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Carla Hayden has an audacious plan to make Library of Congress available to you online

CNET spoke with Hayden about her massive effort to digitize the biggest library in the world.

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Ambitious doesn't begin to describe Carla Hayden's plan to make the Library of Congress' collection available to the world. Audacious may be closer to it. Hayden, the 14th person to steward the Library, wants to "throw open the treasure chest" by digitizing its vast collection and making it accessible online. The five-year plan's understated name -- Enriching the Library Experience -- doesn't capture its scope. Hayden wants people to engage with everything from the letters of Abraham Lincoln to early-edition Batman comics.

 

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Library of Congress Swear In

Carla Hayden is the first African American and first woman to serve as the Librarian of Congress. Among other tasks, she is in charge of the library's ongoing digitization efforts.

Tom Williams

 

Where are you in the digitization process? 
Hayden: The library has been digitizing its special collections for over 20 years. And we have made quite a bit of progress. For instance, in the past year, we've digitized more than 7.1 million items. Most of the things that we're putting online now have never been able to be digitized before. We've recently been putting up the collection of the baseball scout Branch Rickey, who wrote scouting reports for Ernie Banks and Henry "Hank" Aaron. When you put these things online, you are really expanding the reach. And so this is going to be a continuing effort because history never stops. And we are continually getting special collections. We just purchased the collection of the composer Billy Strayhorn, who was a partner with Duke Ellington. You know, Take the A Train and all that. And we're digitizing the Rosa Parks collection.

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