“The Newberry Library to Honor Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden” by S.M. O’Connor

The Newberry Library announced this month it will award the 2018 Newberry Library Award to Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden “for her outstanding contributions to the humanities and to the field of librarianship.”

Deeply committed to the spirit of public service that defines her profession, Hayden has consistently strived to expand users’ access to information.  In addition, she has been a leader in helping libraries evolve intelligently in the digital age, promoting digital literacy, community engagement, and new ways of interacting with readers and other users in person and online.

She is both the first woman and the first Black person of either sex to lead the Library of Congress, which is the de facto national library of the United States of America.  On February 24, 2016, President Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. nominated her to be the fourteenth Librarian of Congress and on July 13, 2016 the U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment.

Dr. Hayden replaced the thirteenth Librarian of Congress, the historian James H. Billington, whom President Ronald Reagan had appointed in 1987 and held the post until 2015.  Previously, she served as C.E.O. of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore from 1993 to 2016.  In 1995, she was the first Black recipient of Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award for her outreach services at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.   She started an after-school center to offer teenagers help with homework, college counseling, and career counseling.  Receiving the 2018 Newberry Library Award is something of a triumphant return for a hometown girl because before she arrived at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, from 1991 to ’93 she was Deputy Commissioner and Chief Librarian of the Chicago Public Library (C.P.L.), where she had begun her career.  She was a library associate and children’s librarian at the C.P.L. from 1973 to 1979.  Children’s literature and children’s patronage of libraries have remained important to her. From 1979 to 1982, she was a young adult services coordinator at the C.P.L.  For five years, she worked as library services coordinator at the Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.), back when the M.S.I. had a library, from 1982 to 1987. She was Assistant Professor of Library and Information Services at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1991.

Carla Hayden earned her undergraduate degree at Roosevelt University and both her master’s degree and her doctorate at the Graduate Library School at The University of Chicago.  In January of 2010, President Obama nominated Dr. Hayden to join the Board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the agency of the U.S. Government that provides grants, awards, and guidance to the federation’s museums and libraries, and in June of 2010 the U.S. Senate confirmed her appointed. She was President of the American Library Association from 1993 to 1994.

“Throughout her career Carla Hayden has championed the timeless ideals of library service, while encouraging libraries to adapt to the changing needs of their communities and users,” stated Newberry President & Librarian David Spadafora.  “As Librarian of Congress, she is now pursuing a mission that we at the Newberry closely identify with: preserving and continuing to assemble a rich cultural heritage, and making it both assessable and usable in myriad ways to a wide variety of audiences.”

“It is an honor to receive the Newberry Award from the library that has given me and many others rich opportunities academically and personally,” stated Dr. Hayden.  “Several years ago, I returned home and accompanied two teen-age girls to the library and witnessed the power the Newberry has on young minds.  They were engaged and immersed themselves in the collection.  The library’s ability to inspire and foster learning is a testament to the legacy of Walter Newberry.”

The Newberry Library states, “Since its centennial year in 1987, the Newberry has presented the Newberry Library Award to distinguished individuals and organizations.”  Recent recipients included Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer-Prize winning biographer; David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning historian and biographer; and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Dr. Hayden will receive the 2018 Newberry Library Award during a dinner ceremony on Monday, April 23, 2018.  C.K. and Robert Wedgeworth and Sheli and Burt Rosenberg will co-chair The 2018 Newberry Library Award Dinner.  The event at VenueSix10 at 610 South Michigan Avenue is supposed to run from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  A Cocktail Reception will begin at 6:00 p.m.  The Presentation of the Newberry Library Award and Remarks by Dr. Carla Hayden will begin at 7:00 p.m.  Dinner will begin at 8:00 p.m.  A ticket for an individual costs $750, a Benefactor Table with ten seats will cost $10,000, and a Sponsor Table with ten seats will cost $25,000.  Click here to purchase tickets and here to donate money for the Newberry Library Award Dinner without purchasing tickets to attend it.


Please note that The Newberry Library will be closed from Saturday, February 17, 2018 through Monday, February 21, 2018.

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