Librarian of Congress Visits the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

On June 30, the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies hosted a visit from Dr. Carla Hayden, our nation’s current Librarian of Congress.

Dr. Hayden holds a groundbreaking place in library history, as she is the first woman and first African-American to hold the Librarian’s office. She is also the first professional librarian to hold the post in over sixty years.

Dr, Hayden was accompanied by U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-AR) on a guided tour of the exhibition “Education in Exile.” Dr. Hayden and Congressman Hill met with Butler Center staff  as well as staff from UALR’s Center for Arkansas History and Culture.

Tour of Student-Curated Exhibition on Japanese Internment Camp in Arkansas

The exhibition “Education in Exile” reveals the experience of young Japanese students who were incarcerated during World War II at the Rohwer Relocation Center in Rohwer, Arkansas.  After wartime paranoia cast all people of Japanese heritage as the “enemy,” eight thousand Japanese Americans were confined in the Rohwer camp by the US government. Over one hundred thousand people of Japanese heritage were confined in camps nationwide.

The exhibition was curated by middle school students in Arkansas who selected each work of art and wrote down their thoughts about the internment camps. Those student reflections are now displayed beside the artwork, along with autobiographical writings from the young Japanese-American students who were held in the camps.

Kim Sanders, the Exhibition Interpreter, explained the exhibits to Dr. Hayden and Congressman Hill.

Many other library staff members and scholars gathered for the opportunity to shake Dr. Hayden’s hand and thank her for the inspiration she provides  to other librarians.


 Center Offers Assistance to Trace Family History

Dr. Hayden’s mother, Colleen Hayden, was born in Helena, Arkansas and accompanied the Librarian of Congress on her trip to Arkansas, though Mrs. Hayden could not be present at the Butler Center tour.

Keeping the Librarian’s mother in mind, Rhonda Stewart, Genealogy and Local History Specialist, mentioned the Butler Center’s genealogy resources and offered assistance to help trace the Hayden family history. Dr. Hayden responded with enthusiasm, saying that her mother would be very pleased.

Throughout her visit, Dr. Hayden stopped frequently to greet all researchers and staff members, giving them her undivided attention as she asked about their work.

Dr. Hayden’s assistant, Elizabeth Torkelson, said that the Librarian of Congress tours different regions of the country four to six times a year. She recently visited Ohio and Michigan as well as attending the 30th Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture.


CALS Leaders Meet the Nation’s “First Librarian”

Nate Coulter, Executive Director of the Central Arkansas Library System, was on hand to greet Dr. Hayden and U.S. Rep. Hill. Also pictured are David Stricklin, Director of the Butler Center, and Glenn Whaley, Assistant Director.