Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thomas.gov is Moving

Did you hear? THOMAS is moving and being integrated into Congress.gov.
Beginning in November, individuals utilizing thomas.loc.gov will be redirected to the new site.



For those not familiar with THOMAS and therefore unaware of its usefulness, it was launched by the Library of Congress in 1995 to provide free access to federal legislative information. It is a valuable research tool for locating current bills and resolutions. The inclusion of the Congressional Record  and committee reports makes it a great source for legislative history research.

The Library of Congress describes Congress.gov as "a modern, durable and user-friendly resource." Most of the functionality of THOMAS has been carried over to Congress.gov, which has a much more "Goggle-like" feel to it. You can still search by keyword when you are not sure of a bill number. Facets and a "search within results" feature replace the advanced search option in THOMAS. One nice change is that you can search for legislation by year right from the homepage; previously, you clicked into the "advance search" in order to accomplish this task.


Many other tasks are easier to accomplish in Congress.gov, thanks to the new layout. For instance, the "Committees" tab enables you to see recent bills and resolutions passed by a particular committee. The new display lets you immediately see what actions have been taken, without clicking into the text of the legislation itself.

A new offering on Congress.gov is "Members" profiles; previously, users were directed to the members website for contact information. In THOMAS, you could retrieve sponsoring summaries, if you did a little digging, but the results display did not provide much information without clicking on a result.


THOMAS.gov



Congress.gov


One feature I did not see was the link to the U.S.C. that was available on THOMAS's homepage. I know this information is available from a number of different sources, but it was nice to have it readily available here.

THOMAS will remain accessible from the Congress.gov homepage through late 2014, when all the information should be migrated over to Congress.gov. Currently, Congress.gov contains information dating back to 1993, whereas Thomas has full-text documents dating back to 1989, with summaries of legislation dating back to 1973. Therefore, you may still need to access THOMAS for a while.

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