The Senate Just Confirmed A Historic Appointment

Photo: Courtesy of American Library Association.
Update: Carla Hayden was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, The Washington Post reports. She is the first woman and the first Black person to fill the role.

This story was originally published February 24, 2016.

President Obama made a historic nomination Wednesday.

No, it wasn't his much-anticipated pick for the Supreme Court (though news that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, could get the nod made many headlines).

The president announced that he's tapped Carla D. Hayden for the less visible, but still historic, role of Librarian of Congress.

“Dr. Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today's digital culture,” Obama said in an official White House statement.

As the statement points out, Hayden’s role could be an important first.

“If confirmed, Dr. Hayden would be the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position — both of which are long overdue," Obama said.

While not as flashy as the role of a Supreme Court justice, the Librarian of Congress has oversight over questions of fair use and the accessibility of information through technology. The Library of Congress includes the U.S. Copyright Office, which has the power to decide which media is publicly owned — which, in turn, has a huge effect on what's accessible in the age of the internet.

The Library controls the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), better known as “the law that you’re afraid of violating every time you pirate music.” The Library has the power to grant exemptions from the DMCA — exemptions that affect everyday activities, from your ability to unlock your cell phone to copying DVDs.

News of her nomination generated buzz across the Web, sending "Librarian of Congress" trending on Twitter.
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Like the eventual SCOTUS nominee, the position does have to be confirmed by the Senate. But as the president points out, Hayden has an impressive résumé. And as anyone who’s been to a library, ever, could point out — it never pays to annoy the librarian. Learn more about Hayden below.

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