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Law LOC Librarian On Improving THOMAS

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A librarian at the Law Library of Congress is asking for your ideas on improving THOMAS via that agency's fantastic new blog, In Custodia Legis, launched this past Monday. Today's blogpost describes ongoing efforts to improve THOMAS, including the creation of “tip of the week” that highlights THOMAS’ lesser-known features, and asks for ideas for future improvements.

I’m sure our friends at OpenCongress and GovTrack have some helpful ideas, and I have a lengthy list, too, but my top suggestion continues to be that the public be granted bulk access to THOMAS data. Congressman Honda explained this best in 2008: “Offering legislative information in a way that other websites can reuse could lead to revolutionary changes in the way our government functions, eventually allowing Congress to better tap into the knowledge and wisdom of the American people.” (I should add that we’re still awaiting the LOC/GPO report on making THOMAS data available in bulk, mandated by P.L. 111-8.)

My other main suggestion concerns what the Law Library has started to do-- bring the public in on the discussion of how to make THOMAS better. Some possible ways to continue in this direction would be to hold regular roundtable discussions, create a users advisory group, regular soliciting and responding to public feedback, and so on. Many people care about the information contained in THOMAS and how it is provided to the public. A partnership between the public and the Law Library can further its mission of providing “research assistance and reference services for United States federal and state legal issues to national and global constituents.”

More information about THOMAS, including some suggestions for improvements, are available here.