Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Carla Hayden Thinks Libraries Are a Key to Freedom via NY Times

Carla Hayden Thinks Libraries Are a Key to Freedom
NY Times Magazine: 1.19.2017 by Ana Marie Cox

Most librarians of Congress haven’t actually previously been librarians. What’s the best preparation for this role?

There have been two other librarians of the 14 total — we’ve had historians, we’ve had lawyers — but the main theme has been an interest in ideas and knowledge and a belief in that. That’s what prepares you — to have an open mind, to want to expand other people’s interest in history and knowledge. Each librarian has been almost perfect for the time that they served. I just hope that I can keep that momentum going.

Well, it’s funny that you mention that each librarian appointed seems to have turned out, in retrospect, perfect for the time, because you’re a very particular librarian. You’re the first woman and the first African-American named to the role, and some people have called you a radical librarian.

We librarians love that. That’s against our stereotype.

Maybe I’m a romantic, but I do think of librarians as inherently radical. There’s something political about access to information.

And it has been throughout history. Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” If you can absorb information yourself and make your own decisions, that’s a freedom. And for so many times in history, being able to read and access information has been part of it, especially in my case, with African-Americans.  READ MORE @

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