Women Named to Lead Library of Congress, Design Presidential Library

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Carla_Hayden

By US Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

July 13, 2016; Time and the Chicago Tribune

July has been a history-making month for U.S. women. On Wednesday, Time reported that Carla Hayden made history when the Senate voted to approve her nomination as Librarian of Congress. Hayden, who was nominated by President Obama in February, is both the first woman and the first African American to hold the post.

Holding a PhD in library science from the University of Chicago, Hayden is currently the chief executive of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Hayden understands how a library can meet some of the needs of a distressed community. She earned praise for, as we reported in our nonprofit news coverage, keeping the library open during the unrest in the city after the death of Freddie Gray. The library became a hub for community information and a meeting space. She is only the fourteenth librarian to serve in the 216 years since the library’s founding, and will hold her new position for ten years.

Meanwhile, in New York, President Obama named the husband and wife team of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien as the architects of his presidential library, to be established in Chicago. This is the first time a woman has served as a lead architect for a presidential library. The Chicago Tribune reports that a woman, Dina Griffin, also heads Interactive Design Architects, the Chicago firm that will work with Williams and Tsien on the Obama center. Still, the historic news received hardly any traction.

In Tsien’s world, diversity might not be the norm. The Tribune reported the architecture field mirrors economy-wide trends where female architects earn about 80 percent of what male architects do, and most women find the long hours unreasonable once family commitments enter the picture.—Carrie Collins-Fadell