CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A discovery of history and the need to read, two of the most critical aspects of a library were the message brought to Charleston by the woman in charge of the world’s largest library collection.

Dr. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, visited several locations including Huntington, the campus of West Virginia State University, and the Kanawha County Public Library on Thursday.

“What I’m trying to do as the Librarian of Congress is to let everybody know the world’s largest library that has ever existed is actually their library too,” said Hayden. “It’s the nation’s library too and they have that at their fingertips through the Internet. We hope they will find out about history so they can make history.”

The audiences she met could certainly play a key role in the nation’s future history. She visit the historic campus of West Virginia state and interacted with students there and eventually read to preschoolers in Kanawha County. Hayden was impressed.

“I just met a young lady who is 11 years old. She’s on her sixth Harry Potter book since Thanksgiving,” said Hayden. “She watches the movies and compares them to the books and I’m proud to say she likes the books better.”

If you haven’t been in a library recently, you may not recognize it. The hushed tones aren’t nearly as enforced and shelves have far fewer books than we remember from a generation ago. No longer are libraries book depositories.

“They are places where people connect to each other, connect to the world through technology, they’re places where people make things,” explained Hayden. “They are places where people can listen to authors, come together for book club and all sorts of activates. We like to say it’s not your grandmother’s library anymore, but she’s welcome.”

Hayden was most impressed by the plans for a new main branch of the Kanawha County public library and pledged her support and that of the Library of Congress to the effort. She was also excited about returning for a book week event this fall in Charleston.


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