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Carla Hayden discusses being first woman and African-American to serve as Librarian of Congress

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Highlights

  • Carla Hayden on being the first woman and African-American to be Librarian of Congress: "Both of those mean quite a bit to me personally and professionally."
  • On her legacy: "It's really interesting when you see the names engraved in marble at the Thomas Jefferson building. You see 'Daniel,' and 'John,' and 'Archibald,' and then you see 'Carla.' It's like, one of these is not like the other."
  • On women in leadership in libraries: "Librarianship is one of the four feminized professions - nursing, social work, education and librarianship - where about 85 to 90% of the workforce is female. However, the top management doesn't always reflect that."
  • On the accessibility of the Library of Congress: "It's not just for 'scholars.' It's for people who are curious. People who want to create or learn." 

In 2016, Carla Hayden became the 14th Librarian of Congress, overseeing the vast collection of the Library of Congress, the world's largest library. Hayden is the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position, an honor which she does not take lightly.

"Both of those mean quite a bit to me personally and professionally," Hayden told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast. "It's really interesting when you see the names engraved in marble at the Thomas Jefferson building. You see 'Daniel,' and 'John,' and 'Archibald,' and then you see 'Carla.' It's like, one of these is not like the other."

Hayden talked about how being a librarian is a very feminized role, but there aren't many women in leadership positions in libraries across the country.

"Librarianship is one of the four feminized professions — nursing, social work, education and librarianship - where about 85 to 90% of the workforce is female. However, the top management doesn't always reflect that," Hayden said.

Hayden added that personally, becoming Librarian of Congress was important to her given the country's history of slavery, and how slaves were prohibited from learning to read.

"Personally, being a person of color, it means so much because people who look like me were forbidden by law to learn to read," Hayden said. "That means so much that here is a person of color leading the world's largest library."

Hayden also discussed the "treasures untold" in the Library of Congress, such as the diaries of Clara Barton, the notes of George Gershwin and locks of Beethoven's hair.

"It's not just for 'scholars.' It's for people who are curious. People who want to create or learn," she said.

Hayden, who has been to 22 states in the last three and a half years, has tried to bring the resources of the Library of Congress to Americans across the country.

"People want that connection to something that is national and that can complement their local libraries," Hayden said.

For more of Major's conversation with Carla Hayden, download "The Takeout" podcast on  iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
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