Hayden has big shoes to fill at Library of Congress
In assessing the challenges that Carla Hayden will confront as the newly installed librarian of Congress, reporter Mary Carole McCauley omitted the many positive accomplishments of the previous librarian, James H. Billington (“New librarian of Congress Carla Hayden taking over organization in turmoil,” Sept. 14).
Let’s get the facts straight: Mr. Billington raised half a billion dollars to supplement congressional appropriations for the library’s collections and programs. He established the John Kluge Center and Prize, the Gershwin Prize, the Fiction Prize, the Veterans History Project, the Madison Council, the World Digital Library, American Memory, Congress.gov and more.
He also doubled the size of the library’s collections, re-created Thomas Jefferson’s original library and built the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center on a 45-acre site in Virginia. He transformed the historic Jefferson Building into a major international exhibition venue, undertook a mass de-acidification and digitalization of analog collections and sent library resources to rural America in a specially designed 18-wheeler truck. And that’s just for starters.
Billington brought the Rosa Parks collection (2015), along with many other treasures like the first map of America, to the Library of Congress. He launched the National Book Festival 16 years ago, whose million-plus visitors have included thousands from the Baltimore area.
Readers of The Sun deserve to know the facts and the truth about Mr. Billington’s impressive tenure at the Library of Congress. He is one of our nation’s greatest public servants who should be honored for his more than 40 years of dedicated, effective service to his country.