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Ask Molly: CIA Library

April 11, 2019


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Dear Molly,

Does CIA really have a library? If so, I would like a library card!

~ Bookworm

* * * * *

Dear Bookworm,

We do have a library! But to get a library card, you’ll need a security clearance. That’s because although CIA Library might look like any other modern public library, resting alongside the periodicals and stacks of books on history, international affairs, and science you’ll find volumes most Americans will never see. The literature of secrets.

But our collection is mainly unclassified, and we have approximately 100,000 print materials and access to over 200 online databases that include more than 90,000 full-text electronic periodicals, dissertations, photographs, and public records.

Whew, that’s a lot of information!

We also have materials like maps, language resources, and movies. (Yep, we even have a DVD collection that includes spy movies and documentaries).

We also have a few more “interesting” collections you won’t find at your neighborhood library.

The Whaley Denial and Deception Collection contains materials on magic, lying, and even methods used by catchers and pitchers to communicate during baseball games.

The Historical Intelligence Collection is basically a treasure trove of anything to do with the intelligence profession. We have more than 25,000 books and press clippings in the collection. The oldest item is a book on cryptography bound in vellum and published primarily in Latin in 1606!

With all that information, it should come as no surprise then that we also have full-time librarians who work at CIA. They’re in high demand, and it’s not unusual for them to be recruited by other Agency offices because of their exceptional research abilities and training in information science.

When most people think of CIA and the officers who help keep our country safe, a librarian is probably not what comes to mind. We think some heroes wear cardigans.

~ Molly

ask molly

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