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A Congress.gov Interview with Cassidy Charles, Legislative Data Specialist

Today’s interview is with Cassidy Charles, a legislative data specialist in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

I joined the Congressional Research Service in 2020. I earned a B.A. in Political Science Pre-Law from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and an M.L.I.S. from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Previously, I worked at public and academic libraries in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California. Working at the Congressional Research Service is a perfect Venn diagram of my professional interests – library science, government information, and digital information resources.

a photo of Cassidy Charles

Cassidy Charles. Photo by Jody E. Thomas.

How would you describe your job to other people?

We ensure that congressional data received from data partners displays on Congress.gov to operationally support the legislative activities of the day. We also work on development projects to enhance the features and coverage on Congress.gov, and provide user support and training. Every day could be a bit different based on the legislative activities of the day and I find that especially energizing.

What is your role in the development of Congress.gov?

Congress.gov is a collaborative project and as a legislative data specialist, I am partly responsible for capturing user stories to inform new features and enhancements. Then, after discussion and development, I test new features and enhancements before they are released to ensure everything functions or displays as expected for users. I feel very lucky to work with the teams and data partners that make Congress.gov possible.

What is your favorite feature of Congress.gov?

The Browse directory on Congress.gov provides quick access to frequently-requested lists and prepared search results for the current Congress and previous congresses. The high-level view is a nice snapshot of congressional activity for a particular congress, and where applicable, the links to search results pages provide great access to filtering content further during research.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the legislative process while working on Congress.gov?

Print documents play an important role in the legislative process and ingesting that information into Congress.gov can be very complex. The Congressional Record is the official record of the debates and proceedings of the United States Congress and is printed physically and digitally by the Government Publishing Office while Congress is in session.

The Congressional Record may be colloquially referred to as “the newspaper of Congress,” and there are unique chamber customs and rules around the Congressional Record. From Congress.gov, users can sign-up to receive an alert when the latest issue of the Congressional Record is available and also search by date or keyword.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I previously played lacrosse and fenced. Though I have not picked up an épée in years, I enjoy watching fencing in international competitions. Running and hiking are my preferred forms of exercise now and also allow me to explore the abundance of trails in the region.

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