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Librarian of Congress likely to make Huge Collections more Accessible in US

Hayden has made history as the Library’s first woman director as well as the first African-American

The 14th Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, during her interview with the Associated Press after a ceremony at the Library of Congress, where she took the oath of office, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. Hayden, a former Chicago children's librarian, is the first woman and African American to serve in the role. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) VOA

WASHINGTON, Mar 4, 2017: As riots convulsed the city of Baltimore, Maryland, in 2015, Carla Hayden kept a library in the heart of the chaos open. She says people in the neighborhood lined up outside the library to get in, even as a drugstore across the street was being looted and burned.

“The people did not touch the library, because it was the resource center in that community,” Hayden told VOA. “It’s beloved. It is protected. It is the place of hope in a community that needs hope.”

One year later, President Barack Obama elevated Hayden from her post as CEO of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library to head the Library of Congress, which was established more than 200 years ago as the research arm for congressional officials.

She took over an institution that has been criticized, in recent years, for mismanagement, a lack of leadership, and falling behind in technological advances.

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Hayden’s focus is on upgrading the library’s technology to make the eclectic mix of 160 million items — from books and photos to sheet music and maps, even baseball cards — available to people everywhere.

Rare photo of unidentified African American soldier in US Civil War Union uniform with wife and two daughters between 1863 and 1865. (Library of Congress)
Rare photo of unidentified African American soldier in US Civil War Union uniform with wife and two daughters between 1863 and 1865. (Library of Congress) VOA

“I want the Library of Congress to open its arms to people around the world, to let people know it is available to them,” said Hayden, who colleagues say is warm and determined.

Library’s collections

Considered America’s library, the Library of Congress contains more than 30 million books and print materials from around the world in more than 450 languages. It houses a 1400s Gutenberg Bible, and owns the world’s largest comic book collection.

Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947] Music Division, Library of Congress. William Gottlieb, photographer.
Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947] Music Division, Library of Congress. William Gottlieb, photographer. VOA

While the public can view materials in reading rooms, they cannot check them out. Because the materials can’t be checked out, Hayden wants to make the library materials, especially those online, more accessible and interactive by using the latest technologies.

“We have things on our website that bring the collections to people wherever they are,” she said. “They can download materials, and participate in a 3-D virtual reality tour of the library.”

Hayden sees herself as “getting on the train that had already been started in the 1990s,” when the library first began digitizing its items. She is now developing a digital strategy to significantly increase the amount of online content.

She says the volume of items the library receives is enormous, with at least 10,000 items added to the collections every day of the workweek.

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Connection with books, libraries

During an interview with VOA, Hayden, 64, held her favorite book, Bright April, which she recalls checking out of a library when she was about 8. It’s about a young African-American girl who is a Brownie, a younger level of a Girl Scout, and experiences racial prejudice.

Hayden says she identified with the moral of the story — that even though people are different on the outside, they are the same on the inside.

“I thought this little girl just reflected me,” she said.

Her love for that book, and many others, propelled Hayden to become a children’s librarian. She also became chief librarian for Chicago’s public library and the president of the American Library Association. By working in libraries with diverse patrons, she learned that it’s important to “recognize the cultural heritage of the neighborhoods.”

Traveling exhibits

Besides increasing online services, Hayden wants to make Library of Congress materials available through traveling exhibits, especially beyond city limits.

“The library is working on re-establishing a mobile service, taking an 18-wheeler truck and loading it up with facsimiles, sometimes with electronic information and devices, to help people connect with the Library of Congress directly,” she said.

Uncle Sam Poster "I want you for U.S. Army: nearest recruiting station" (Artist: James Montgomery Flagg, Published c1917)
Uncle Sam Poster “I want you for U.S. Army: nearest recruiting station” (Artist: James Montgomery Flagg, Published c1917) VOA

Hayden has a proven record of expanding outreach programs and technology in libraries.

More than 20 years ago, she paved the way for Baltimore’s public library system to become the first in Maryland to provide internet access.

Now she wants to ensure that millions of items in the world’s biggest library are accessible to everyone.(VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

cryptocurrency. google
Google sacks dozens over sexual harassment. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?