A friend recently sent me a photo of a poster hanging on the wall of her local public library announcing that once a month, children are invited to practice reading to a therapy dog. There’s your “aww” for the day! Reading has the ability to build confidence, inspire camaraderie, broaden our imaginations and, of course, educate.
But formal education used to be an opportunity afforded only to men—because we all know a smart woman can be a dangerous thing. But there are plenty of resilient women throughout history who refused to be oppressed by this philosophy. Notable ladies like Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edith Wharton and first lady Abigail Adams self-educated with books from their fathers’ libraries.
Today, let’s give thanks to all those women who broke the rules and were a force for women’s education, and with that in mind, pick up that half-read book from three years ago and give it another go.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 162 Million
Poet Sylvia Plath once said she would never be able to read all the books she wanted in life, a sentiment I totally get! With all the world’s dizzying array of novels, reference books, memoirs, coffee-table books and anthologies, there’s simply no way to read them all in a lifetime. For instance, there are 162 million books and other educational items in the Library of Congress alone, which is just bananas! But given that it’s the largest library in the whole world, that seems about right. To read all of them, you’d have to read an entire book about every second, and that’s starting from birth. So, good luck with that!
WOMAN TO WATCH: Carla D. Hayden, First Woman and First African-American Librarian of Congress
The reason we’re talking today about the world of books and the Library of Congress is because we want to share some incredible news: Carla D. Hayden was recently confirmed as the first woman and the first African-American Librarian of Congress. She’s also the first professional librarian elected to the post in more than 60 years. Yep, she’s a pretty big deal!
Of course, the Library of Congress is an honored historical institution, but if you scroll through the list of past librarians to head this esteemed center of knowledge, dating back to 1802, when the position was first established, you’ll see it’s been one white dude after another.
As the Librarian of Congress, Carla is responsible for overseeing the entire library and its contents, managing congressional relations, supervising administrative work and appointing staff to some important positions, including the poet laureate, aka the nation’s official poet. Carla also manages budgets and legal services for the library, and oversees the U.S. Copyright Office. It’s clearly a ton of responsibility, but as a respected librarian with more than four decades of library experience, she’s definitely the perfect fit for the job.
What’s so special about Carla, aside from her impressive resume, is her vigor for incorporating digitization, bringing libraries into the modern age. She’s even on Twitter! When you’re in a profession that has historically been all about paper, it can be challenging to accept the digital ways in which we consume media, but Carla isn’t afraid to shake things up in order to bring knowledge to the people.
Prior to her impressive new gig, Carla was long the CEO of Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, and was the president of the American Library Association. Recently, she was awarded the ALA’s 2017 Melvil Dewey Medal for creative leadership of high order in the library sciences.
Since more than 80 percent of librarians in the United States are women, Carla serves as the pinnacle role model for bookish girls everywhere. We’re so excited to see how Carla will shape the future of our nation’s most important library, and we’re pretty sure her name will go down in the history books!
QUITE THE QUOTE
I’ll send you off today with an enlightened quote from novelist Neil Gaiman. He said:
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.