City library director one of 2 finalists for national post

Hayden would remain at Pratt if elected

November 24, 2001|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Enoch Pratt Free Library Director Carla D. Hayden is one of two finalists for the presidency of the American Library Association, the country's oldest and largest library organization, which is based in Chicago, her hometown.

Hayden was asked by the ALA to run for the 2003-2004 presidency, which comes with a budget of between $50,000 and $100,000.

While she would not receive a salary or need to step down from her post in Baltimore (which pays about $104,200 a year), the position demands some travel.

Hayden, 49, who has headed Baltimore's public library system since 1993, says she's been an active ALA member for 22 years. "It's been the primary voice for equal access and bridging the digital divide," she said.

The association's more than 63,000 members, mostly librarians, will vote by mail in March and April, and the results will be announced in May.

Hayden is running for a one-year term against Katina Strauch, head of collection development at the College of Charleston Libraries in South Carolina.

The mission of the American Library Association, according to its Web site, is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of information services and librarians.

Hayden said she is campaigning on issues such as preserving and improving children's services, and diversifying the profession.

As president, she would represent the association at federal hearings that help shape copyright laws, as well as attend two annual conferences, and act as a figurehead for the 125-year-old organization.

Hayden, who was named one of Maryland's Top 100 Women by Warfield's Business Record in 1996, will give a campaign speech to the ALA at its annual meeting in January in New Orleans.

Hayden has served as chairwoman of the association's Committee on Accreditation and Spectrum Initiative. She also is a member of the association's Black Caucus, the Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children.

Hayden was Library Journal"s Librarian of the Year in 1995 and is well-respected by colleagues across the nation, but she has been criticized locally for presiding over a system that closed two branches in 1997 and five of its remaining 26 neighborhood branches in September.

She has repeatedly said she had no choice but to close the five libraries -- the Dundalk, Fells Point, Gardenville, Hollins-Payson and Pimlico branches -- because her system has been operating with about $5.1 million less than requested from the city over a five-year period.

Hayden emphasized that she made efforts to move resources from closed branches into nearby school libraries, some of which had dismal collections.

Activists like Catherine Evans, president of the Friends of Govans Library, said their primary concern is making sure no more city libraries close. The mayor's spokesman, Tony White, has said that no other branches would be closed.

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