Today’s interview is with Claudia Guidi. Claudia is a legislative data analyst in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress.
Describe your background.
I completed my Master of Science in Library and Information Science at the Catholic University of America in 2016. At that time I was already working as a User Support Specialist at the CRS, a position that I started in July of 2013. While school gave me the theoretical foundation on digital libraries, information architecture, and web design, working at CRS allowed me to experience first-hand how patrons access and use technology and digital information on a day to day basis.
I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I studied classical languages and linguistics at the University of Buenos Aires. I came to the United States in 2002 as a Spanish instructor and later completed a PhD in linguistics at Georgetown University in 2009. My love for languages, learning, and technology stemmed from these formative experiences as an instructor and graduate student. Many of the subjects that I was exposed to back then, including semantics, natural language processing, statistics, cognitive psychology, and instructional design, are still relevant to my work for the Congress.gov team at CRS today.
How would you describe your job to other people?
To give context to what I do, it is important to understand the CRS unique, statutory mission to serve the information, research, and analysis needs of the U.S. Congress. Regardless of role or rank, I think that all of us at CRS see our work as a collaborative effort toward a common goal: To fulfill the CRS mission to meet Congress’s information needs throughout the legislative process while adhering to our core values of confidentiality, objectivity, non-partisanship, authoritativeness, and timeliness. I think that everyone at CRS puts forward their best effort to do this efficiently and effectively, every day.
One of our core values, timeliness, is especially relevant to my work as a subject matter expert for Congress.gov. As the official website for U.S. federal legislative information, Congress.gov is a complex project in part due to the multiple and sometimes disparate data sources and inherent immediacy of legislative information. Providing timely data quality reviews on a daily basis is an important part of my job.
In my job, I am also proactively involved with our outreach program because I recognize that training and client engagement is of utmost importance to the success of the project and our strategic goal of building and enhancing relationships with our clients. In coordination with the House and Senate, we have provided hundreds of training sessions for Congress.gov users, including webinars.
What is your role in the development of Congress.gov?
I see my role as that of a liaison, as someone who, through collaboration with programmers, web application developers, UX experts, IT professionals, project managers, and other Library of Congress staff, helps to develop and optimize Congress.gov for users.
I feel proud to be part of a team of subject matter experts that contribute to the Congress.gov project by gathering, articulating, and documenting user requirements. I also feel grateful to be actively involved in every aspect of the project, from development of specifications for our content management system, to front-end user interface design, to feature enhancement, and user acceptance testing.
What is your favorite feature of Congress.gov?
I love the personalized experience that the website provides through its saved searches and alerts features. As a Congress.gov user, I want to be able to track different aspects of legislation. Alerts make it very easy to track, for example, when a Member sponsors or cosponsors a bill. Or I can conduct a search, save it, and create an alert in order to receive emails whenever there is a change on any parameter of my choice including actions, amendments, summaries, text versions, or cosponsors, just to name a few options.
I love how easy it is to create an account on Congress.gov and start taking advantage of the personalization features.
What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the legislative process while working on Congress.gov?
I am fascinated by the complexity not only of the legislative process per se but also by what it takes to build an information retrieval system with the level of specificity and granularity required for users to be able to access, browse, search, track, and use legislative information from several different collections.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I love cycling and swimming. My lifetime dream is to swim across a large body of water like the American distance swimmer Diana Nyad did.
Thanks to the information you gather and analyze any citizen can actually be well informed. Good for you and the CRS (including Ids Brudnick). You all support our democratic principles.