tv Conversation with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden CSPAN September 17, 2016 1:30pm-2:16pm EDT
regulates in a content-based way or a content-neutral way, that does make a difference to the justices. so going back to the communist example in the 1950s, the government was discriminating against communist expression, and it was, you know, these were laws that we pretty clearly look at today and say, yeah, those were content-based, the court should have looked at them more strictly. the court didn't look at it that way in the 1950s, so the government won a lot of those cases. after 1972 when they settle on content neutrality, the justices start to look a lot more strictly at anything that discriminates on the basis of subject matter, content, the idea of the message that's expressed. so it's always interesting to think about how does the first amendment apply to new situations and new types of expression, and so one of the recent cases that the court has looked at, citizens united involved this nonprofit group that wanted to both run ads and
sell on cable tv this production they came up with called hillary: the movie, about hillary clinton. and the bipartisan campaign reform act said that because citizens united was a nonprofit corporation, they were limited in how much they could spend in the days leading up to an election. and and so, basically, this group i sued and said you're discriminating against us. we're not able to offer our message because of the bipartisan campaign reform act. now, the court ruled in their favor by a 5-4 decision. and it was a very close decision and, obviously, hugely controversial. but one of the things that the justices in the majority said is that you can't discriminate against the viewpoint of a nonprofit corporation in this sense, you can't reticket them from getting -- restrict them
from getting their message out. however, the justices in the dissent said that, you know, we put these type of restrictions in effect before going back all the way to buckley v. vallejo. it's not that we're keeping either nonprofit or any corporations from participating in politics, it's just that if they're going to do it, they need to do it through a political a action committee. and so for the dissenting justices, they felt that even within the framework of content neutrality, that the bipartisan campaign reform act was narrowly today houred to prevent -- tailored to prevent corruption and to prevent that distortion of the marketplace of ideas without restricting too much expression because corporations still had that outlet of going through political action committees to get involved. it's definitely the case that the supreme court is always going to take some tough cases, right? the easy cases don't need to go to the supreme court. and so what we tend to see is the court taking some very
cutting-edging type of issues, right? -- cutting-edge type of issues. what about lying about military honors, what about freedom of expression on internet, different areas like that where they're continually forced to kind of evolve and apply their doctrines and their jurisprudence to new areas. and so overall, i would say today there is a pretty strong embrace of this framework of content neutrality but, again, content neutrality is not a straitjacket. it's just a framework, and different judges and supreme court justices can apply it differently and sometimes come to different conclusions in part, again, because they are motivated by their political values or their attitudes. >> for more information on booktv's recent visit to grand rapids and the many ore destinations -- many other destinations on our cities tour, go to c-span.org/citiestour.
>> this week carla hayden was sworn in as the 14th librarian of congress. she's the first woman and the first african-american to hold the position. [applause] >> in 1815 as senator blount just mentioned, thomas jefferson sold most of his library to congress, partly because he was a patriot, but mostly because he was broke. [laughter] the british had burned the original library of congress when they invaded washington the year before, and though a later fire destroyed most of jefferson's books, we still have some of them. they make up the heart of the library that we have here today. jefferson, as you know, was a very, very unique man. other people arranged their books alphabetically or by size. he divided his library into three sections that corresponded with the three main faculties of the mind; memory, reason and imagination. and when you stop to think about it, those are the very same
qualities that define dr. hayden. first, as a librarian herself she has the institutional memory necessary to run the largest library in the world. that's a long way of saying she's a pro. [laughter] she knows what she's doing. second, she understands the need to bring the library into the digital age. we have millions of documents that almost nobody knows a thing about. it would be a shame if they were lost to the world out of mere inconvenience. but it's that third quality, imagination. that's what i think is so important. we all think of america as this great land of promise, the place where people from all walks of life can get their start whether they're farming the frontier or working in a factory. but the public library itself is the icon of opportunity. it's a safe haven where people can go to learn and to feed
their ever-hungry imagination. i think of the writer james baldwin. james baldwin, as a young man, would go the to the library and read every book he could get his hands on. when he was done, he'd bring books home with him, and there he'd be, holding a younger sibling in one arm and a book in the other. what would have happened to james baldwin if there had been no public library? a great mind would have been starved of its essential material. nobody knows this better than dr. hayden. she was widely praised for keeping open her library during baltimore's unrest last year. but for her, it was the only real choice, the obvious thing to do. and she really seems to come from really sturdy stock. one day when her 82-year-old mom, when she told her mom that she was heading to the library which was right in the middle of all this chaos, all this trouble, her mother replied, oh, make sure you have some coffee.
