Federal Librarian Summer 2009

An Interview with FBI Laboratory Supervisory Librarian, Jane Killian

by Rebecca Kennedy

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s primary mission is “to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats and to enforce the criminal laws of the United States.”1

Supporting the FBI in its mission is its Laboratory Library, a vital component of the Laboratory’s Quality Assurance and Training Unit (QATU). Library personnel there support investigations by furnishing relevant technical information and a collection of reference materials that presently includes more than 8000 scientific books and 400 periodical
subscriptions.2 Staff members “provide forensic examinations, technical support, expert witness testimony, and training to federal, state, and local law agencies.”3

The supervisory librarian for the Laboratory Library is Jane Killian. Killian supervises three other library staff in her department — two technical information specialists and the writer-editor for all of the Laboratory Library’s publications. Killian has high praise for her “amicable” colleagues and says that she and her staff members share “a
work dynamic that is irreplaceable and rare.” Having the chance to work with them is Killian’s favorite part of her job.

Readers who think that working for the FBI might be similar to the television shows CSI and N3mbers will be rather disappointed. As Killian says, “That’s the big laugh of Laboratory employees in that we are nothing like TV.” The evidence that is sent to the Laboratory comes from local, state, and various federal agencies. Few FBI agents actually
work in the Laboratory Division. Also, due to the fact that she does not know if her research has been used in
pending or upcoming cases, i.e. for courtroom testimony, Killian cannot specify the reference questions that she has worked on, nor can she discuss any memorable cases or inquiries that she has assisted with.

In addition to managing library personnel, Killian holds various other responsibilities, including teaching
bibliographic resource classes at the FBI’s Training Academy, serving as the Intranet Content Manager for the
Laboratory Library’s home page, and collaborating with other personnel in planning a future symposium program.

Killian’s prior experience in librarianship has been in academia. Armed with an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Georgia, she attended the University of Kentucky for MSLIS, where she was a student worker for both the university’s geology and main reference libraries. Following the completion of her master’s degree, Killian worked as the Circulation and Interlibrary Loan Librarian for Berry College, a small Christian liberal-arts college in Rome, Georgia.

Killian decided to move into the federal sector for personal reasons and said that the FBI “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.” Having grown up as a self-proclaimed Air Force brat, the opportunity to work for the federal government was an exciting one in addition to providing job security.

Killian believes that her academic background was a definite strength in being hired at the FBI, as that was what the agency was looking for. She also possesses a sales and service background in the private sector which she says has helped enormously when trying to draw new patrons to using the library and helping users feel at ease asking staff
for help.

About working in a federal library, Killian says, “I would do it again in a heartbeat.” She notes that most government agency libraries are small, which means that a librarian can be the proverbial jack of all trades. So if that is the type of position you enjoy, consider a job in the federal sector!

1 “What We Investigate.” Accessed March 1, 2009. http://www.fbi.gov/hq.htm
2 Ibid.
3 FBI Laboratory Services home page. Accessed March 1, 2009. http://www. fbi.gov/hq/lab/labhome.htm

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