Good News: Carla Hayden Easily Approved As The New Librarian Of Congress
from the yippee dept
Here’s some good news. After decades of ridiculously bad management, it appears that the Library of Congress has a real leader. Dr. Carla Hayden has been approved by the Senate as our new Librarian of Congress by a wide margin, 74 to 18. And that’s despite a last minute push by the ridiculous Heritage Foundation to argue that the Librarian of Congress should not be a librarian (and one with tremendous administrative experience). Heritage Foundation’s alerts can often sway Republican Senators, so the fact that only 18 still voted against her is quite something. Hayden was also able to get past ridiculous claims that she was pro-obscenity or pro-piracy based on people who just didn’t like the idea of an actually qualified person in the position.
She’s an exceptionally qualified librarian with administrative and leadership experience. And while I’m sure I won’t agree with everything she does, it seems like a massive improvement on the previous librarian, James Billington, who famously resisted any kind of modernization efforts, and who the Government Accountability Office had to call out multiple times for his leadership failings. Billington was so bad that when he resigned, the Washington Post was able to get people to go on the record celebrating.
The reaction inside the library was almost gleeful, as one employee joked that some workers were thinking of organizing a conga line down Pennsylvania Avenue. Another said it felt like someone opened a window.
?There is a general sense of relief, hope and renewal, all rolled into one feeling,? said one staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. ?Like a great weight has been lifted from our shoulders.?
Maureen Moore, who retired in 2005 but volunteers at the library, said she and her friends were thrilled.
?It?s a great day for the library. The man has had 27 years to do good things, and he hasn?t,? she said.
It’s a low bar, but Hayden will almost certainly be better than that — and hopefully a lot better as well. She’s shown in the past a willingness to stand up and fight against government surveillance and for freedom of speech and access to information. Her positions on copyright are less clear, but as she’s now in charge of the Copyright Office, hopefully she’ll bring some much needed balance to that office, and a greater recognition, as a librarian, of the importance of access to information, rather than locking up all info.
Of course, given all that, I can pretty much guarantee that Hollywood and other legacy copyright industries are going to pump up their fight to move the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress, and either set it up as its own agency, or dump it into the Dept. of Commerce, perhaps as part of the Patent and Trademark Office. Expect to see a big push on that very soon, including all sorts of bullshit arguments in favor of it. But remember, copyright was designed to benefit the public, and not as some sort of commercial tool that belongs in the Dept. of Commerce.