical having made her initial mark fighting the Patriot Act in the US, lobbying for open access and being instrumental in keeping Baltimore’s libraries open during last year’s riots as a “safe haven” for citizens.  (As Boing Boing put it in their title, “Obama’s Nominee is a rip snortin’, copyrightin’, surveillance hatin’, no foolin’ LIBRARIAN!

The Librarian of Congress is a very influential position yet with little in the way to define it:

The position of Librarian of Congress has been held by candidates of different backgrounds, interests, and talents, as there are no official rules for who qualifies to be the Librarian of Congress. Therefore, there have been politicians, businessmen, authors, poets, lawyers, and one professional librarian who have served as the Librarian of Congress…There is very little legislation for the Librarian of Congress or rules regarding who should be selected for the position. [In 1945, American Librarian Association President, Carl] Vitz stated the position “requires a top-flight administrator, a statesman-like leader in the world of knowledge, and an expert in bringing together the materials of scholarship and organizing them for use—in short, a distinguished librarian”.

But if this news is getting covered in Teen Vogue, I suspect that’s a good sign! 😉

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