CLOSE

Carla Hayden Makes History as the New Librarian of Congress

Meet your new Librarian of Congress: Seven months after being nominated by the president, Carla Hayden was officially sworn in on Wednesday, September 14. She is both the first woman and the first African American to assume the title, The New York Times reports.

Another factor that makes Hayden a remarkable choice for Librarian of Congress is her experience as an actual librarian. The two men who held the job before her were historians, and before them many other Librarians of Congress had been scholars or writers.

Hayden has already racked up several impressive credentials over the course of her career, including chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library system, president of the American Library Association, and CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Part of what qualified her for the role in the eyes of the president, he said in a statement earlier this year, was her devotion “to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today's digital culture." She remarked after Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony that she'd liked to see more historical documents, like Rosa Parks's notes and letters, reach a wider audience through the power of the internet.

The previous Librarian of Congress, James Billington, ended his 28-year tenure in 2015 following criticism for his failure to properly adapt to evolving technology. Along with his nomination of Hayden, President Obama also signed a law reducing the office from a lifetime role to a 10-year term.

As Librarian of Congress, Hayden will be responsible for handling congressional relations, appointing staff members such as the national Poet Laureate, overseeing the Copyright Office, and many other duties that come with running the world’s largest library.

[h/t The New York Times]

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images
arrow
literature
Trash Collectors in Turkey Use Abandoned Books to Build a Free Library
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images

A stack of books abandoned on the sidewalk can be a painful sight for bibliophiles. But in Ankara, Turkey, garbage collectors are using books left to be discarded to build a free library. As CNN reports, their library of salvaged literature is currently 6000 titles strong.

The collection grew gradually as sanitation workers began saving books they found on their routes, rather then hauling them away with the rest of the city’s trash. The books were set aside for employees and their families to borrow, but eventually news of their collection expanded beyond the sanitation department. Instead of leaving books on the curb, residents started donating their unwanted books directly to the cause. Soon the idea arose of opening a full library for the public to enjoy.

Man reading book at shelf.
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images

With support from the local government, the library opened in the Çankaya district of Ankara in September 2017. Located in an abandoned brick factory on the sanitation department’s property, it features literature for children, resources for scientists, and books for English and French speakers. The space also includes a lounge where visitors can read their books or play chess. The loan period for books lasts two weeks, but just like at a regular library, readers are given the option to renew their tomes.

People reading books in a library.
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images

The experiment has proven more successful than anyone anticipated: The library is so well-stocked that local schools, prisons, and educational programs can now borrow from its inventory. The Turkish sanitation workers deserve high praise, but discarded book-loving pioneers in other parts of the world should also get some recognition: For decades, José Alberto Gutiérrez has been using his job collecting garbage to build a similar library in Colombia.

[h/t CNN]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
fun
Los Angeles Libraries Letting Young Readers Work Off Late Fees By Reading More
iStock
iStock

Though you’re more likely to catch today’s kids with their faces buried in a smartphone as opposed to a book, libraries in the Los Angeles area are doing their part to give kids every opportunity to fall in love with reading. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Los Angeles County has introduced some new measures to help kids discover a love of reading, including working with the local school systems to automatically sign every student up for a library card, eliminating late fees for anyone under the age of 21, and allowing youngsters who currently have any overdue book fees to pay off these balances by reading more.

Leilany Medina, an 11-year-old aspiring librarian, was one of the first kids in the area to take advantage of the new policies. Last week, she turned up at the East Los Angeles Library to “read off” her $4 balance.

"You tell them you'll read and they'll sign you in and you start," Medina, who is in fifth grade, told the Los Angeles Times. “When your head starts losing the book you can stop reading and they tell you how much money they took away.”

The program, which kicked off in June, allows young patrons to work off $5 of fees per hour of reading and has already seen tremendous results. According to Darcy Hastings, the county's assistant library administrator for youth services, the library system has already managed to reinstate 3500 previously blocked accounts because of its new “Read Away” policy. (Any account owing $10 or more in fees is automatically suspended.) Though it might not seem like a ton of money, owing even just a few dollars can be enough to dissuade a child from tapping the library as a resource for learning.

"When charges accrue on a young person's account, generally, they don't pay the charges and they don't use the card," Hastings said. "A few dollars on their accounts means they stop using library services."

Aleah Jurnecka, the children’s librarian at East L.A. Library, says that they’re seeing at least 100 students per week come in to "Read Away" their fees—and Medina is a prime example. Though she, too, loves computer games and uses the internet for homework, her voracious love of reading makes her stand out among her peers.

"She's using some words at home that other kids her age don't know if they're using tablets and not building their vocabulary," Yeimi Cortez, Medina’s cousin, told the Los Angeles Times.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios