THOMAS is retiring! Launched in 1995 by the Library of Congress and named after Thomas Jefferson, one of the United States’s founding fathers, THOMAS is a great online database of federal legislative information. The specific date of THOMAS’s retirement has not yet been set, but expect THOMAS to retire after the 2015 fiscal year.
Introducing Congress.gov! Congress.gov is now the official website for federal legislative information and provides the public with access to both current and historic legislative information including bill summaries, bill status, presidential nominations, treaties, and committee reports. Note that the default search setting for Congress.gov is the current session of Congress. Common search options are available in a drop-down menu next to the main search box at the top of the webpage, and advanced search settings are available through the “Advanced” link to the right of the main search box. For more search tips, check out https://www.congress.gov/help/search-tips-overview.
Information is generally updated the morning after a session adjourns, and specific update schedules are available at https://www.congress.gov/about/coverage-dates. Every Monday, the website compiles a list of the top ten most-viewed bills from the previous week. This can be a great resource to quickly find a popular topic or get a sense of what is trending. Here are some highlights from the site.
- You can save searches that you run on Congress.gov, but you will need to register with the website.
- Congress.gov training is available through the Law Library of Congress. Check out their page at http://www.loc.gov/law/opportunities/seminar-orient.php to sign up for seminars or webinars.
- Information about the legislative process is available at https://www.congress.gov/resources/display/content/Learn+About+the+Legislative+Process. If you are a visual learner, you can check out these videos on the legislative process.
- You can stream House committee and meetings videos at https://www.congress.gov/committees/video.
- If you are new to federal legislative research, this glossary is quite helpful.
- For those of you that have saved links to THOMAS, check out this page at https://www.congress.gov/help/faq/linking-to-congress-gov for information about linking to Congress.gov.
- For those of you interested in the first century of U.S. federal legislative information, check out http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/.
- If you prefer THOMAS, until all data sets from THOMAS have been transferred to Congress.gov, you can still access THOMAS at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php.
If you would like to learn more about Congress.gov or receive assistance in navigating the site, contact us at the Law Library, and we will be more than happy to assist you.