BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
In addition to being our country’s number one librarian as Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden books several other firsts: first woman and first African American to head the largest library in the world, as well as first professional librarian to receive the Newberry Library’s highest award.
A native Chicagoan, Carla began her career with the Chicago Public Library. Only the second librarian to head The Library of Congress, she was delighted to introduce her mother to the audience who cheered when President David Spadafora said that it was about time for Carla to be at the helm.
David Hilliard, Chair of the Board of Trustees, presented the Newberry Library Award, given for her outstanding contributions to the humanities. The annual gala supporting the Newberry’s collections and programs had a change of venue—usually held in the library’s venerable reading rooms, this year the Spertus Institute overlooking Grant Park was the destination.
Earlier in the day, Carla and David Spadafora put on hard hats to tour the exciting renovations at the Newberry, constructed 125 years ago by Henry Ives Cobb. A grand opening in late September will reveal a welcome center, new galleries, exhibition spaces, seminar rooms, and an expanded bookstore, among other ways that will make the august landmark more accessible and user friendly.
Carla remarked, “I was so excited to see the Newberry’s first floor renovation plans because we are planning to do the same thing at the Library of Congress to encourage people to engage with the collection and with the staff.”
Chung-Kyun, Robert Wedgworth, and Sheli and Burton Rosenberg, along with David Spadafora, served as award dinner co-chairs. Commttee members included Julie and Roger Baskes, Suzette and Ally Bulley, Joseph Gramacki, Victoria Herget and Robert Parsons, Celia and David Hilliard, Jeanine and Sandy McNally, Janis and John Notz, Jean Perkins and Leland Hutchinson, Christine and Michael Pope, Liz Stiffel, and Michele and Pete Willmott.
David Spadafora congratulated Carla “for opening up the treasure chest which is the Library of Congress for all people,” which contains over 162 million items including books, photographs, manuscripts, maps, and movies. She responded, “If the Library of Congress’s collections are not used, and we are not growing scholars and engaging new people, we will become a mausoleum.”