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Tweaking THOMAS

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It’s that time of year again when I get to talk about new enhancements to While I spend a lot of time on our social media at the Law Library of Congress, THOMAS is my primary focus.

Earlier this year, we announced that Constitutional Authority Statements were now on the Bill Summary and Status pages in THOMAS.  We recently launched @THOMASdotgov, a specific Twitter account for THOMAS.

With this update, the THOMAS Twitter account is now listed in the “Find the Law Library on:” social media box on the left along with the Law Library Twitter account (which has cruised passed 12,000 followers).

Another tweak is the addition of a video link for the Senate in the Current Activity box, which goes to C-SPAN2.  The link for House video was previously added after HouseLive launched.  If you’re interested in video, I’ve previously blogged about Where to Watch Congress Online.

Also, the Feature box has been replaced with an In Custodia Legis box that displays the three most recent THOMAS posts.

Other changes you won’t see, but will be felt behind the scenes.  We’ve added more Dublin Core metadata.  One thing this will help with is the new Library of Congress search system, which now can search all of the legislation in THOMAS (and quickly shows that there are 232,294 items).  You can then filter the results by date or contributor (Member of Congress).  Also, you can see the number of items for each of the facets. This page is a helpful tool to see how many items a Member has sponsored since data starts in THOMAS.

What else would you like to see on THOMAS?  How do you think we can improve it?


Comments (6)

  1. I’d love to see full text Congressional hearings on THOMAS so that we can do some really detailed legislative history analysis. Or a link to full text. I’d love to see full text hearings back to the 1940s. I know these are available via commercial providers, but the datasets are so expensive that it’s hard for social scientists who don’t have a huge library to get this full text data for things like computer aided textual analysis. But that’s not to say I don’t appreciate the exciting new features on THOMAS, a site I routinely recommend to my students. Thanks!

  2. I’ve been asking LOC law librarians about complete transcripts of congressional hearings for years. They always direct you to the Congressional Record and floor statements and debates and I don’t think they understand that the most valuable and detailed legislative history information occurs during the hearings.

    It’s far from complete, and sometimes it only includes the written statements submitted for hearings, but the best free resource for at least some congressional hearings from the past few Congresses is on the GPO (now FDYSYS) site:

  3. I would like to see a feature that would allow a user to be search current legislation based on key words. In my case those words would include: “veteran,” “military retiree,” “military widow,” “service connected disability,” “combat related,” “Tricare,” “survivors benefits,” “dependency indeminification,” etc.

    Additionally, this feature should allow one to specify the begin and end dates.

    Nice to have, but not really necessary, would be an enhancement to to send this information to one’s email address.

  4. I love the new feature to search across multiple Congress sessions!

  5. Given the fact that members always ask for and receive or chairmen always grant the ability to revise and extend a members remark, be from the floor or be it in a committee hearing, what would be really valuable is to actually read in the record what they said on the floor or in the committee hearing. All revised and extended remarks should be noted as such with a time stamp as well.

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