Member Spotlight – Hannah Rubin, Library of Congress

Sep 26, 2014

Hannah Rubin, Congressional Research Service (C R S) at the Library of Congress.
Meet Hannah Rubin, who works in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) at the Library of Congress. She’s the focus of this month’s Member Spotlight. In addition to her “real” job, she’s also currently working as a “20%-er” with the DigitalGov User Experience Program via our Open Opportunities program.

What do you love most about your current job/position?

CRS has a unique mission: to provide objective, nonpartisan, confidential, and authoritative research and analysis for Congress throughout the legislative process. As a service unit of the Library of Congress, it’s also part of a world-class institution. Even though I don’t work with Congress directly, I feel privileged to support the CRS mission and come to work at the Library every day. I also love checking out books from the Library—one of my favorite employee benefits!

Regarding the work itself, I love the big-picture perspective that information architecture provides. A lot of my work is very detailed, but those details are part of a coherent whole that improves the user experience. I need to understand the big picture and how the details connect to make it work. My colleagues and I bridge the technical and business sides, and we need to speak both languages and work with people across the organization.

What projects or initiatives are you currently working on?

I work on a number of projects related to the CRS website for Congress. Broadly speaking, my colleagues and I are responsible for optimizing access to CRS content by managing metadata, search, taxonomy, and analytics.

Please tell us about a recent project that you’re proud of, and why it went so well.

I’m active in Special Libraries Association (SLA), an international organization of librarians and information professionals who work in a variety of settings, including government. For the past two years, I’ve been the planning director for the SLA Government Information Division. In that role, I help plan our division’s programs for SLA’s annual conference. I previously served as chair of the SLA Taxonomy Division, which brings together people with interest and expertise in taxonomies, metadata, and semantic technologies.

At the 2014 SLA conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, we offered several programs of interest to the digital government community.

At a session on digital government strategy, panelists discussed the local digital strategy for the City of Vancouver, which was co-chaired by the head of the Vancouver Public Library; the Federal Reserve’s online resources, including the FRED database and FRASER digital library; and eLibraryUSA, a State Department initiative to provide common digital resources for users of embassy information resource centers around the world.

A program on “Bringing Parks to the People” introduced social media initiatives at Parks Canada (the Canadian park service), and the Open Parks Network, a project based at Clemson University to digitize materials from U.S. national parks and make them available online.

Another session explored evolving roles for information professionals. Technology has changed librarianship dramatically, and many librarians are seeking new roles outside of traditional libraries in areas such as digital content management and information architecture. At the same time, newer information-related fields are beginning to define themselves more concretely.

Finally, “60 Government Sites in 60 Minutes” gave a quick overview of the presenters’ favorite government and government-related websites.

You can view the slides from all of these sessions to learn more.

Where did you go to school, and what did you study?

For undergrad, I went to Carleton College and majored in comparative religion. It was fascinating to learn about different belief systems and cultures, and the degree involved lots of reading and writing. I also worked as a writing tutor and wrote for the school newspaper, all of which prepared me for editorial jobs after I graduated.

After eight years in journalism and communications, I went back to school for a master’s degree in library science at the University of Maryland, where I focused on knowledge organization. That led me to my current work in information architecture, content management, and analytics.

How do you like to spend time away from work?

I have kids, and family time is a high priority. I also like to read, bake, swim, travel, and spend time outside.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not presented as those of the Congressional Research Service or the Library of Congress.