The Recap: Library of Congress 2022 Virtual Public Forum

On September 21, 2022, the Library of Congress held its 2022 Virtual Public Forum on the Library’s role in providing access to legislative information. You can find summaries of the 2020 and 2021 forums here and here. It is our understanding that video of the proceedings will be made publicly available, and we will update this blogpost when that happens.

The forum mainly focused on Congress.gov and access to legislative information through electronic means, although it included significant discussion on digitization efforts. Legislative branch stakeholders made presentations on their work, including the House Clerk, Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, the Congressional Budget Office, the Law Library of Congress, and the Congressional Research Service. The Library noted several hundred individuals RSVPed, and participants voiced their appreciation for the forum and recommended continuing it in the future.

An agenda was not released in advance of the meeting, which lasted 3 hours, and covered recent enhancements to Congress.gov, its features and new releases, recent projects, updates from data partners, a presentation from the Congressional Budget Office on its transparency efforts, a discussion of legislative data standards, a presentation on the Constitution Annotated, a brief history of Congress.gov and THOMAS, and a Q&A at the end. We suggest that, for future meetings, the agenda and rough timing be published in advance.

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Library of Congress Launches Congress.gov API

On September 6th, the Library of Congress announced it launched a beta version of its Congress.gov API. While APIs for legislative data aren’t new for the Legislative branch — see, for example, the Government Publishing Office’s API — this is a pretty big deal. For the reason why, it’s helpful to know a little history.

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Library of Congress announces date for Virtual Public Forum on Congress.gov

The Library of Congress announced it will hold its third virtual public forum on congress.gov on September 21, 2022 from 1:30-4:30 PM ET. The forum will focus on user suggestions for enhanced access to congressional information/data on congress.gov and also provide an opportunity for the Library to provide updates on improvements to that website.

Pursuant to Congressional direction, the Library of Congress hosted virtual public fora over the last two years, which we summarized in these blogposts from 2021 and 2020. The Library had previously said it would hold this meeting, but had expressed concern about a decrease in attendance from the first to second forums. (To date, nearly 1,500 people have watched the second forum online and 6,000 have watched the first one, both of which are quite large numbers.)

To attend you must RSVP online here. The Library also has an online feedback form for those who wish to submit comments individually.

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The Recap: Library of Congress 2021 Virtual Public Forum

On September 2, 2021, the Library of Congress held the second of two virtual public fora on the Library’s role in providing access to legislative information directed by congressional appropriators in FY2020. (For reference, language requiring the proceedings was included in the committee report accompanying the FY2020 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill.) We summarized the 2020 forum here.

The event was well attended — the Library noted over one hundred RSVPs — and several participants voiced their appreciation and recommended continuing the practice in the future. During Q&A, the Library stated that there were no plans in place for future public virtual events to continue, but indicated that we’d “hear more” about any such plans after the video was published. (No news so far.)

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Serial Set for 69th Congress is Now Online

GPO + Library of Congress announced they have completed scanning the serial set for the 69th Congress (1925-1927). A serial set contains all the numbered Senate and House Documents and Senate and House Reports for that period.

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Library of Congress to host virtual public forum on updates to legislative data services

The Library of Congress will host a virtual public form on federal legislative information services on September 2, 2021, starting at 1PM ET. RSVP here. This is the second — and last — forum required of the Library by House Legislative Branch Appropriators “to facilitate public input into the Library’s legislative information services and how they could be improved,” although we hope it is not the last. The Library was required to invite the public to the event and to summarize the comments and evaluate implementation of the suggestions in a report to be provided to appropriators.  

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Library of Congress to host virtual meeting on its legislative information services

On Thursday, September 10th, the Library of Congress will host its first-ever virtual forum on the Library’s legislative information services at 10 a.m. ET. (Follow the link to RSVP).

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Recommendations to the Library of Congress: Legislative Information Services and How They Could Be Improved

In anticipation of next week’s Virtual Public Forum hosted by the Library of Congress, we submitted the following recommendations to the Library of Congress on how it could improve its Legislative Information Services. The report is available online here. The recommendations cover the following five categories:

  • Publish Information as Data
  • Put the Legislative Process in Context
  • Integrate Information from Multiple Sources
  • Publish Archival Information
  • Collaborate with the Public

Library of Congress, GPO Should Publish the Digitized Congressional Record

At a meeting in April, the Government Publishing Office announced its collaboration with the Library of Congress to digitize all bound volumes of the Congressional Record from 1873-1998. The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress.

The digitization project is pursuant to a 2010 Joint Committee on Printing letter. GPO explained at the April meeting that it had digitized all of the volumes and the “[Library Services and Content Management business unit] was in the acquisitions process for the next step of reviewing the digital content and creating descriptive metadata.”

GPO and the Library should release the digitized volumes now. Even without metadata, the Congressional Record could be searched and put to other uses. Other digitization projects concerning documents held by the Library have taken years while descriptive metadata was created. By contrast, a volunteer-led effort to create descriptive metadata for the Statutes of Large took a matter of months and cost the government nothing. Continue Reading