Careers in Federal Libraries

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Category Archives: Guest Bloggers

CiFL is looking for guest bloggers

Are you a Federal Librarian or otherwise involved with the Federal Information field? Share your knowledge and wisdom with fellow Federal Information professionals and job seekers at

Possible topics include: social media in federal libraries, transitioning from a public or academic library to a federal library, resume and job advice for positions in federal libraries, and event reviews.

For more information and to submit your article ideas:

Alternately, you may also email us at with Guest Post in the subject line.


Event review: Unusual Opportunities to Enhance Your Resume”

Guest blog by

On Saturday, January 21st I attended an ALA Midwinter workshop called “Unusual Opportunities to Enhance Your Resume”, conducted in the ALA Joblist Placement Center. Tiffany Brand was the first speaker. She is an Information Services Professional that specializes in virtual reference, research assistance, and social media management. She communicated that one can find opportunities in the government if you are savvy in social media. She went on to offer a sort of tutorial on Twitter. I might she also is the manager for the Career in Federal Libraries twitter account as well as the co-manager for the CIFL FB page. Her level of expertise in understanding Twitter’s functions and how to make it work for you way beyond the average person. It was experience to learn from her. A couple cool tips I found very handed included:

1. She taught us how to find hashtags related to your job search: scan job ads for keywords: #online education, #library #jobs, Bureau of Labor. This would be in addition to using basic/advanced search websites such as, (which is a good way to check the frequency and popularity of a specific hashtag).

2. She introduced, which uses established hashtags, and is great for finding groups of people with similar interest: #alamw12

Also at the ALA Midwinter workshop called “Unusual Opportunities to Enhance Your Resume”, I got to hear Purdue Ph.D. student, Temitope (Temi) Toriola share about how she was able to network through ALA’s Emerging Leaders program. She joined the Ethics Committee, which relates to her research in information security or more specifically interest in digital intellectual property, e-book piracy, digital copyright, and the ethics behind it all. She said that it was because of her devoting time selflessly to accomplishing tasks for the Ethics Committee that she was referred to Nancy Faget, who offered her some valuable advice to consider if she was going on for her Ph.D. Nancy told her about the Federal Cyber Security Scholarship for Service: Temi not only got the scholarship, but she also got into Purdue University’s Information Securities program! Her success showed me the diverse set of career options that info. pros. have to choose from. She also mentioned that she interned with the Pentagon and that this experience also helped her to be successful.  She has a wiki and blogspot that is apart of graduate work that I’ll do a little plug for here, if you don’t mind: and Support this grad student by checking it out!

The ALA Midwinter workshop called “Unusual Opportunities to Enhance Your Resume” also had a speaker named Cindy Hirsch. She is law library fellow at the Daniel F. Cracchiolo Law Library at The University of Arizona’s College of Law. She came to speak to us about opportunities to become formal blog posters or guest posters for the Careers in Federal Libraries Blog:  www.

This a great chance for those of us that want careers in a federal library or other federal employment, to share information and help each other attain our professional goals. I think Cindy did a great job informing us of this exciting resource that we can contribute to! The workshop also went into how there is a CIFL Google Group (that I am apart of – and let me tell you- it is worth joining! You get so much great and current information about job opportunities), CIFL Facebook Group: www.facebook/CareersFedLibrary, CIFL Twitter:, and LinkedIn group:

I have to say that this workshop helped me realize the importance of networking and that participating in ALA events can go a long way- especially if you are willing to take on some responsibility to help with a committee and committees are. The workship also taught me about important resources that will help me with my job search. I am sorry if you missed out on this event. I hope my post(s) have been helpful!


Event Review: “Strategies for Resumes & Job Searching”

Guest blog by

On Sunday, January 22nd I attended an ALA 2012 Midwinter workshop called “Strategies for Resumes and Job Searching”, conducted in the ALA Joblist Placement Center.

The first speaker was Michelle Chronister, who is/was a Presidential Management Fellow that is working for the U.S. General Services Administration as a Program Analyst and  Content Manager at the Federal Citizen Information Center. Michelle talked about her PMF experience. She started by sharing about the PMF program ( She explained that it is a highly competitive program and that she wishes more library science students would apply for it when they are about to graduate. She explained that they are looking for highly motivated individuals that can demonstrate that they would be devoted federal employees if selected as a PMF finalist. She went onto say that a PMF will work for two years while getting 80 hours of training each year until they are potentially offered a full time position from an agency. It was very interesting to learn from her because she had actually succeeded in the PMF selection process. I was surprised to learn much of the selection process for the program is about assess your what your professional character is like and if it will be a fit for working for the government. This was helpful to learn.