[laughter] our next librarian is an accomplished woman, and i have every confidence that she is going to make us all very, very proud. jefferson once said i cannot live without books. neither can we. the library of congress is our national treasure, and with dr. hayden at the helm, i know it is in excellent hands. congratulations. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the chief justice of the united states, the honorable john roberts, to administer the oath of office. please also welcome dr. hayden's mother, mrs. colleen hayden. [applause]
>> please raise your right hand and repeat after me. i, carla hayden, do solemnly swear. >> i, carla hayden, do solemnly swear -- >> that i will support and defend the constitution of the united states. >> that i will support and defend the constitution of the united states. >> against all enemies, foreign and domestic. >> against all enemies, foreign and domestic. >> that i will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. >> that i will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. >> that i take this obligation freely -- >> that i take this obligation freely -- >> without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. >> without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. >> and that i will well and faithfully discharge --
>> and that i will well and faithfully discharge -- >> the duties of the office on which i am about to enter. >> the duties of the office about which i am about to enter. >> so help me god. >> so help me god. [laughter] [applause] [cheers and applause] >> recently, booktv sat down with the new librarian of congress, carla hayden, to talk about her life, career and her vision for the library.
c-span: dr. carla hayden, can you remember the first moment that you were asked about being the librarian of congress? >> guest: i can remember that moment because i was surprised. i had been advising and consulting because this was an opportunity for the library community to weigh in, basically, on what would be needed for the library of congress going into the next few decades. so my name was put forward as a person that they should talk to. and that went on for a little while, and then i was asked would you consider being considered for the position yourself? and it took me back a little bit. and i had to then think about what i was currently doing.
really public service in a state that had the public library be the state library -- c-span: baltimore. >> guest: baltimore and maryland. so this was a situation, and i had become a baltimorean and was really working on so many issues, and i had to think how can i go from serving a community to serving the country? and what contribution could i make. and -- c-span: why did you say yes? >> guest: because when i really thought about the treasures and what's contained in the library of congress and what i had been privy to as a librarian and what i knew was contained here and how excited i always am when -- i love history.
and so to be able to share that with more people, was really turning point for me that it's not just administering and doing something for the world's largest library, but it's an opportunity to make that library everyone's library. and that's, that service at the, i think, highest level. and, in fact, that's how the opportunity was presented to me, would you serve as the next librarian of congress. and that's when it all came together for me. c-span: so when you first came to the library as the nominee, did you say to somebody here i want to see that? [laughter] and what was it, if you did. >> guest: i wanted to see abraham lincoln's life mask.
