New Website for State Online Legal Information

April 9, 2013

 By Elizabeth

The Digital Access to Legal Information Committee (DALIC) has created a new website to host information about the status of online legal materials in every state with respect to authentication, official status, preservation, permanent public access, copyright, and universal citation.

The new website brings together information from AALL’s National Inventory of Legal Materials and updates AALL’s Preliminary Analysis of AALL’s State Legal Inventories2007 State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources, and 2009-2010 State Summary Updates. State pages will be updated as information changes. DALIC members will monitor the site and periodically check in with AALL’s state working groups to ensure the accuracy of the information.

DALIC also welcomes your additions or updates to information about legal materials in your state. If you have information to offer, please fill out our online form. A member of DALIC will contact you to verify the information you provide.


CRS Report: “Researching Current Federal Legislation and Regulations”

September 7, 2012

By Elizabeth

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently updated its helpful report, “Researching Current Federal Legislation and Regulations: A Guide to Resources for Congressional Staff.” A guide to finding current legislation and regulations, the report won’t offer much that’s new for those who have experience with legislative search tools, but can serve as an excellent introduction or reference.

H/T to the Free Government Information (FGI) blog for pointing out the report’s interesting comparison of the information available through the Congressional Legislative Information System (LIS) and the publically accessible THOMAS:

One thing I particularly liked was the comparison on p. 13 of the “Legislative Information System,” which provides access to legislative information to Members of Congress and their staff, and THOMAS, which makes information on federal legislation freely available to the public. That’s right, one system for Congress and a separate system for us ordinary folk.

Here is a sample:

LIS THOMAS
Best used for Finding the most complete legislative information Best used for Working with constituents
Links from Bill Summary & Status display to CRS reports No CRS reports
Links to Capitol Hill and selected outside sources of floor and committee schedule information. Minimal links
Special advanced search capabilities Advanced search capabilities only in Bill Summary & Status database

The House Administration Committee is poised to consider H.Res. 727, the Congressional Research Service Electronic Accessibility Resolution of 2012, which would make CRS reports available online in a free, public database. It’s likely the bill could come to a vote in the lame duck session. CRS reports play a critical role in our democratic process by providing key historical context and options for further action— as well as useful, interesting information like that in the report above. Contact your representative today and ask them to support H.Res. 727 for greater public access to this important resource.


AALL Launches New Legislative Action Center

October 4, 2011

AALL is pleased to announce the launch of a new Legislative Action Center. Our new Action Center allows you to easily send messages to your Members of Congress, look up information about your elected representatives, and share our alerts with friends and colleagues.

Please use our Action Center to respond to our current alert on GPO funding. The alert allows you to send targeted messages to your Senators and House Representative and personalize your emails with stories and experiences related to FDsys and the Federal Depository Library Program. Your personal experiences and reasons why funding cuts would hurt your lawmakers’ constituents will be the hook that catches their attention. Thank you for taking action!


House Makes it Easier to Track Floor Action

September 28, 2011

This week, the House of Representatives launched a set of improvements to its Floor Activities website to help you more easily track action on the House floor. The updates include:

  • Unique tabs for bills and votes
  • Precise time stamps, down to the second
  • A link to download the live XML for reuse

While you won’t see much action on the site now (the House has adjourned until September 29), these are exciting improvements that will make it easier for anyone to see what their Representatives are doing. Kudos to the House Clerk for launching these useful changes!


Submit Your Comments on the Future of the Federal Depository Library Program

September 2, 2011

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) just released the second edition of its monthly newsletter, the FDLP Connection. This informative update includes a description of plans for the Fall Federal Depository Library Conference & Depository Library Council Meeting, which will take place in Arlington, Virginia from October 17-20. The meeting will include a session on October 20, “Creating Our Shared Vision: Roles and Opportunities in the FDLP,” focusing on “sharing ideas on roles and models for depository libraries; changes in information policy and their effect on libraries; and a reaffirmation of the depository library community’s commitment to ensuring the public has free access to Federal information.”

As we wrote in AALL’s Washington E-Bulletin, GPO is soliciting your comments on the future of the FDLP, which will help shape the October 20 session. Comments are due by September 16.

