The Library of Congress was founded in 1800 with an appropriation to buy “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress,” essentially as reference materials for legislators. By 1802, its catalog included over 900 books.
Since then, the LOC has grown into the largest collection of books and historical documents in the country, with nearly 170 million different cataloged items. As such, it is one of the most important resources in the world for scholars and researchers. Notably, it is not a lending library, nor is it a place you can take your toddler for story time.
Instead, the LOC’s primary function remains serving as a resource for members of Congress, their staff, and committee staff. The interface between Congress and the library’s vast collection of scholarship is the Congressional Research Service, an office within the LOC. The core mission of the CRS is summarized as follows:
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) serves as shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress. CRS experts assist at every stage of the legislative process — from the early considerations that precede bill drafting, through committee hearings and floor debate, to the oversight of enacted laws and various agency activities.
CRS approaches complex topics from a variety of perspectives and examines all sides of an issue. Staff members analyze current policies and present the impact of proposed policy alternatives.”
This is why it is so puzzling (and frustrating) to read that the U.S. Senate is poised to confirm—with strong support from Republicans—President Obama’s nomination of Carla Hayden to become the next Librarian of Congress, to serve a 10 year term.
The last confirmed Librarian of Congress was a Rhodes Scholar, a graduate and later professor at both Harvard and Princeton, a distinguished and well-published scholar, and prior to his appointment by President Reagan as Librarian of Congress, he directed the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Prior to that, the Librarian was respected historian Daniel Boorstin, also a Rhodes Scholar and prolific author.
Carla Hayden, the President’s nominee, is no scholar. In fact, leftist magazine The Nation described her in glowing terms as a “radical librarian” for her leftist activism while overseeing community libraries in Chicago, where she first met Obama, and later in Baltimore:
Hayden advanced the notion of librarians as activists, and of libraries as vital community institutions, not just repositories for books. ‘We serve the underserved,’ she told Ms. magazine in 2003, when the publication named her Woman of the Year.”
Hayden first came to prominence as a leader of the American Library Association who protested the Children’s Internet Protection Act, a federal law requiring the use of pornography filters on public school computers, and computers at public libraries benefiting from federal funding. (See Former President of Pro-Pornography Organization Nominated to Head the Library of Congress).
Showing that literally nothing escapes the lens of class, race, or gender in this administration, Obama hailed Hayden’s nomination as “long overdue,” because Hayden will be the first female and African-American Librarian of Congress, despite the fact that Hayden has no scholarly credentials, and no experience in running a research library, no experience in intellectual property law (LOC owns the Copyright Office), and no experience in running an organization with over 3,000 employees. Instead, she is a little-l librarian who was chosen for her lefty tendencies, not for her ability to run the LOC effectively or to provide timely, talented, accurate, and efficient research support to Congress.
Hayden’s appointment will surely lead to more of the kind of petty controversies over which acting-Librarian David Mao has presided since the previous Librarian retired last year. The Mao regime saw the Library drop the term “illegal alien” and “alien” from subject matter headers in its catalog, replacing them with terms like “unauthorized immigation” and “noncitizens.” And if you don’t think this is precisely the kind of thing Hayden lives for, it’s worth noting that her beloved leftist American Library Association was one of the organizations pushing the change because “illegal alien” is allegedly now a pejorative term.
Shockingly, Hayden’s confirmation hearings have now just sailed through the Senate Rules Committee chaired by Sen. Roy Blunt. The Missouri Republican, apparently not caring that the candidate was an unqualified leftist who would undoubtedly seek to politicize the Congressional Research Service, and radicalize the LOC more generally, has supported her nomination:
[Blunt] said in a brief interview that he believes Hayden may win confirmation before Congress leaves town in mid-July for the presidential nominating conventions. ‘That would certainly be my hope, that we get this done before recess, and the sooner the better,’ Blunt said. ‘The library’s going to benefit from her leadership.'”
We are told that other Republican Senators are finally catching on to the danger of a Hayden confirmation, and that certain of them (Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and Ted Cruz of Texas) may be placing holds on her nomination. Let’s hope more Senators join them, and quickly.