Science and Technology News

Monday, August 30, 2010

THOMAS: The Revamp during the Recess

August 30th, 2010 by Andrew Weber

Over the past couple months I, along with the great THOMAS team here at the Library of Congress, have been working hard on the latest set of enhancements. Thankfully, we’ve been able to finish them before Congress returns from August recess. User feedback is continuing to drive our newest update. We collect feedback through OpinionLab on THOMAS, through the questions people ask our law librarians, and read what other people have to say.

For example, we’ve listened to concerns about the difficultly of using THOMAS on older mobile devices as well as how to find legislation on the state level. We’ve also tried to make adjustments to better coordinate with the rest of the Library of Congress website. Just as with our January and June enhancements, there is a new page on THOMAS describing the changes. Thank you for all the helpful feedback, which we’ve used to improve the website this year.

It’s no secret that many people on Capitol Hill use BlackBerrys. They are a great way for people to connect to their email but not as great for surfing the web. With that in mind, we are releasing a mobile-friendly THOMAS homepage for devices with smaller screen resolutions including BlackBerrys. For those of you with a touch screen smartphone, we’ve optimized the homepage for you to take advantage of the larger screens to enjoy complete access to the full version of THOMAS.

I’ve talked about our use of Twitter before and I’m happy to report that it’s easier to find the Law Library of Congress account so that you can send and receive tweets about THOMAS. Our @LawLibCongress account is accessible in the left hand navigation. Also, the Law Library’s Facebook, YouTube, and iTunes U accounts are prominently displayed. I’ve answered several questions about THOMAS and legislation through our Facebook and Twitter accounts. And occasionally (for the more difficult questions) I refer people to Ask A Law Librarian.

In addition to now having the Law Library’s social media on THOMAS, the new global footer also includes links to the Library of Congress social media and all ways to connect with us. The Library of Congress is increasingly coordinating across our websites and the global footer is a good example of this. It also includes a Speech Enabled link that helps enhance the accessibility of THOMAS.

As a result of legislation introduced in the Arizona State Legislature, our law librarians started receiving questions about it. We realized having a page linking to sources similar to THOMAS at the state level would be a good idea. Christine organized the links to all of the states, territories, and the District of Columbia for their THOMAS equivalent. Our new State Legislature page displays a map with links to the legislative bodies.

Oh, and don’t miss seeing our blog, In Custodia Legis, on the homepage. It’s the current feature on THOMAS!

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