Cooperstown Symposium begins with keynote address from Librarian of Congress
The 30th Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and scheduled for May 30-June 1, has as its keynote speaker this year Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden.
Dr. Hayden’s talk is entitled, “Baseball Americana – Baseball in the Community”, will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30, in the Museum’s Grandstand Theater. Past keynote speakers have included Ken Burns, Marvin Miller, Roger Kahn and George Plimpton.
Dr. Hayden, sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress in September 2016 after being nominated for the position by President Barack Obama, is a trailblazer as the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library. Prior to her current position, she had served since 1993 as CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Md. Dr. Hayden was president of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004.
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“Dr. Hayden is the latest in a long line of illustrious keynote speakers for the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture,” said Hall of Fame Librarian Jim Gates, a co-coordinator of the event. “For our staff, it is an honor to have her visit the Hall of Fame Library and to participate in this program. Dr. Hayden is a great baseball fan, and the researchers from across the country who attend this event will enjoy having the chance to hear her presentation.”
Opening June 29 at the Library of Congress will be the new yearlong exhibition, “Baseball Americana,” which will explore baseball’s past and present and how the game has forged a sense of community for players and fans across the country.
Recently, in a telephone interview from her Washington, D.C. office, Dr. Hayden talked about her love of baseball and why an appreciation of history is important.
Hall of Fame:
What are your thoughts on being asked to deliver the keynote address at the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture?
Dr. Carla Hayden:
I’m honored and very overwhelmed in a way because in my childhood I wanted to be a shortstop. And you can see I’m a librarian now, so that didn’t work. I grew up spending summers with my grandparents in Springfield, Ill. My grandfather was a baseball fanatic. He would have two or three games going at the same time with the radios and one little black-and-white TV. And we would drive down, just the two of us, to see the St. Louis Cardinals. And when visiting teams would come that had notable black players like Willie Mays, that was a big deal because you were not only supporting your home team but you were seeing some of these legends. That was thrilling.
Have you been to Cooperstown before?
I’ve never been to Cooperstown, so I’m really looking forward to that.
Can you talk a little about the talk you are going to deliver at the Hall of Fame?
I think my love for baseball, the memories, and what it means in my own life. People from all walks of life have something in common with these memories and connections to baseball. There’s a unifying aspect.
And could you talk a little about the baseball exhibit opening at the Library of Congress in June?
I’ll be talking quite a bit about that, too, because the theme of the exhibit is really baseball as community. The invisible connection among fans through the decades and what it is that ties people together. The fact that you spend time together. Baseball is that type of game. And we’re opening it right around the time of the All-Star Game here in Washington.
Please give me a little thumbnail sketch about the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress has millions of items that range from original manuscripts in Mozart’s hand, the largest collection of comic books in the world, and the archives of the NAACP. The collections span not only American history but also the culture of the world. It’s quite a unique, universal collection.
How would describe your role with the Library of Congress?
I am the administrator of the organization. We have about 3,200 employees, three major buildings on Capitol Hill complex right across from the Capitol. And we have six overseas offices, so our mission is a worldwide collection. We collect in over 170 languages, so it’s quite extensive. It’s a national library for the country.