Next at the “Strategies for Resumes and Job Searching” workshop, there was an extremely outgoing and inspiring speaker, named Virginia Sanchez.  She is an Intelligence Specialist working for the U.S. Navy. She began by sharing about two wonderful resources for Veterans that are looking for jobs–perhaps some of you are eligible for it… it was called the Feds Hire Vets ( and Hire Heroes USA ( If you qualify for this, you should really check out these sites. In addition to this, she gave some advice for job seekers that are still ringing in my ears: stay positive, don’t burn bridges, and stay connected. How true! It’s a simple system to follow and yet it is so effective and valuable to keep in mind. I actually thought about it this week when a coworker of mine took another position that he is excited about. I also found it extremely interesting to hear her share about how her affiliation with SALIS(Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists grp.) made her resume stand out among a pool of applicants to get her a job at one point. I now realize the importance of displaying the organizations I am a member of on my resume. Very interesting point!

Another speaker at the “Strategies for Resumes and Job Searching” workshop, was a graduate from the University of North Texas’ Library and Information Science program- where I am getting my degree. I am so was excited to see an alumni of my institution that is gainfully employed at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Her name is Nancy Clark. Interestingly she lives in Dallas, but formally works for the D.C. Office. It’s just one of those things some of the VA librarians can do, I guess. Her virtual library and library services often answer questions about  how to participate in the healthcare plan and patient education. She mentioned there may be some changes headed our way about the 1410 series on USAjobs- so heads up people! She described a couple “Visim”? VA librarian opportunities that were positions coming up for those job seekers that might be interested. After Nancy spoke, Jennifer Manning shared about her position at the Congressional Research Services. If you go to the CIFL slideshare page, her handout is provided there. She went into how she is analyst and sometimes she does government resource training for interns and other new additions to various government agencies that might benefit from such training. You should really look at the handout if you have a chance!

Andrea Davis was the final speaker at this workshop. She is a recent college grad that received a job opportunity to work under the expired program FCIP (Federal Career Intern Program:, which essentially is being reorganized under the Pathways program. Andrea’s title is: Reference and Instruction Librarian for the Dudley Knox Library at the Naval Postgraduate School in California. Her perspective on networking was incredibly refreshing!! She encouraged people not to be intimidated when networking. She made an excellent point that it should be something to have fun with- almost like a game. She encouraged people to go to conference and meet people to broaden their professional circle. She encourage students to apply for any scholarships that are specifically meant to be used to attend conferences. Many library schools have such opportunities. That’s true. Mine does!

[Learn more about hiring reforms and Pathways program ]

Information Professionals and Intelligence Analysis

Event review from Aileen Marshall


On November 8, 2011, I had the opportunity to attend a presentation/discussion at Catholic University in DC on “Library and Information Science and Intelligence Analysis: Converging Educational Paths?”.

A crowd of about 50 people, library students, professionals as well as professionals in transition, gathered in the Hannan Hall Auditorium on the beautiful campus to listen to five excellent speakers about the connection between library/information science and intelligence analysis. Although all speakers were excellent and their presentations insightful, this post concentrates on the speech given by Dr. Edna Reid, Intelligence Analyst at the U.S. Department of Justice. Whereas the other presentations mostly focused on intelligence analysis models, theories and practices, Dr. Reid introduced the audience to the language used in the field of intelligence analysis, and the impact that choosing the right jargon has on a resume and application.

An application for a position within the field of intelligence analysis requires a careful rewording of any standard library resume commonly used when applying for positions within a library. Dr. Reid emphasized that librarians have all the skills that are vital for gathering and creating intelligence, but that a lot of applicants fail to promote their skills when they fail to use community-specific terms.

Intelligence analysts identify, synthesize and analyze trends, threats and opportunities in a given environment, and gather information to understand an unfamiliar situation and its implications within a given context and/or overall problem. After the 9/11 attacks, the need for intelligence analysts grew quickly, and the shortage of qualified people hindered the ability of intelligence agencies to effectively identify and respond to terrorist’s use of the internet.

The main difference between an intelligence analyst and an information professional is the possession and mastery of high-level analytical (cognitive) skills. Whereas both professions are involved in gathering, organizing and managing information, a librarian is not usually required to analyze information and create intelligence reports crucial to mission-critical questions.

