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Library of Congress debuts website

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Library of Congress debuts website
A visitor flips through a portion of the card catalog at the during an open house at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on October 10, 2011. The Library of Congress invited members of the general public to visit the main reading room at the Jefferson Building. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. Library of Congress says a beta website that will replace its existing online catalogs next year has user-friendly search features for public users.

The site, beta.congress.gov, combines the resources of THOMAS, the Library's existing government page, with material from an archive called the Legislative Information System, once accessible only by members of Congress and their staffs, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

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The new website will "reflect the Library's commitment to Congress's goal to open the legislative process to the American people and promote an informed democracy," Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said.

The congress.gov site, which went live Wednesday, allows users to search content across all available years, can show them the current status of legislation, and includes profiles and legislative records for members of Congress.

Material from THOMAS -- named after President Thomas Jefferson -- is also accessible, including the Congressional Record, official schedules and calendars, committee reports, nominations and treaties.

In a joint statement, Republican and Democratic lawmakers overseeing the overhaul applauded the Library's effort to create a public resource.

The new site "heralds a new era in presenting congressional information online, with tools and infrastructure unimaginable 17 years ago," Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York said.

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The new site will remain in beta mode for about a year as the Library improves and fine-tunes it; THOMAS and the Legislative Information System will function normally while the Library tests the online overhaul, the Times reported.

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