A Tallahassee native who is the first African American and woman to lead the Library of Congress will be the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Fall 2019 Commencement speaker.
Carla Hayden, Ph.D., 14th Librarian of Congress, will serve as speaker for both the Friday, Dec. 13 and Saturday, Dec. 14 Commencement ceremonies at Al Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium, 1800 Wahnish Way.
“It is my honor to be delivering the Commencement Address to the graduates of Florida A&M University,” Hayden said. “I have a very personal connection to the University.”
Hayden said she was born in FAMU Hospital and delivered by the “highly-respected Dr. R.L. Anderson.”
“My ties are deeper because my father Bruce Hayden was recruited by the legendary Dr. William Patrick Foster, head of the University’s Music Department and Marching Band, to start a string program,” said Hayden, who grew up in Queens, N.Y., and later moved with her mother Colleen Dowling Hayden to Chicago.
“It will be wonderful to reconnect with the University accompanied by my mother who also taught music at John G. Riley Elementary School in Tallahassee.”
Hayden was sworn in as the Librarian of Congress on Sept. 14, 2016, following her nomination by President Barack Obama and confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and is the repository of millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collection. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and home to the U.S. Copyright Office.
Hayden’s career as a librarian spans nearly half a century. She began with the Chicago Public Library as a library associate and children’s librarian in 1973. Later, she served as the young adult services coordinator from 1979 to 1982. For the next five years, Hayden was the library services coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
Hayden also worked in academia. From 1987 to 1991, she was an assistant professor for Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She then returned to her hometown, Chicago to work as deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library, a post she held from 1991 to 1993.
Prior to her present position in Washington, Hayden was CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore for 23 years.
Hayden received a B.A. from Roosevelt University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago.
Among her other affiliations, Hayden was president of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004. In 1995, she became the first African American to receive Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award in recognition of her outreach services at the Pratt Library, which included an after-school center for Baltimore teens offering homework assistance and college and career counseling.
In January 2010, following her nomination by President Obama, Hayden was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board.
“FAMU is delighted to welcome back Dr. Carla Hayden to the place where she was born,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “Her accomplishments are a testimony to the power of books and education to transform lives. Her words will inspire graduates to go forth and transform the world.”