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New Online: Website Updates, Presidential Papers, Federal Resources

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(The following is a guest post by William Kellum, manager in the Library’s Web Services Division.) 

Website Resources

New in July is a new, responsive design for the Library’s Online Catalog, one of the most heavily used features of our website. Like other websites, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of users accessing our content using mobile devices – not only for basic information about the Library but also for research tools like the Online Catalog. The new catalog interface is responsive, resizing the elements on the screen to optimally fit the user’s device, whether phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. The new user interface also simplifies and streamlines page layouts and type styles and improves accessibility for all patrons, including those with disabilities.

The new Online Catalog design features clean, mobile-friendly layouts.
The new Online Catalog design features clean, mobile-friendly layouts.

New in Manuscripts

From our Manuscript Division comes the Martin Van Buren Papers, one of the 23 collections of presidential papers residing in the Library. Never before online, the new presentation includes access to more than 6,000 items dating from 1787 to circa 1910. The bulk of the material dates from the 1820s, when Van Buren (1782-1862) was a U.S. senator from New York, through his service as secretary of state and vice president in the Andrew Jackson administrations (1829-1837), to his own presidency (1837-1841) and through the decade thereafter when he made unsuccessful bids to return to the presidency with the Democratic and Free Soil parties. Included are correspondence, autobiographical materials, notes and other writings, drafts of messages to Congress in 1837 and 1838 and other speeches, legal and estate records, miscellany and family items. The presentation also includes a handy timeline and a great selection of political cartoons from the collections of the Prints & Photographs Division featuring Van Buren.

Federal Register Resources

The Federal Register is the official daily publication for presidential documents, executive orders and proposed, interim and final rules and regulations, as well as notices by Federal Agencies and notices of hearings, decisions, investigations and committee meetings. The Federal Register has been published by the National Archives and Records Administration since 1936. Our new Federal Register online collection provides access to 14,586 issues of the Federal Register, covering the years 1936-1993. The Law Library of Congress blog provides a Beginner’s Guide that will help users understand the Federal Register and how to use it in research.

New in Exhibitions 

The "America Reads" online exhibition includes images from books that shaped America, such as this 1776 edition of Thomas Paine’s "Common Sense."
The “America Reads” online exhibition includes images from books that shaped America, such as this 1776 edition of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”

In 2012, a group of curators and subject experts in the Library of Congress developed the institution’s popular exhibition, Books That Shaped America. The books chosen were not intended to be a list of the “best” books published in the United States. Rather, the group chose 88 core books by American authors that had, for a wide variety of reasons, a profound effect on American life. Knowing that opinions can be as varied as the number of people you ask, we urged the public to name “other books that shaped America” and to tell us which of the 88 core books on our list were most important to them. That survey forms the basis of a new online (and in-person) exhibition, America Reads. Thousands of readers responded with their choices. The Top 40 vote-getters for “other books that shaped America” are on display, along with the public’s top choices from our original 88 selections.


  1. Lovely,
    thank you
    karen schalk

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