Last evening, I had the great pleasure and privilege of attending an engagement entitled, “In Conversation: Dr. Carla Hayden + Tracy K. Smith”, held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The talk which was moderated by Kevin Young, the current director of the Schomburg Center, featured Dr. Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress, and Tracy K. Smith, the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States, who was appointed by Dr. Hayden in 2017. This was a great way to wind down National Poetry Month while tying it into the work that we do as librarians.
As an African-American male in the profession of librarianship, I felt a great sense of pride in the work being done at the highest levels. Dr. Hayden spoke very candidly of her job interview with President Obama. She spoke on how collaborations enable the acquisition of new collections and on the digitization of collections by the Library of Congress to continue making primary source materials accessible to the world. She also spoke on the featuring of a never before seen photo of Harriet Tubman at the Library of Congress in a March ceremony. During the hour-long event, Ms. Smith engaged us with several readings from her latest book of historical poetry entitled Wade in the Water, which drew inspiration from letters and other primary source material created from our country’s founding and beyond. I left the event feeling assured in my chosen field knowing there’s more work ahead.
Contributed by Donneer Missouri, Scholarly Communications Librarian, Midtown Library