On Tuesday, November 7, in front of an intimate gathering of colleagues, friends, and family, Dr. Carla Hayden, this country’s 14th Librarian of Congress, received the 2017 Women’s National Book Association Award for her “meritorious work in the world of books.” When Dr. Hayden was sworn-in to her position on September 14, 2016 under the administration of Barack Obama, she became the first African American to lead the Library of Congress, which today is “widely known for its free, non-partisan service to Congress, librarians, scholars, and the public—in the United States and around the world.”
The ceremony took place at Pen + Brush, a gallery dedicated to exhibiting the work of female artists. As an organization, Pen + Brush calls attention to gender disparities in the art world, and works to effect change for emerging and mid-career female artists. Filled with paintings and other mixed-media works of strong, empowered women, the gallery was the perfect place to recognize the achievements of the first woman to lead the national library.
Jane Kinney-Denning, the WNBA’s National President (and the M.S. in Publishing program’s Executive Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach), welcomed Dr. Hayden.
“One of the highlights of the Centennial year for the Women’s National Book Association is the awarding of the WNBA Award to two outstanding women in the book world,” said Kinney-Denning. (Louise Erdrich, the award-winning author and owner of Birchbark Books & Native Arts in Minnesota, won the second WNBA award this year.) “The WNBA community is grateful for the work you have done and proud of your accomplishments as Librarian of Congress. I cannot think of a better person to receive the WNBA Award this year, as you are a role model and inspiration to many.”
Valerie Tomaselli, President, CEO, and CFO of MTM Publishing (and a M.S. in Publishing Advisory Board Member), and Rosalind Reisner also presented Dr. Hayden with a copy of Women In The Literary Landscape, the WNBA’s new work of nonfiction that commemorates women’s roles in writing, publishing, bookselling, and librarianship in the United States. The book was published by C&R Press in March in anticipation of the organization’s centennial.
Special guests included Hannah Bennett, the WNBA’s New York City President; Caitlin Morrow, the WNBA’s national membership chair and special markets coordinator at Macmillan; Mr. Roswell Encina, the Library of Congress’s Chief Communications Officer; and Ms. Colleen Hayden, Dr. Hayden’s mother, as well as other board members and volunteers from the New York City chapter. (Bennett and Morrow are graduates of the M.S. in Publishing program.)
When she received her award, Hayden looked at her mother before addressing the rest of the group. “She used to read with me,” said Hayden. “She’s one of my ‘cheer-oes.’ Thank you for allowing me to share this with my mom.”
Before serving as the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Hayden was the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the free public library system in Baltimore, Maryland. From 1991 to 1993, she was the deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library. In 1995, “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” (Library of Congress), she received the Librarian of the Year Award from Library Journal. From 2003 to 2004, she was also the president of the American Library Association.
With her award, Dr. Hayden joins Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, Pearl Buck, Barbara Bush, and Amy King, among other prestigious recipients. Congratulations, Dr. Hayden!