i had seen it years before, and i was mistakenly telling people all those years that i had seen his death mask. all right? [laughter] and then i found out, no to, it wasn't. he -- it was actually a rendering that he had four months before he was assassinated, and it was a life mask. and so i wanted to see that item again with the understanding that when that mask was cast, he was alive. and that was a moment. because my family's from illinois, i have a couple of personal book shelves on lincoln -- [laughter] and i grew up with lincoln lore. my family is bury in the same cemetery that lincoln is buried in in springfield, and so that really resonated with me. c-span: what's the thing you like most about abraham lincoln? >> guest: his integrity and his
struggle to -- and i loved reading more about, because the fact that he didn't come to some of these things that we admire so much about him now as easily as we thought. that he had difficulties in his personal life. i mentioned springfield. we visited lincoln's home on a regular basis, and so to think about what was going on in that home and what he -- he lost a child and all of these things, that there was a human behind this person that did so much. and i think that's what draws a lot of people to lincoln and what he accomplished. c-span: there is a book in your past called "bright april. ". >> guest: yes. c-span: what was the book and what year did you read it? >> guest: you notice that when you even mention the title, i
said, ah. that, i was about -- and now this is where i talk about my age -- [laughter] c-span: you don't have to give that away. >> guest: oh, but i was about 7 or 8, and so that was about 1961 or so, and i went to grammar school in jamaica queens, and right across the street was a storefront library. and i can't remember if a librarian gave me the book or anything like that, but i just know that somehow this book, "bright april" by marguerite deangeli, was put in my hands. and be it featured a little african-american girl who was a brownie. and at that time i was a brownie. she had two pigtails, and the beautiful water color pictures and illustrations showed a loving family, there was a piano
in the living room, there was a thanksgiving dinner, all of these things that just spoke to me as a child. to see myself reflected in a book -- and i thought i looked like her. now that i look at the book, she was a little prettier -- [laughter] but it just meant so much to see what i thought reflected and later when i started as a children's librarian, i thought about and worked with -- and we still are working on diversity in children's books -- that children need books to have windows on the world, and we all talk about that a lot, to let them see something else. but they also need to see -- it needs to be a mirror. they need to see themselves. if we want them to think that books are important and books hold knowledge, if you don't see yourself in this important thing, what is that telling you?
c-span: how did -- you were born in tallahassee? >> guest: yes. c-span: lived in queens -- >> guest: yes. c-span: grew up in the chicago area? >> guest: yes. c-span: how did all that happen? >> guest: well, it's interesting. i think we talked about my parents being musicians, and so my father was the, he started the string department at florida a&m university, and that's in tallahassee, florida. so i was born there. and then when i was about 5 or so, he always liked -- he played classical music, but he liked jazz too. and there was -- i love jazz, so classical by day and jazz by night. and he connected with another musician in a musical family, the atterly family. he was down in tallahassee too. so off they go to new york with my mom, who's this classically
trained pianist, and me. and the next thing you know, i'm at birdland sitting on a, the stool in the front having shirley temples while miles davis and the group were will. and that was -- were there. and that was quite an experience. but my parents divorced when i was 10. i think my mom -- that was just a little too much. [laughter] so then we moved back to illinois. c-span: by the way, your mom's very much with us -- >> guest: yes. c-span: i want to know what she said to you when you called her and said i'm going to be the librarian of congress. >> guest: the first thing she said was your grandmother was right. my grandmother always said as i progressed in the career of librarianship, i never thought being a librarian would lead to this. my nickname was squirrel. [laughter] i liked books b i she never --
good, she's going to be a librarian. she has no musical talent. [laughter] that's good. but she was still amazed. and be to think that -- and to think that my love of books and all of this turned into something, that required her to hold the lincoln bible and have me sworn in was something. c-span: now that you brought it up, it's sitting right there on the table, lincoln bible. >> guest: still gives me chills. and, in fact, my mother was very nervous about holding the lincoln bible. it symbolizes so much to not only our family, but just what it meant. she was very nervous about that because you're touching history. and this is something that touched -- a person used that
you respect so much, and that connect -- and i have to say that's something that i hope that in my tenure i'll be able to do even more of, to connect people with history, to touch history, digitally and to make sure that they understand that these were real people. c-span: how much do you read? >> guest: probably a little too much because i have matured. my eyesight has matured. [laughter] so i require stronger lenses. and i'm a reader that will read just about anything that has text, a cereal box -- [laughter] a sign or something like that. i connect it, and it took me years to the really realize that i was, i connected with text same way my parents connected with notes, with notation.
and one day i said, wow, they can look at notes and hear music, and i can look at text and hear words. and it's almost the same thing. c-span: where do you read? >> guest: i -- well, i just now have a balcony where i can sit out, and i found a reading spot and a chair, and i read in bed, and i can read at a table or, but so usually i can tell when i'm very tired, if i can't read in bed. that's the signal. c-span: now, when folks found out that i was going to be talking with you, i think three people -- three different people, for whatever reason, want to know are you going to continue to live in baltimore and commute to washington. >> guest: yes. c-span: how big a deal is that? that's, what, how big a commute is that? >> guest: it's 35 miles. and i think because i'm from the midwest, mileage is viewed in a different way.
