<style type="text/css"> .no-show { display: none; } .disable-fade-in{ opacity: 1 !important; transform: none !important; visibility: visible !important; } </style>

The Reimagined CIA Library

In 1957, then-CIA librarian Alexander Toth wrote, “This library of ours must be the most modern, attractive and efficient one we can devise.” Sixty-seven years later, those words still hold.

The CIA Library at Headquarters has served as a sanctuary for our workforce for decades. A space for intensive research, peace of mind, and the occasional board game with colleagues.

A rare look at the CIA Library in use, circa late 1960s.

The recently remodeled space is designed to highlight opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and creativity, while meeting the technological and logistical requirements of the current workforce. It now offers access to video teleconference (VTC), a large conference room, a small amphitheater, and private areas for meeting and working. The project to transform the library into a modern space came in response to the feedback and needs of CIA officers.

Some of the reimagined CIA Library spaces.

“At CIA, we often remind ourselves that people are the mission,” CIA Director William Burns explained during the revamped Library’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “The renovations made to our library are a powerful reflection of that. It is now poised to serve as a much needed third space for officers at Headquarters. A place of work less formal than our offices, but quieter than the cafeteria. A place that’s capable of hosting VTCs, private coaching sessions, podcast recordings, brainstorms between teammates and lectures by visiting speakers all at the same time. I’m also happy to report that it still has board games.”

In addition to the physical renovations, the CIA Library has adopted an increasingly digital model over the past two decades, like libraries across the country. Librarians focus services on facilitating access to the digital collections of commercial data, including subscriptions to technical and business resources.

Though the threats our nation faces are evolving rapidly, the timeless idea of a library serving as the gateway to knowledge remains relevant. To sustain our intelligence advantage, the Agency must also evolve by continuing to provide our people all the information they need and empowering them to collaborate in new ways.

Explore More Stories

Where Spies Go When They Don’t Know
Ask Molly: CIA Library
Top 10 Research Tips for a Great School Year from CIA Librarians