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.

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  • icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 3:06pm

    A Good Place to Start for the New Librarian

    Modernizing the online copyright search database at so that you can run a search and actually view the work covered by the registration rather than just get back a technically correct but useless textual description?

    See, e.g. Copyright Reg. No. VA0000209067, a "unique reinterpretation of negative into printed enlargement" titled "Barn, Cape Cod, Massachusetts" by Ansel Adams. Nice description. But what does it look like?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    KeillRandor (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 4:40pm


    (Remember not to hit return after typing in the subject :p )

    Pro piracy and obscenity?

    I guess she doesn't give a 612.46 :p

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ysth (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 5:02pm

    Steal their thunder

    Start lobbying for the Patent and Trademark Office to be moved into the library of commerce.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 5:06pm

    It only makes sense!

    I can see how they'll push it. What are the major areas of Intellectual Property? Patents, trademarks, and copyright. It only make sense to have one Intellectual Property Department. Consolidating them into one entity will save time and money, streamlining application and enforcement. Throw a bunch of buzzwords in there, run it through a team of lawyers to make it sound fancy, and push it on Congress.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 13 Jul 2016 @ 7:50pm

    But remember, copyright was designed to benefit the public, and not as some sort of commercial tool that belongs in the Dept. of Commerce.

    That was the old definition. Did you miss the fine print?

    We may modify this definition or any additional terms that apply to copyright to, for example, reflect changes to the law or changes to corporations. You should look at the definitions regularly. We’ll post notice of modifications to these definitions on this page. We’ll post notice of modified additional definitions in the applicable document. Changes will not apply retroactively and will become effective no sooner than fourteen days after they are posted. However, changes addressing new definitions for copyright or changes made for legal reasons will be effective immediately. If you do not agree to the modified terms for copyright, you should discontinue your use of that work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 13 Jul 2016 @ 11:24pm


    I'm pretty sure that the previous candidate was qualified for his job as well. I mean, Obama was as well.

    Once in office, she'll learn which side her bread is buttered on. Or else.

    This is the U.S.A., and we are talking about a position that can annoy big media a lot. Where is she going to be if Mr or Mrs president tells her to cut it out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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