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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

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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
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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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U.S. Library of Congress will not collect every tweet on twitter

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Developers can now access twitter archives. VOA
Developers can now access twitter archives. VOA

US, Dec 31, 2017: The U.S. Library of Congress says it will no longer collect every single tweet published on Twitter as it has been doing for the past 12 years.

The library said this week that it can no longer collect everything across the entire social media platform because of recent changes Twitter has made, including allowing longer tweets, photos and videos.

It said in a blog post this week that its first objective with collecting and archiving tweets was “to document the emergence of online social media for future generations.” The library says it has fulfilled that objective and no longer needs to be a “comprehensive” collector of tweets.

FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2013 file photo, the Library of Congress is seen in Washington.
FILE – In this Dec. 19, 2013 file photo, the Library of Congress is seen in Washington. VOA

The Library of Congress said it will still collect and archive tweets in the future, but will do so on a more selective basis. It said going forward “the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy.”

The library said it generally does not collect media comprehensively, but said it made an exception for public tweets when the social media platform was first developed.

The library said it will keep its previous archive of tweets from 2006-2017 to help people understand the rise of social media and to offer insight into the public mood during that time. “Throughout its history, the Library has seized opportunities to collect snapshots of unique moments in human history and preserve them for future generations,” it said.

“The Twitter Archive may prove to be one of this generation’s most significant legacies to future generations. Future generations will learn much about this rich period in our history, the information flows, and social and political forces that help define the current generation,” it said. (VOA)