Carla Hayden isn’t your stereotypical librarian.
There’s no chain around her neck to hold her eyeglasses in place. She doesn’t keep a finger at her lips, ready to “shush” away any sounds louder than a whisper. Her dress doesn’t reach her ankles, and her hair is certainly not pulled back in a bun.
“Well, you’ll notice that I have spiky hair, and I try to spice it up a little bit,” she joked during a visit to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Her personal appearance isn’t the only thing she’s trying to spice up. As the 14th Librarian of Congress, Hayden is also striving to pep up the image of Washington D.C.’s Library of Congress.
In fact, she’s done that already. Her reign is a historic one. Nominated by President Barack Obama, whom she’s known for at least two decades, she’s the first woman, the first African American woman and just the third working librarian to hold the position.
“Librarianship is one of the feminized professions with social work, teaching and nursing. And for librarianship, 85 percent of the workforce is female. However, the leadership doesn’t reflect that. So being the very first female librarian is very significant,” she said with a smile.
The Chicago-born appointee has big plans for the institution, too. From digitizing much of the collection to launching traveling exhibits that will tour community libraries to creating an app, “you’ll be hearing a lot about ‘LC,’” she revealed.
What else is on her to-do list? Twitter.
“We’re using social media. I’m tweeting about the discoveries that I’m finding,” she raved. “I started it right after my swearing on Sept. 14, because I’m discovering the 162 million items the library has.”
The most fascinating pieces she’s found so far are the contents of President Abraham Lincoln’s pockets the night he was assassinated.
He had two pairs of glasses, a loose button from his suit, newspaper articles that were critical of him and a used handkerchief stowed away.
“That was a moment,” she reflected.
And as for Atlanta, there is no shortage of information about The Peach City.
There are photos of the city from the beginning of photography and maps of every house and structure that date back to before the Civil War.
But Hayden doesn’t want to keep findings like these to herself. She’s making sure everyone has access to the gold mine of history.
“My No. 1 goal is that by the end of my tenure appointment people in this country will know about the Library of Congress and feel that it’s their library,” she said.