Carla Hayden, formerly CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, is to be sworn in today as the first woman and first African-American to be librarian of Congress.
“I think I can break some news here,” Dr. Hayden told USA Today recently. “My understanding is that the Library of Congress is in negotiation to become a partner for the Digital Public Library of America… Some of the items from the Library of Congress are already available, but to be a full partner would be a significant step and so I can’t wait to be the librarian that signs that paper.”
Meanwhile, in a Baltimore Sun interview, Dr. said she has not yet decided whether the U.S. Copyright Office should be split from the Library of Congress. Let’s hope it stays there, in the interest of balanced copyright law. As an independent organization, the office would be too vulnerable to influence by the copyright lobby. I know. The copyright office has suffered from LoC’s technological backwardness. But with Dr. Hayden in place, as opposed to former Librarian James Billington, who preferred fax over email, that could change.
Your own advice to Dr. Hayden—in regard to LoC and the copyright system?
All right—now that Dr. Hayden is about to become librarian, just what do you think she should recommend in regard to the LoC’s priorities, tech and otherwise, including ways the institution can help public libraries and citizens in general? Not to mention the ebook community in particular.
Needless to say, working toward a national digital library endowment would be at or near the top of my list.
Also, I’d hope she would encourage the copyright office to be liberal in allowing the breaking of DRM for noninfringing purposes.
Of course, looking beyond the library as an institution, the real DRM solution is a change in copyright laws. Hillary Clinton is on record (TeleRead commentary here, Melville House post here, source document here) as being open to improved access to orphaned works. Let’s hope this enlightenment will extend to DRM and other areas, and that Dr. Hayden can encourage more of it if Clinton becomes president.
And if, um, Donald Trump wins? Well, that probably won’t be the best news for the book culture and library budgets. But you never know. If nothing else, if he is such a populist, maybe he can speak out against the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which has harmed the appreciation of literature, interfered with the creation of new derivative works, and cost schools and libraries many millions. Hardly a core Trump issue given that he isn’t that much of a reader. But maybe Dr. Hayden could at least educate his staffers (and Clinton’s). The act will expire in 2018.
Yes, in past roles, such as president of the American Library Association, Dr. Hayden took pro-library, pro-consumer stances while also opposing the Patriot Act, and ideally she will show similar sentiments in the future.
Getting back to the priorities for LoC as an institution, I’d love to see more resources available for preservation of born-digital material, and news stories about her give me reason to be optimistic.
Related: ‘Rock star’ Baltimore librarian makes history at Library of Congress, in the Washington Post. Excerpt: “Hayden also will focus on private fundraising, alongside the library’s fundraising arm, the James Madison Council. She has met with its chairman, David M. Rubenstein, and believes it will continue and grow. Rubenstein agrees. ‘I’m very much looking forward to working with Carla Hayden,’ he said. ‘She is a person who is used to raising private-sector money. I think she will bring her own flavor and her own style.'” Fundraising for LoC is terrific. But let’s also think more strategically and consider the endowment idea for America’s public and academic libraries—and their patrons.
Note: Infotoday.com columnist Corilee Christou will be reading this post and will be interested in your thoughts on what Dr. Hayden should do and say in her new job. See past Christou columns on Dr. Hayden and LoC (here and here, among other places).