THOMAS changes make federal legislative information even more accessible

Are you familiar with the Library of Congress and their service called THOMAS?

THOMAS was launched in January of 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress. The leadership of the 104th Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. Since that time, THOMAS has expanded the scope of its offerings to include the features and content listed below.

  • Bills, resolutions
  • Activity in Congress
  • Congressional record
  • Schedules, calendars
  • Committee information
  • Presidential nominations
  • Treaties
  • Government resources

Several changes have been made to THOMAS for the second session of the 111th Congress. Below is what THOMAS has to say about what’s new.

Bookmarking and Sharing Widget

This new toolbar, found near the top of most THOMAS pages, allows users to save or share a permanent link via bookmarks, e-mail or social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. The toolbar also includes quick links to subscribe to THOMAS Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds and to print.

Top Five Bills

The five most-searched-for bills from the past week are listed in the center box on the right side of the home page. Hover the mouse over a bill number to display the title of the bill. Click on the bill number to view the bill summary and status page for the selected bill.

New RSS feed: Bills Presented to the President

This new RSS feed lists bills that have passed both the House and Senate and have been sent to the White House for the president’s signature. If no bills are currently awaiting signature, a list of all bills signed into law thus far during the current Congress is displayed.

To see a complete list of RSS feeds and e-mail updates available through the Library of Congress, please visit Library of Congress RSS Feeds and Email Subscriptions.

Contacting Members of Congress

It’s now easier to contact your members of Congress. A link to tips about how to contact your representative or senator is included on the THOMAS home page.

Tip of the Week

Each week, a new tip about using THOMAS is displayed on the right-hand side of the THOMAS home page, below the “Top Five” list. Each tip contains a link to in-depth information on the covered topic.

Bill Text PDFs

To increase visibility and accessibility of the Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of bill text, we have added PDF links on the bill version listing page. Click on these links to view the official Government Printing Office (GPO) PDF for a specific version of a bill.

Increased Timeout Interval

Search results within THOMAS are displayed on temporary pages. In response to your feedback, we have increased the timeout interval for these pages from five minutes to 30 minutes.

All of these additions make it easier for you to keep up-to-date on developing news and legislation! And, as always, if you would like a tutorial on THOMAS or any other resource, feel free to contact me and we can arrange a meeting!

W. Blake Wilson
Instructional & Research Services Librarian