you have to go 35 miles to go from one end of chicago to the other end, and in the southern parts of illinois, going from danville to champagne to do something is not unusual. so i think that's -- so i will stay in baltimore because baltimore has really become home. c-span: how many years? >> guest: i've been there now 23 years, and my mother has moved from illinois to baltimore. sometimes i joke it's a place where everybody knows your name, and i'm looking forward to being a civilian in baltimore. but it's a city that really grabs you. it's a city with so many characters. ann tyler was there when you read about, when you read her books, you get a sense of don waters. there's so many characters there
because it nurtures creativity and caring, i think. c-span: if you have to make a choice, would you rather read fiction or nonfiction? >> guest: oh, now, that's a hard choice. however, i would go for nonfiction. i love history. now, i can read wolf hall and all those things because -- anne boleyn and all that, but i'd really like to read things like "the queen's bed" which is about, it's about queen elizabeth i and all the intrigue around that. so history can sometimes be more exciting, i think, than fiction. c-span: over time what's been a couple of books in the history, nonfiction category that you really liked? >> guest: doris kerns goodwin's "no ordinary time." i really connect with eleanor roosevelt.
i went to roosevelt university, the only school that was founded by eleanor roosevelt, public service, all of that -- c-span: in chicago. >> guest: -- in chicago. and so to read doris kearns with history, it's like reading fiction. and that's the best type of history writing sometimes. and so that book -- i heard her speak at the library, got the book, read it that night, and i could hear her speaking. c-span: all about fdr in the white house. >> guest: fdr in the white house, it made you want to know which room was where and all this, and it just was, wow. c-span: when did you first meet michelle and barack obama? >> guest: in chicago. i was working at, i had left the university of pittsburgh, i was teaching, and there have been certain points in my life where i've had to make decisions about do i continue in the academic and then go back to public
service and that, so this was one of those times. and i had arrived back in chicago from pittsburgh to be the deputy commissioner, chief librarian of the chicago public library where i started. and the first lady was michelle robinson then working with the city administration. and so that's when i met her and then, later, her fiance. and so that was something years later, to meet in a professional setting in different roles. c-span: how important do you think that connection way back then in chicago head to your choice as the librarian? >> guest: i'm not sure if it led to the choice. i think it made, it was probably one of the most ironic things -- [laughter]
to have a name put forward from a search that you say carla, yeah, she's still a librarian, isn't she? [laughter] so, but i had been part of a board, the institute, the museum of library services. so my name has been part of the professional library setting -- c-span: you say you went to roosevelt university in chicago, you got an m.a. and a ph.d. at university of chicago -- >> guest: yes. library school. c-span: what was your dissertation about? >> guest: it was about serving young people in museums. i was working at the museum of science and industry in chicago, and i was working to open the first public service library in a science museum in the country. and that was really interesting because most museum libraries aren't open to the public.
they're for the curators and the educators, and here you're going to, you know, open up a library. it wasn't a lending library, but you're going to let these visitors come in, and what were they going to do. so that got me really interested in not only special libraries, but also museums. and so i took some courses and things and really started visiting museums. basically, what i was saying at that time in the '80s is that libraries, public libraries in particular, needed to use some of the methods that museums use to engage young people; the boston children's museum, all of these museums. and now you can go into public libraries all over the country and see play areas and see not just books, but things as well. c-span: all right. a baltimore resident said to me this day when i said i was coming over to interview you,
she was terrific in baltimore with doing the kind of things you're just talking about there, the community stuff. trying to -- movie night. there's a fundraiser, i guess, black and white every year? >> guest: ah, young people dancing and theme-related in the library and connecting books and beer and all of that. yes, it's quite something. c-span: so when you went to baltimore 23 years ago, e knock pratt library, what is it, how many different branches, what did you do there that you were the most proud of? >> guest: in library school we studied the enoch pratt be free library. it was an innovative library for years starting with mr. pratt. when he established it, he was a philanthropist/business person in baltimore at a time when the city was growing, and he picked the free library to fund.
