Tuesday 15 December 2015

New enhancements to Congress.gov

The law librarians of Congress have announced that Congress.gov has made a number of end-of-year enhancements. These include a new Quick Search for legislation, the Congressional Record Index (back to 1995), and the History of Bills from the Congressional Record Index (available from the Actions tab). They have also brought over the State Legislature Websites page from THOMAS, which has links to state level websites similar to Congress.gov. Text of legislation from the 101st and 102nd Congresses (1989-1992) has been migrated to Congress.gov. The Legislative Process infographic that has been available from the homepage as a JPG and PDF is now available in Spanish as a JPG and PDF. They've added Fiscal Year 2003 and 2004 to the Congress.gov Appropriations Table. There is also a new About page on the site for XML Bulk Data.
The improvements to the Quick Search interface were based on user feedback, and highlights selected fields most likely to be needed for a search.  The Advanced Search has added additional fields and ways to search for those who want to delve deeper into the data. 

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Secret History of the Bluebook

Fred Shapiro at Yale Law reports that The New York Times today has a story about the article by Fred and Julie Graves Krishnaswami entitled "The Secret History of the Bluebook." This article will be printed in the Minnesota Law Review in its April issue, and the unedited version is already posted on SSRN. From the Abstract:
The Bluebook, or Uniform System of Citation as it was formerly titled, has long been a significant component of American legal culture. The standard account of the origins of the Bluebook, deriving directly from statements made by longtime Harvard Law School Dean and later Solicitor General of the United States Erwin N. Griswold, maintains that the citation manual originated at the Harvard Law Review in the 1920s and was created or adapted by Dean Griswold himself. This account is wildly erroneous, as proven by intensive research we conducted in the archives of Harvard and Yale. In fact, the Bluebook grew out of precursor manuals at Yale Law School, apparently inspired by a legal scholar even more important than Griswold, namely Karl N. Llewellyn. The "uniform citations" movement that began at Yale was actually at first opposed by Harvard.

Friday 4 December 2015

GPO's new Regional Discard Policy

At the end of October, the Government Publishing Office moved forward with a new Regional Discard Policy for depository libraries. The librarians at the Free Government Info blog recently posted a lengthy discussion of the new policy, which the GPO plans to begin testing in January 2016 (and will not be fully implemented until they analyze the results).  FGI poses a number of questions about the new policy, saying that
..."there will no longer be any Regional Depositories for documents more than seven years old. It removes the requirement that there be access paper copies of all documents in the FDLP. It weakens the FDL Program by continuing the shift of responsibility away from FDLP members and toward GPO. It does not increase flexibility (as advocates of the policy claim), it shifts flexibility away from Selectives and gives it to Regionals. It puts new burdens on Selective Depositories. It establishes a new model for the preservation of paper copies of documents that is undocumented, unproven, and risky. It ignores long-term implications in favor of short-term benefits to a few large libraries. It makes GPO’s “guarantee” of long-term, free access to government information nothing more than a hollow promise."