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Twenty Years of THOMAS

Even though we are working to retire THOMAS, I thought we should celebrate the fact that it has now been online for twenty years!  THOMAS was a pioneer when it was launched on January 5, 1995.  It was even noteworthy that THOMAS was “available 24 hours a day.”  I have been at the Library of Congress for just over ten years and have worked on THOMAS (and now Congress.gov) for part of that time.  The Library’s website is like the Library itself — there is a lot of content and sometimes one finds surprises while doing research.  Did you know that THOMAS was once defaced?  Or did you know there was a page with Legislation Related to the Attack of September 11, 2001?

THOMAS Starting PointOne of the more detailed reports about the launch of THOMAS is from the Library of Congress Information Bulletin article, Congress on the Internet.  Then there are various links about the history of THOMAS.  I am primarily focusing on the last few years (the part I am most familiar with).

I combed the web archive and found a few images of THOMAS at various points in time.  The earliest version of the homepage I saw was this one from 2004.

The THOMAS homepage, January 2004

The THOMAS homepage, January 2004

With the update in November 2005, THOMAS changed from the above image to the one below.

THOMAS Homepage, Nov. 2005

THOMAS homepage, Nov. 2005

For two years between 2006 to 2008, this beta version of THOMAS was available from the homepage.  With the start of the 111th Congress, the link to the beta was removed.

Beta Version of THOMAS, Available Dec. 2006-Dec. 2008 from the Homepage

Beta version of THOMAS, available Dec. 2006-Dec. 2008 from the homepage

Happy 20th birthday, THOMAS! I am counting down the days until you retire to Monticello, just like your namesake.

The Congress.gov Top 14 in 2014

I love end of the year lists.  It is nice to take a step back from the day to day or month to month and look at trends over time.  Last year I surveyed the top 13 in 2013 and decided to add another item to the list this year. This has been an eventful […]

Budget Resolutions and Authorizing Legislation

I have previously written about the budget process and appropriations.  Now, I am turning to authorization legislation. In theory, process for funding the government is an orderly one in which each year the President proposes a budget; the U.S. Congress passes appropriations legislation; the enrolled bills are sent to the President for signing; and voila, government agencies […]

Congress.gov: Removing the Beta Label and New Enhancements

The Library of Congress launched Congress.gov in beta two years ago.  Today, I’m happy to announce we officially removed the beta label. That’s roughly three years quicker than Gmail took to remove its beta label, but we won’t give you the option of putting it back on Congress.gov.  URLs that include beta.Congress.gov will be redirected […]

Making Legislative Information Accessible, Discoverable and Usable

The following is a guest post by Noriko Ohtaki, who was a research fellow at the Law Library of Congress.  She previously blogged about Searching for Current Japanese Laws and Regulations. G8 leaders signed the Open Data Charter on June 18, 2013.  Open Data is intended to make information resources accessible, discoverable, and usable electronically to the public, increase […]

Top 10 for the First 6 Months of 2014

This year seems to be flying by.  Our team of bloggers has posted over 100 times to In Custodia Legis so far this year.  Of those 100 posts, two of the top ten most viewed have to do with time.  There is also significant interest in tracing legislation and Congress.gov. Advanced Search, Browse, and Appropriations […]

Nominations, Accounts, Saved Searches – Congress.gov Continues to Grow

I have been looking forward to this Congress.gov release for several months.  There is now nomination information, accounts, the ability to save searches, an expanded About section, an FAQ section, easy access to Member remarks in the Congressional Record, and more. With the new updates, you can locate nominations dating back to 1981.  The nominations section […]

The Congress.gov Wall of Wonderful Feedback – Pic of the Week

I was at a Congress.gov meeting earlier this week where Jill MacNeice presented the results from a round of unmoderated Congress.gov testing.  During the presentation Jill showed this wall with responses to questions posed that included a heat map of where people clicked on Congress.gov.  Based on hundreds of responses received, Jill was able to draw […]

Advanced Search, Browse, and Appropriations Tables Added to Congress.gov

There are some great new features and improvements now available on Congress.gov.  Our team from across the Library of Congress has worked hard to have the first version of both Advanced Search and Browse in this release.  I’m also happy to announce that another requested page from THOMAS has now made it over to Congress.gov, the Appropriations Table. As […]