Hayden has big shoes to fill at Li­brary of Congress

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Jimmy Kemp, Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

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.

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