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firsts

Congress confirms 14th librarian of Congress, and the first who isn't a white male

On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed President Obama's nominee for librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, by a vote of 74-18. Along with being the first woman and first black American to head the Library of Congress, Hayden is the first librarian to hold the position in six decades, according to the American Library Association. When Obama nominated Hayden in January, she was the chief executive of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library system, where she earned praise for modernizing the nation's oldest library system and keeping the libraries open during the Freddie Gray unrest in 2015, including personally opening the doors to the branch located in the heart of the turmoil.

Hayden earned a master's degree and doctorate from the University of Chicago's Graduate Library School then began her career as a children's librarian. She served as president of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004. In her new position, Hayden will be in charge of the Library of Congress' 162 million items. She will take over from acting librarian David Mao, who has kept the Library of Congress running since James Billington, appointed in 1987, stepped down last September. Hayden will be only the 14th person to hold the position, created in 1802, and her 10-year term will be renewable. President Obama tweeted out his congratulations to Hayden on Wednesday evening, and included a video so American could get to know its new librarian of Congress. Watch below. Peter Weber