After you submit your comments, we encourage you to read the FDLP Connection in its entirety. The newsletter is a great new resource for depository libraries and anyone interested in what GPO and libraries in their communities are doing to promote access to government information. As Kevin McClure, Research Librarian at the Chicago-Kent College of Law Library and author of the fantastic Gov Docs Guy blog, said, “There’s a lot of good stuff in this issue that I didn’t know, like how David Cismowski persuaded Downey City Library to stay in the FDLP and transition to an all-digital depository, and how they’re going about it.” Read the latest issue here.


Network Neutrality Issue Brief Updated with Analysis of New Rules

January 6, 2011

Ryan Harrington, Reference Librarian at Yale Law School, has updated AALL’s Network Neutrality Issue Brief with an excellent analysis of the new rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on December 21, 2010. The rules require transparency of network management practices; no blocking of lawful content; and no unreasonable discrimination. The updated issue brief explains AALL’s concern, shared by many open government groups, that these new rules do not apply to mobile broadband – a significant loophole because increasing numbers of people are opting to use mobile devices to access the Internet.

Please mark your calendars for a timely one hour session on Network Neutrality during AALL’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, “Can the FCC Regulate the Internet?” (F2) on Monday, July 25 at 10:45 a.m. Ryan will moderate a lively discussion between Markham Erickson, Executive Director of the Open Internet Coalition, of which AALL is a member, and Dan Brenner, Partner at Hogan Lovells. The speakers will discuss the impact of the new rules on law libraries as well as legal challenges the FCC may face in implementing and enforcing these rules.


Law Library of Congress Adds More New Features to THOMAS

December 13, 2010

Implementing its final set of enhancements to THOMAS this year, the Law Library of Congress added the following useful new features:

  • All GPO Access links in THOMAS have been changed to link to FDsys.
  • The search has been improved so that the most important bill types appear first.
  • The Bill Summary & Status page will now display the Latest Action (rather than Latest Major Action) and the Latest Title (rather than the most recent official or short title).
  • Cosponsors are now listed in one column, rather than divided up into two.
  • Dublin Core tags were added for title, creator (the sponsor in THOMAS), date, identifier (the THOMAS handle), and type (bill type).

Congratulations to the Law Library for adding many new enhancements to THOMAS this year, in celebration of its fifteenth anniversary. A list of all the great new features can be found on the Law Library’s Web site.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


For the First Time, White House Reveals Total Intelligence Budget

November 2, 2010

In a remarkable step toward greater government transparency, the Administration last week disclosed for the first time the total intelligence budget. For 2010, the figure is $80.1 billion.

The intelligence budget was revealed in 1997 and 1998 in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Federation of American Scientists. However, the “national” and “military” components of the budget were not disclosed as part of that lawsuit, so the release painted only a partial picture of intelligence spending.

Since 2007, the White House has disclosed the National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget, as required by Congress in response to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. However, at his July 20, 2010 confirmation hearing, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper admitted that revealing only the NIP budget was “disingenuous.”

This exciting step toward greater government openness would not have been possible without the tireless advocacy efforts of 2006 AALL Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award winner Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. Congratulations to Steve on this significant victory!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Aftergood Examines Over-classification

October 19, 2010

2006 AALL Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award winner Steven Aftergood, author of Secrecy News, recently published a new article at ForeignPolicy.com examining the current classification system, including the potential impact of the recently-enacted Reducing Over-classification Act (P.L. 111-258).

AALL strongly supports the Reducing Over-classification Act, introduced in the 111th Congress by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA-36). The new law institutes annual training for classifiers and requires Inspectors general to assess their department’s classification policies.

Though this law takes many positive steps to combat government secrecy, Aftergood highlights some of the changes that are still needed to encourage declassification  and ensure a shift toward greater government openness.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Thurgood Marshall Law Library Adds to Commission on Civil Rights Collection

September 30, 2010

The Thurgood Marshall Law Library at the University of Maryland School of Law recently added twenty new documents to their digital collection of historical publications from the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). The Library’s collection is a partnership of the Government Printing Office, the USCCR and the Thurgood Marshall Law Library.

Some of the latest additions include:

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


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