But it’s not only those skills information professionals need to acquire in order to be successful in an analyst position. Before we even get a shot at working within the intelligence community, we need to understand the language used within this field. Keep in mind that your resume, once submitted, may be first analyzed using data-mining software to determine if your resume even references the skills that the agency seeks. You might possess these skills but neglect to describe the skills in your resume. You might not use the right keywords in the resume, and that is the end of the application process for you.

So just to survive this first round and get a shot at an often times electronic interview, Dr. Reid introduced intel-specific terms that will help you reframe the language in your resume. In her article, Information Professionals as Intelligence Analysts: Making the Transition (2009), she compares terms used in other information disciplines to the ones used in intelligence analysis. It is critical that the resume is written with great care and focuses on these terms that describe the skills desired by the intel community.

If you are a librarian or other information specialist, you have surely heard of argument mapping, (reference) interview, timeline, etc. If you are thinking about becoming an intelligence analyst, you need to forget these terms and replace them with language that will get your resume through the first screening process. Argument mapping turns into The analysis of competing hypotheses (ACH), the Case Study Methodology is called Situational Logic, and the reference interview is a debriefing or even interrogation … yep, most of us have heard these terms when watching TV shows like NCIS or CSI, and honestly, who of us did not sit up straight and thought “Wow, these guys are doing all these cool things, interrogating people and tossing terms around like “Red Cell”. The latter, by the way, is the analytical technique used to pretend that the analyst is the bad guy; in other disciplines this is simply called the methodology of “Pretending to be the bad guy” (good cop, bad cop anyone?). Other words you should consider using in your resume to display your skills are: puzzles, dealing with the unknown, grow, develop, information architecture, patterns, and data mining.

In summary, librarians possess skills that are highly desirable in the intelligence community, but we need to acquire the mindset of an analyst and market our abilities in the right way in order to become of part of the interesting, exciting, and rewarding world of intelligence analysis.

Aileen Marshall holds an MLIS from the University of South Carolina and a MA in English linguistics from the Westfälische Wilhelms-University, Germany. She works as reference librarian for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and is an active member of the Special Library Association, especially the DC Chapter. She is the upcoming Chair-Elect for the SLA DGI, and enjoys advocating for libraries and the important role they play in society. As a former jail librarian, she shares her experience in an article published in the Jan./Feb. Edition of “Information Outlook“; you can learn more about her and her work at

Hello World

I hope you’ll take a look around our Careers in Federal Libraries blog, Facebook site, join our LinkedIn discussions, subscribe to one of our RSS feeds or follow us on Twitter. We’ve integrated our social media, so you can pick a favorite platform or two and learn about the diverse careers in federal libraries. (Warning – we’ll probably continue to tinker with the WordPress format for a couple months.)

Even if a federal career isn’t for you, I want urge both student readers and librarians to consider involvement in a virtual internship or practicum. Mentorships foster unique, rewarding relationships and spread the collaborative spirit of librarianship. I’ve had a blast developing and integrating the media and getting to know the “instigator” of CiFL. In my case, I get to play with computers, meet great people and learn how the world of work collaborates using social media and technology.

My practicum is nearing its end. If you are interested, there is more work to be done. We would love to cultivate a rotation of contributing bloggers. You work with smart, fun and generous colleagues at your own pace. You can be creative, flex your writing skills and maybe get noticed.

Some of the blogs that inspire me were started by transitioning librarians and jobseekers, and many point to alternate careers. These include Law Librarians of Leisure (inactive, but very useful), Information Wants to Be Free, and For inspiration on Web 2.0 library skills (is it 2.011 or 3.0 now?), check out Information Tyrannosaur and The Technological Tortoise (now sarahglassmeyer(dot)com). I’m slightly embarrassed to say I have 95 RSS feeds in Google Reader and follow about the same number on Twitter. For leisure reading, I often get lost in Open Culture.
Please feel free to add your own inspirations in the comments.

Nancy Faget is the “instigator” of Careers in Federal Libraries and deserves a standing ovation for all the work she puts into this effort. She represents the collaborative nature of librarians that drew me to library school. I’m grateful for her guidance, mentoring, friendship and nagging ;-), for giving me the freedom to create (and recreate) and for being available at all sorts of odd hours. Thank you, Nancy.

Posted by: Cindy Hirsch

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