and he said my library shall be for all, rich or poor, without distinction of race or color. and that was in the 1886 in a city that had racial challenges. and so when i had the opportunity to go to the pratt library, i didn't know as much as baltimore, but i knew the pratt library. so then i learned baltimore then. so there are now 21 branches, and everywhere i would go in baltimore people would have a pratt library story. people from all walks of life. they'd name their branch. and so what i'm most pleased about is that over the time i've been there we've revitalized those branch libraries, and we actually constructed the first new library in that city in 35 years. that's a lifetime.
and we even had all of the senior staff members bring in a photograph of themselves at either 5-10 years old, and we made a poster so that when we meet, we'd say what would a child now say 35 years from now about -- what pratt stories are we making. .. >> and to make the library less intimidating especially for
people with challenges with literacy. it's the last place you want to go if you can't read well is the library. that the public's perception. so perception. so bringing in others, bringing in popular programs, that's a way to start getting adults in and letting them know it is a safe place for you whatever level you're coming in at. >> is you came into the library of congress, 3200 and hundred and place? >> s. >> 600 million-dollar budget? >> yes. >> what's the first thing you said, i want to change this. >> guest: it wasn't so much changing but keep it moving forward. there is a wonderful book, a management book that i think about often about change. when you are changing or helping something move called teaching
the elephant to dance. now i know there are some things we have to be careful but the sinking of a ship and how do you get it to move or be knebel and things like that. so i really am excited about working with the staff members at the library of congress. they are really in this crackerjack, dedicated and helping to be part of that. this library has changed in so many ways with time. >> c-span: do you come here under the new law that a library and can only serve for ten years the last library and jim served for almost 30 years. good idea that they shorten it? spee2 there have have been other librarians that have served even longer, 48 years i think was
one. so different times in the library's history, ten years have been longer or shorter, you've had lawyers, politicians, scholars, authors, along the way. i think at this point when there are so many opportunities but also challenges with technology, and things are moving so rapidly , to give an opportunity and say step back and say where are we in ten years or what you hope to have accomplished in ten years. that would be something. so i think it is healthy to look at an institution at different periods of time. >> c-span: how much was that today? >> guest: i'm not sure. that is what even though i've
just been sworn in and i'm still investigating i want to really get in the weeds with that and look and also i know that there are a number of collections, for instance rosa parks collection was just digitized. to work with the staff and say how many things are available online. how many things are in the queue? i'm pretty sure there are number things in a number of collections that are ready. to see if we can match some of those collections and those needs with the potential donors it would help with the process. >> c-span: this is a question for somebody's never been to the library of congress and does not have a clue as to what they can see or do.
i know a fun thing that i got my first library of congress card. >> guest: people don't know that. >> c-span: what would you suggest to someone who is intimidated by three big buildings. and when you think about this temple of knowledge and information, it looks like a massive tower of information and we encourage people to come in, that's actually something i'm going to be working on quite soon is to make sure the public knows that not only can they come in and see one of the only three copies of the gutenberg bible, they can see thomas jefferson's original library that help start a library of congress at a crucial time, to really reach out to the public and let them know that it's difficult task to put it in one
type of thing so we'll be really working to say when you walk into the library what can you do. there is a young reader center, you can go into that and if you have lot young people. you can go into the music department is the sheet sheet music from decades and hundreds of years ago. now that's a challenge. i think we need librarians to say read more about it, i want the american public in particular to know more about it, to know more. it's congresses. it's congresses library but it's also america's library. >> to say somebody is watching this and i want them to be able to walk in somewhere in this library system and say, doctor carla hayden told me to come here and ask you how to see what i want to see. where would you send them? >> guest: the first thing a person should do is go up to a wonderful information desk and talk to the person who is there, and there will be a person there
in the jefferson building they can also go into the madison building and there is an adams building. so you notice there's a theme with the presidents. and they can say i am interested in those films, i am interested in bob hope. i'm interested in this information you have about rosa parks. i'm interested in finding out something about my family's history. i am visiting from iowa. and i understand that you have newspapers that go back, i'm trying to find my great-grandfather. that when they go to that information there's a big sign, information that's where you go. that is your first point of contact. then that person will tease out of you what you need and they'll make that connection to this vast resource that is here and
