Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Erin Z.-R.

On the 2nd day we received a tour of the Library of Congress and then visited different departments of the library. Ken Drexler of the Digital Reference Team spoke to us about the Library of Congress website. Thomas is an online database that seeks to make federal legislative information available to the public for free. It has full text bills and laws from 1989-present, summaries of bill and laws from 1973-1989, and the Congressional Record from 1989-present. The Congressional Record can be used to show what a representative said on a particular topic. Thomas can be used to look up bills by representative, see summaries, co-sponsors, and related billS. You can specify which Congress you want to search or search multiple congresses. Other search capabilities include finding which bills were debated, seeing what happened on the floor on a particular day, looking at roll call votes from 1989-present, and seeing which bills became law (public laws). Thomas shows which days the House and Senate met and links to the House and Senate’s website where their calendars and schedules can be found as well as committee calendars. There are many other resources on Thomas that you’ll want to explore like this section where you can find information on the legislative process and a Congressional glossary.

Another resource on the Library of Congress’ website is “A Century of Lawmaking” which contains legislative information from 1774-1875. The “Using the Collection” link toward the bottom of the page takes you to information on how to search. Some resources can be searched full-text and others only have descriptions which can be searched. At present there are not any free full text online resources for legislative information from 1876-1988.

American Memory is a multimedia web site of digitized historical documents, photographs, sound recordings, moving pictures, books, pamphlets, maps, and other resources from the Library of Congress’s vast holdings. This Collection is especially strong in materials from the Revolutionary War-World War II. It includes a map section and films from around the turn of the century through 1920. The Browse Collections page allows you to search American Memory by topic, place, time period, and format.

The Library of Congress has an “Ask a Librarian” page which is an e-mail/chat reference service for people seeking more information about using their Collections. Be sure to see their Reference Correspondence Policy for the types of questions that can/can’t be answered.

We also visited the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room. This room has 2 years worth of periodicals in it and there are 70,000 stored alphabetically by title. Some are bound and some are on microfilm. Due to changes in cataloging serials, it’s sometimes difficult to keep holdings lists complete and accurate, so the staff recommends e-mailing or calling before coming in to make sure the desired publication is there. This collection includes comic books, current mainstream newspapers (not college newspapers), UN documents from the beginning to present, and government documents from 1993-present and Federal Advisory Committee documents from 1972-present.

The Library of Congress has one of the largest collections of newspapers in the U.S. and the world. One staff member spoke to us about how government documents can be traced back to early newspapers where one can find reaction to politics and legislation in editorials, articles, editorial cartoons. During Colonial times there were discussions in newspapers about the need to take up arms and the Declaration of Independence and the 1st Federalist Papers appeared in newspapers so that they would be available for public review. Another staff member spoke to us about the National Digital Newspaper Program . Chronicling America is a prototype of this project where you can search and view newspaper pages from 1890-1910 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. The Minnesota Historical Society is a 2007-2009 Awardee and is digitizing papers from 1880-1910.

The next presentation was on the U.S. Copyright Office. Mr. Fernandez-Barrial spoke to us about what may and may not be copyrighted. Examples of some items that can’t be copyrighted are works that haven’t been fixed in a tangible form, names, titles, short phrases, slogans (these can be trademarked if associated with a product), familiar shapes, symbols, designs, coloring, lettering, fonts, calligraphy, ideas, methods, systems, principles, discoveries, devices, inventions, U.S. Government works (if they were contracted; if done by a private agency they may be protected), Government edicts and official legal documents, blank forms, formulas, historical facts, and works consisting entirely of information that is common property and has no original authorship. Works that can be copyrighted have copyright automatically upon creation. However, it is recommended to register one’s work with the Copyright Office as this confers benefits (i.e. possible coverage of attorney’s fees and statutory benefits). More information can be found in the publications found on the Copyright Office’s web page like “Copyright Basics” and in their FAQ. Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright is a fun and informative presentation designed for teachers and students. Information on searching copyright records can be found here. There is also information on how to register one’s work for copyright. Electronic registering is highly recommended as it is less expensive ($35 vs. $96) and faster processing time (2 months vs. about 9 months).

STAT-USA/Internet, is a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce , and is a “single point of access to authoritative business, trade, and economic information from across the Federal Government”. The website/database is in the process of being redesigned. It is only available at Central where customers must be logged in order to use it. Through STAT-USA users have access to “State of the Nation” though which they can obtain current and historical federal economic data like the Gross Domestic Product, Consumer Price Index, selected interest rates, and more. They also have access to Globus NTDB (National Trade Data Bank) which allows them to obtain historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, country analysis and STAT-USA’s trade library. STAT-USA contains calendars with release dates and times for specific economic reports.
The State of the Nation library includes over 4,700 current federal and private economic and financial reports including Consumer Confidence, Treasury auction reports, Current Industrial Reports. You can sign up for e-mail notification of changes and new reports. Older reports are archived. State of the Nation also includes travel statistics like top 20 countries generating travel, international visitor spending.

Globus/NTDB offers trade leads and procurement information (a lead is a request made by a U.S. or foreign government or agency for a business opportunity like making uniforms, etc.), market and country research (country commercial guides contain contact information and information on how to do business in other countries, international market insight reports are market overviews of what’s hot, but not available for every market or country, and industry sector analysis reports), more country reports (Country Background Notes produced by the State Department, and Global Agricultural Information Network Reports from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service that include information on agricultural production trade tends, foreign legislation and regulations, and trade policies affecting US agricultural trade).
The International Trade Library, which replaces the NTDB cd-rom, contains current and historical reports and resources like the CIA World Factbook, World Bank Commodity Price Data Sheet, This Year in Trade, Small Business Guide to Exporting, Department of Energy’s Country Analysis Brief (international reports on energy production and consumption), Country Studies Programs Country Profiles (these are the most recent version of the Army Area handbooks produced by the Library of Congress).

Another part of STATS-USA is USA Trade Online which is a joint venture between STATS-USA and the Foreign Trade Division of the Census Bureau. It is the official source for U.S. merchandise trade data. Trade statistics are provided using the Harmonized System (HS) and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) based commodity codes. Reports can be browsed and users can also create customized reports, charts, receive monthly updates, download reports, and highlight values of interest. They can also sign up for updates, training materials and other STAT-USA news.

The final presentation of the day was from DTIC (Defense Technical Information Center), which is in the process of changing its website. “DTIC is the central source within DoD (Department of Defense) for acquiring, storing, retrieving and disseminating scientific and technical information to support DoD research, development, engineering and studies programs. The Center also provides information tools and systems to support Pentagon executives and managers. DTIC hosts, develops and maintains more than 100 of DoD's major Web sites.” DTIC stores military information which is categorized as unclassified/unlimited, unclassified/limited, and classified. Only certain groups are eligible for DTIC services, and others can order DTIC documents through NTIS or may be able to find them on OAIster or Science.gov. Types of information gathered included technical reports and memos, theses dissertations, studies and analyses, test results, journal articles, conference proceedings, patent information, command histories, and DOD directives and instructions.

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