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Congress.gov Continues…

James Madison, one author of the Federalist Papers, in the Library of Congress

Sculpture of James Madison, one author of the Federalist Papers, in the Library of Congress (photo by Andrew Weber)

So far, 2015 has been a great year for Congress.gov.  First, we launched email alerts in February. Then, we added treaty documents and more in March.  With today’s update, improvements have been made to search (results, command line and advanced), alerts, browse, and accessibility.

The Federalist Papers have remained a perennially popular item on THOMAS with nearly a million page views over the last two years.  Thanks to a lot of hard work by Kelly Yuzawa, you can now read them on Congress.gov.

There are two additional items listed on our Fields Values List.  One is the Member Bioguide Ids, which is a list of all Members in our system and their unique identifier, and the other is Committee Names and Codes.  There are also four new items on our Browse page:

Speaking of Public Laws, you can now quickly access them from the text drop down menu.

Public Law Text

Public Law Text

Robert provides a rundown of all the improvements in this release on the Congress.gov Enhancements page:

Enhancement – Resources:

  • Added the Federalist Papers

Enhancement – Searching:

  • Enhancements to searching
    • Congress.gov now supports the following:
      • Proximity search for phrases
      • Smart quotes in search strings
      • Diacritics in search strings
      • Additional citation patterns and fixes to citation patterns Highlighting within bill actions
      • Improvements to highlighting

Enhancement – Command Line Search:

  • Command Line / Advanced Search
    • Additional fields
      • Added/updated legislative command line fields
      • Added/updated nomination command line fields
      • New count-based command line fields
      • Added/updated fields in the advanced search form
      • Adjusted allBillTitles field to include amendment purpose and description
      • Now supports treatyStatus on command line
    • Type ahead available on sponsor/cosponsor field
    • Now retains user entry in text boxes when the field selection changes

Enhancement – Search Results:

  • Search Results
    • Numbers the search results
    • Added “(private legislation)” in search results

Enhancement – Help & About Pages:

  • Enhancements have been made to the Help/About pages
    • Provided a Field Value List page for Bioguide IDs
    • Provided a Field Value List page for committee IDs

Enhancement – Alerts:

  • Changes have been made to the alert emails based on user feedback
    • The Congress.gov logo now links to the homepage
    • Changed the bill alert email: The sort triggers in tab order
    • Changed the bill alert email: Changed the cosponsors link to go to reverse chronological cosponsor list
    • Changed the member alert email: Bills are sorted by number

Enhancement – Browse:

  • Law Listing Report
  • Recently Added Bill Text Report
  • Bill by Request Report
  • Private Bills Report
  • Enhancements to the existing browse reports

Enhancement – Appropriation Tables:

  • Added tables for prior years in the new appropriations table format that debuted in March of 2015

Enhancement – Accessibility:

  • Adjusted system alert messages
  • Tabs are displayed inside the drop-down on mobile devices
  • Suppressed the display of breadcrumbs for a cleaner presentation on mobile devices

Thanks to all of you for providing us with great feedback on Congress.gov.  It keeps fueling our efforts to make the site better and better.

Baking at the Capitol

No, this is not a post about summer temperatures in Washington, D.C.  Rather, this is a post that a number of us have been dreaming about for several years.  For some curious reason, baking and law librarianship seem to be inextricably linked: many law librarians are master bakers, and those that are not are master […]

Top 5s in 2015

As the first third of the year draws to a close, I thought it would be nice to take a look at the metrics for a few different resources on Congress.gov and the Law Library’s website.  I find it helpful, when thinking about how to update and improve our website, to review what gets the most attention from our […]

Treaties, Text, and Timely Updates – Congress.gov Spring Cleaning

Since introducing Congress.gov in September 2012, we have continued to add the databases from THOMAS to the new system.  We launched with legislation, followed soon thereafter by the Congressional Record, Committee Reports, and nominations.  Today, we are releasing treaty documents.  You can select “All Sources” and search across all of these data sets at once, something […]

A Congress.gov Interview with Kelly Yuzawa, Specialist in Legislative Information Systems Management

Kelly Yuzawa is a specialist in legislative information systems management within the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress.  Kelly works with Amy, who was interviewed last week, in CRS.  This continues our Congress.gov interview series that also included Meg, Rich, Barry, Rohit, Andy, Val, and Stephen. Describe your background. I grew up in California and Oregon. I was a Japanese/Asian Studies […]

A Congress.gov Interview with Amy Swantner, Specialist in Legislative Information Systems Management

This week’s interview is with Amy Swantner, specialist in legislative information systems management within the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress.  Our Congress.gov interview series highlights some of the people who have contributed to the legislative information system (including Meg, Rich, Barry, Rohit, Andy, Val, and Stephen). Describe your background. I am an information professional with many years of […]