even and other places. >> c-span: let's say they can't travel here but you have all this digitized already online, how do do you figure out what is there? >> guest: that is where the power of technology really helps. the library's website should be able to direct you almost in the same way. so you're going to search, you, you will type in what you are looking for and you will get a response on the screen. here's another of getting in the weeds, aspects that i am excited about, making, making sure that website is just as responsive almost as you talking to a person and getting that, people will will not get in the technology wilderness. >> at your confirmation hearing, the subject of the congressional research service came up and there seems to be a quiet movement afoot that the public ought to see the products that
700 people in the congressional resource members produce for members of congress. what you think? have you? have you studied that anymore since your confirmation? >> guest: is a library we have all know that the congressional research service and it is the library of congress that's how it started to serve congress it is like the special forces of the library. there are analysts, librarians, specialists in different areas that prepare research, nonpartisan research and analysis for the members of congress to inform their work. and the reports are available by request from a particular member, so if you know someone is working on something and i think that i have heard different aspects of how much of the information and when the
information should be ready or available to the public so that is an area that i think is still being looked at as there is quite a bit of research that goes into forming a report. >> c-span: let's say a member of congress calls up the research services and said i need a report on the b-52 bomber. what is your personal instinct, once that report was supplied to the members should that be in the public domain? >> guest: i'm not sure. and that, i am really going to be in the weeds with some of these aspects because that is a complex issue in terms of what was it prepared for? what is it informing, and i think working with congress on it because it is going to be a congressional decision to find
out how the members are really looking at what the congressional research service provides to them and i have already been in contact with some members about how do we look at this issue and really look at it in a way that will benefit congress and the people they serve. >> c-span: what is your sense of having talked to members of congress about the future of the budget for a place like this? >> guest: i must tell you that the most one of the most pleasant parts of the entire confirmation and nomination process has been meeting with members and really getting a sense of their sincere appreciation for the library of congress. a lot of them are interested in history, they can borrow books and they do.
they're interested in the workings of a library and i think there is a lot of support for the library. >> host: is it enough support given this fiscal time that were in. >> guest: i'm hoping that it will translate and that is why i'm excited about working with the members and already i have gotten an indication that they see the value of the library and appreciate it. so that is a a very good position to be in as you are in an environment where there are fiscal checks and balances, needs and things like that. doesn't seem to be much of a dispute of the value of the library's before i have a political question. were approved overwhelmingly, however my memory is that you have a think 14 republicans that voted against your confirmation.
>> guest: i think that might be true. >> c-span: what was the reason? >> guest: what i understand is there may have been concerned about some of my professional affiliations and the stands that librarians as a group have taken specifically in that segment because i was heading up a professional organization. i was representing 55000 members. when you agree to be the representative you are the spokesperson for the group and i'm a card carrying member of the library association. so that was an honor for me. it also puts you in a different arena in terms of being the
spokesperson for particular views. i think there is some concern that in the role that is not representing a profession that i might still have strong views about certain things. >> were talking about the patriot act, and making sure that people can get information freely without interference and things like that. >> are you comfortable the way the law is now in the patriot act? >> guest: and the profession is comfortable. basically their their concerns were heard and there is a consciousness that in the balance of security you have to have that balance with personal liberty. it was a pretty difficult time when the act was enacted.
>> c-span: i want you to give your time back in a second. before we close i want to ask to define what a librarian is beyond the obvious and why do people that are library in feel so strongly about their profession? >> guest: we like to say that the librarians are the original search engines. that librarians are people who help other people get the information, the resources, even the entertainment and you mentioned fiction that they need for their lives or they may wants and that they can help them distinguish for instance health information but they can also tell them what the latest novel is by your favorite author or a particular thing they can open up